Launch of University of Sydney’s Centre for Carbon, Water And Food
WED 06 MARCH 2013
We are particularly pleased to be joined by our Chinese friends today: His Excellency Ambassador Chen Yuming, Chinese Ambassador to Australia along with representatives and special guests from the Academy of Agricultural Sciences China and the Nanjing Agricultural University.
We can learn a great deal together and we can learn a great deal from each other.
China is Australia’s most valuable destination for exports of agricultural products and two way trade is growing, with Chinese sales to Australia growing at more than eight per cent a year.
We appreciate the significant recent increases in access for a number of products including beef, Tasmanian cherries and dairy products.
And I am absolutely delighted that this Centre will work so closely with the Academy and the University.
The understandings and agreements which will see shared endeavour in teaching and learning, research and innovation here and at your institutions in China are exactly the kind of positive human connections which bind Australia and China together more closely every year.
The great themes of the Australian future – the great themes of change and progress in our century – are all contained in the work of the Centre which we are here to launch today.
Asian partnerships, Asian growth, food security, clean energy, education.
The work of this Centre is exactly the kind of work I envisaged in our White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century.
The White Paper, plan which guides Australia’s efforts to be among the winners in the Asian Century, specifically identified the food and agricultural sector as a major priority for work.
Currently Australia produces twice as much food as we consume – we export as much as we eat.
For decades, we have been well served by our reputation as a safe supplier of high quality food and fibre.
The work we do now in research and innovation to seize the opportunities our clean energy future will create for our food and fibre industries will be a key in coming decades – and the shifting centre of economic gravity, from west to east, creates vast new opportunities for us in our region.
This is why, following the release of Asian Century White Paper, ‘Feeding the Future: A Joint Australia-China Report on Strengthening Investment and Technological Cooperation in Agriculture to Enhance Food Security’ was released by Minister Emerson and Minister Ludwig in December last year.
China’s Minister for Commerce and Minister for Agriculture are co-signatories to the report.
Feeding the Future identified new grounds for future collaborations between agricultural producers and agribusinesses in both countries: developing water and soil resources in northern Australia; commercialising new technology, particularly new plant varieties and making improvements in food processing and logistics.
These are all areas where the nexus between carbon reduction and food and fibre production – and these are all areas of cooperation which are strongly reflected in the work of this Centre and the collaborative arrangements that you have struck.
While the high quality tertiary courses in the agri-food sector which will be offered here and with your partners are vital to the future prospects of farmers around the country – and in turn, vital to the future prosperity of Australia’s regional communities.
So the launch of this Centre drives partnerships in our region, in a century of growth, it supports food security, it finds economic opportunity in clean energy and carbon reduction.
All this is done, ultimately, through research – through education.
Nothing matters more to me personally, nothing matters more to the nation I lead or to the nations we work with in the world, than improving the education of our peoples.
As Prime Minister I take particular pleasure in seeing the work we are doing to prepare our nation for the future take shape in such practical ways in an outer urban community.
Here, at the University of Sydney’s campus at Camden, I can see all our hopes and plans for our nation becoming very substantial and real.
I am very pleased to be back at the University of Sydney and to see the results of the Australian Government’s contribution of $4.6 million to this Centre.
I commend the hard work of all the institutions who have been involved in the delivery of this centre and the cooperative arrangements we are celebrating today.
I look forward to seeing the results of your work in coming years.
Congratulations – and thank you.