It has been twelve months since I took up my post as Australian Ambassador to Argentina. What an amazing year. I have visited many parts of this rich and diverse country. We have been fortunate to receive a range of Australian visitors, from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to Nobel prize-winning author John Coetzee to the Wallabies rugby team.
I have been inspired by the hundreds of young Argentines whose sense of adventure has taken them to Australia on work and holiday visas to explore the outback, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and walk with kangaroos. Equally I have met with dozens of young Aussies who have come to Argentina to trek the Andes, explore your cities and learn the tango.
Everywhere I have gone I am struck by the similarities between our two countries. Large territories. Relatively small populations the majority of whom are descendants of migrants. Rich in both natural and human resources. Federal systems. Located in the southern hemisphere.
I am also struck by the potential we have to work even closer together. We are natural partners, for example, in the agriculture sector, mining, energy and education. We both stand to gain from sharing our respective experiences in developing those sectors responsibly, competitively and sustainably.
In the international arena, too, we are longstanding partners in the G20, the Cairns Group, the United Nations and the Antarctic Treaty system. As middle powers these are forums in which Australia and Argentina can engage constructively to build consensus, to establish new standards and achieve national, regional and global benefits on such issues as food security, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and transnational crime.
The election of a new government is always a source of tremendous hope and excitement. The Argentine elections last month were no exception. They demonstrated the maturity of democracy in this country and provided a signal that in electing President Mauricio Macri Argentines have opted for change. The future path presents challenges. No doubt. But it also presents enormous opportunities. For my part I am filled with optimism that our two countries can gain immensely from seizing on the appetite for change and seeking out those opportunities.
Whether it is strengthening our efforts to boost global food production. Or looking at Australia’s economic reforms in the 1980s which have led to 24 consecutive years of economic growth. Or looking pragmatically to each other as a platform for exploring new markets for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions respectively. The potential is enormous. The disposition on both sides is unfailingly positive. And the time is now. For both Australia and Argentina I am absolutely convinced the best is yet to come.