Event Reports

"Distance doesn't matter" - Political Dialogue Programme Australia and Germany

by Katharina Naumann

German delegation visits Australia

On the occasion of the official opening of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s (KAS) new Regional Programme Australia and Pacific in Canberra, a political dialogue on "German-Australian relations and their future perspectives" took place from 20 to 24 March 2017.

The KAS delegation consisted of German MP Volkmar Klein, Chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with Australia and New Zealand in the German Bundestag, and Dr. Gerhard Wahlers, Deputy Secretary General of KAS and Head of the Department European and International Cooperation. They travelled to Sydney and Canberra to conduct a series of political talks, with the overall aim of deepening relations with the Liberal Party of Australia and expanding exchanges with representatives from the political arena, think tanks, academic institutions, and the economy. In addition, MP Volkmar Klein and Dr. Gerhard Wahlers were also the German guests of honour at the official opening of the new Canberra office.

In Sydney, the delegation met representatives of the German-Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Macquarie Group, researchers from the United States Studies Center and representatives of German companies, media and educational institutions to discuss German-Australian economic relations, consequences of the “Brexit”, current US foreign policy, internet/security/cyber security and the development of bilateral relations.

The new office located in the parliamentary district was officially opened in Canberra on 22 March. The opening ceremony was officiated by Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Minister Cormann is at the same time Chairman of the Australia Germany Advisory Group, an initiative committed to the strengthening of bilateral relations at the highest political level. In its progress report the Advisory Group had stated in December 2016 that „…the Konrad Adenauer Foundation´s (KAS) decision to open a new office in Canberra will further strengthen our countries‘ knowledge and understanding of our common challenges and interests. The new office will allow KAS to expand its existing research on Asia-Pacific issues and further strengthen Germany’s understanding of the region. At the same time, Australia will benefit from KAS’s substantial body of policy work on European issues.” (Australia-Germany Advisory Group: Collaboration, Innovation & Opportunity. Progress Report, December 2016).

In his speech in front of more than 150 guests from political, diplomatic, academic, business and media spheres, the Minister emphasised that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself was a great supporter of the expansion and deepening of bilateral relations between Germany and Australia. The Minister also noted that one measurable result since the beginning of the work of the Advisory Group had been the strengthening of trade relations and direct investments.

German guest of honour for the evening was MP Volkmar Klein. The Chairman of the German-Australian-New Zealand Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag, MP Klein stated in his speech that the momentum for the intensification of relations was growing and stressed the importance of partnerships between states whose policies are based on our shared humanity as well as individual freedoms.

The Deputy General Secretary of KAS, Dr. Gerhard Wahlers, also spoke of the importance of the new office for the Foundation's international work. Accordingly, the Australia and the Pacific office will constitute a pivotal pillar for KAS’ main fields of expertise, namely foreign and security policy as well as parliamentary and party dialogue. He especially emphasized that KAS was proud to be the first of all political foundations in Germany to pay tribute to the outstanding role of Australia and the Pacific region within our global framework by opening an office here.

The following day, the delegation held numerous political talks in the Parliament of Australia. The focus was on exchanging views on Germany and Australia with regard to current international relations, with particular emphasis on the developments in the USA, China and Europe following the Brexit vote in Great Britain. The delegation also discussed with campaig strategies with representatives of the Liberal Party of Australia.

The program concluded on 24 March 2017 with an exchange on foreign and security policy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and a round table discussion in cooperation with the ANU Center for European Studies on the ramifications of Brexit for both the EU and Australia, the future of the EU as a political project, and how the security objectives of both regions overlap.

Once again, the various meetings showed that Germany and Australia, despite the great geographic distance, are united through shared values and common interests in the field of foreign and security as well as trade policy.

Contact Person

Christian Echle

Christian Echle bild

Director Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia

christian.echle@kas.de +65 6603 6160 +65 6227 8343
March 22, 2017
Canberra, Australia
Official opening of KAS' Australia office