Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP100928 ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Bio-Risk Management

ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Bio-Risk Management
Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith
28-30 September 2010

Thank you Ambassador Calonge for that introduction.

Undersecretary Linda Basilio of the DFA, the Philippines’ ARF Senior Official

My colleagues and friends the Ambassadors of ARF member countries

Workshop co-chairs, speakers and participants

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening – or as we say here in the Philippines, magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.

It’s my pleasure to say a few words to welcome you all this evening, and I want to start by thanking the Government of the Philippines for its assistance and fine hospitality in hosting this ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Bio-Risk Management.

Australia is pleased to be working together with the Philippines and the United States in convening the Workshop, which builds on a successful workshop on biological threat reduction jointly hosted by the US and the Philippines in Manila in June last year.

We see this workshop as a further contribution to international efforts to counter possible terrorism involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials – focusing on this occasion on biological materials.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, and many others since, remind us how creative and ruthless terrorist attack planning can be. The potential for terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons is of serious concern to all of us. We know that a small number of terrorist groups seek CBRN capabilities, and would use them if they could. And even if the risk is small, the consequences of any such attack would be devastating.

The accidental or malicious release of sensitive biological pathogens could inflict appalling damage, on human health, critical infrastructure, a country’s economy, national security, and public health and welfare.

Self evidently, we must do everything possible to prevent that from occurring.
Strategies to address potential bio-terrorism by necessity go well beyond national borders. By working together to identify and address risks, we can minimise the potential for accidental release or intentional misuse of human and animal pathogens.

And so this workshop provides a forum in which to share experiences and approaches to bio-security and bio-safety, and promote best practice in minimising the risk of terrorists acquiring and maliciously using security-sensitive biological materials.

We appreciate the participation of scientific, government and industry experts from ARF member countries in the workshop. The broad range of expertise of speakers and participants underlines that we’re not dealing here with an esoteric scientific challenge, but one that goes directly to our core security interests.

For its part Australia remains fully committed to supporting regional initiatives such as this through the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Practical, focused initiatives like this make an important contribution to strengthening links between counterparts in our scientific communities, industry and government across the Asia Pacific region.

And in doing so they make an important contribution to our shared efforts to combat the threat of bio-terrorism and other regional security threats.

So thank you again for your participation in the Workshop. I wish all delegates an enjoyable and productive week and invite you to enjoy the evening.

Thank you, maraming salamat and mabuhay.