Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP120412 - Statement by the Governor General of Australia to the Media at Malacanang Palace

12 APRIL 2012

 Mr President, before I begin my formal remarks may I just say that I join my fellow Australians today in thinking and praying for the continued wellbeing of those in Sumatra, and elsewhere in our region, who again are living with the anxiety of a possible Tsunami.

I want to say, Australians stand ready to be good and helpful neighbours should the need arise.

Mr President, I wish to record my appreciation for the warm welcome that my husband Michael and I have received since arriving in Manila last night.

This is our first visit to the Republic of the Philippines and we are both very pleased to be here.

I valued greatly our useful discussion this morning about the very warm and wide-ranging partnership between Australia and the Philippines.

We discussed the range of our bilateral activities, from our development cooperation program, including work on disaster preparedness and response; to security and defence cooperation; to trade and investment; to collaboration in regional and global fora.

We also talked about the very important contribution that the Philippine diaspora makes in Australia, and about the efforts of Australians who have chosen to live, work and invest in the Philippines.

Over the sixty-six years of our diplomatic ties, the bilateral relationship has matured into one which is both broad and deep; a relationship that is based on shared values and interests, and one which brings tangible benefits to both nations.

Working hand-in-hand with the Philippine Government, our development cooperation program has now increased to the point where Australia is the Philippines' largest bilateral grant aid donor.

We have aligned our aid program so that it tracks closely with the President's own priorities - with our efforts focused on infrastructure, economic governance and poverty reduction.

Even in tragedy our two countries are linked.

As a nation that understands the heartbreak and havoc of catastrophic natural disasters - whether it be cyclones, floods or fires - Australia is committed to continue its work with our Philippine partners to prepare and build community resilience for disasters which strike across the archipelago.

And, at this point, may I take this opportunity to add my own condolences to those of the Australian Government for the devastating loss of life and destruction caused by Tropical Storm Sendong's terrible flooding last December.

Australia was pleased to offer assistance in the aftermath of this tragedy.

In our meeting this morning, we talked about the productive cooperation we enjoy on defence and security matters.

We also discussed bilateral trade and investment ties which both countries agree has the potential to expand.

We noted the fact that Australia and the Philippines share many common interests in the region, including to ensure maritime security in accordance with international law, and to strengthen economic integration.

Indeed, as neighbours in the Asia-Pacific we cooperate closely in regional and global fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit and the United Nations.

I was very pleased to note to the President that the Filipino community in Australia now numbers well over 200,000 and continues to grow.

This is a very welcome development.

Filipino Australians have made excellent contributions to their adopted nation, including in the fields of academia, the arts, sport and politics; and they play a key role in strengthening the bonds of friendship between our two countries.

In closing, it is clear that this is an exciting time in our bilateral relationship.

Both parties recognise that although we have achieved much together, there is more that can be done by combining our efforts bilaterally, regionally and globally.

Australia looks forward to working with the Philippine Government in the years ahead.

We especially look forward to President Aquino's visit to Australia later in the year.

Thank you, again for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality Michael and I have received.