Joint Press Statement with His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel

31 Oct 2017
Jerusalem, Israel
Prime Minister
International and Trade


Prime Minister Turnbull, Malcolm, I want to say how pleased we are on your visit, historic visit - on the historic occasion of this tremendous centennial that we’ll celebrate tomorrow at Beersheba.

It highlights, as does our meeting that we’ve just ended, the extraordinary friendship between Israel and Australia.

We just signed a defence industry agreement. It reflects our commitment to defend our common values of freedom, of democracy, the rule of law, pluralism.

These are values that are under attack by various forces.

We cooperate in every way, to safeguard our peoples and safeguard our civilization.

We are pursuing and have discussed the possibilities of cooperating in areas of technology that are changing our world. Creating vast new opportunities.

Australia is one of the most developed countries in the world. Israel is one of the most developed countries in the world. Together we can do a lot more.

There’s a natural sympathy between our peoples.

I said before that I felt it everywhere in Australia. I remember the embrace of ordinary Australians when my wife and I were sitting on a beach and they started coming to us. They wanted to talk to us.

I remember these Jewish children singing songs in Hebrew, from a Jewish school in Sydney.

The heart warms when it sees these expressions of friendship and solidarity.

I have to say that we have admired the fact that Australia has taken part virtually I think, in all the battles for freedom in the last 100 years.

I told you that the first meeting between our peoples actually took place before Beersheba in Gallipoli, when the first Jewish fighting forces fought alongside their Australian counterparts in Gallipoli.

That didn’t go so well, Beersheba went better.

The impression that Australian soldiers left on the Jewish community here in the land of Israel at the time, was lasting.

Tremendous sympathy, the informality, the warmth, the shared values that you so well described a few hours earlier. When you spoke about this, this is all true, this is something that creates a sympathy an identification and a friendship that is real.

I know that people think that all international relations are guided by interest. Of course they are.

But where interest coheres with values, there is something special. Interest coheres with values in the relations between Israel and Australia.

And the fact that you came here, halfway around the world - you can’t really get further away than the distance between Israel and Australia – the fact that you came here I think signifies that friendship.

I’m very proud to have been the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Australia.

I’m delighted that you are here, the second time a Prime Minister visits Israel.

I think the future portends great things for both our countries which are really one in values.

So welcome friend.


Bibi, Prime Minister thank you very much for that warm welcome.

We have had a very productive set of discussions together, just the two of us, with Sara and Lucy and of course a full bilateral meeting.

And we’ve covered a very, very wide range of issues.

We’ve talked about history.

We’ve talked about the Battle of Beersheba. And we will have more to say about that tomorrow.

But you know, it was the last successful cavalry charge. And it was, there were more horses and troopers in that charge than there were in the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. And it ended much better too. It had been a victory. And it was as I was saying earlier today, it really had a turning point, a pivotal moment.

But we’ve seen over the century deeper and deeper cooperation and collaboration between Australia and Israel. And I think today it is at its height but it has a long way to go.

We have those shared values of which Bibi and I have both spoken – freedom, the rule of law, democracy. Easy to trip off the tongue but they’re scarcer than they should be and they require always determination, blood and treasure to defend and preserve. And our two nations have done that again and again.

We face common threats and we talked about those at length. The threat of Islamist terrorism in this region where our armed forces are of course in the anti-ISIL coalition.

And also of course in our region where we’ve seen ISIL insurrection, ISIL-backed insurrections in the Philippines. And again we’ve been supporting the Government of the Philippines in defending their democracy and their way of life against those terrorists so much closer to us. 

But the reality is that nowhere is very far away from anywhere. It does take the best part of a day to get here, Bibi, on an aeroplane but the truth is in a day of the internet, everywhere is just a fraction of a second away from everywhere else.

The truth is that technology has empowered individuals in a way that was scarcely imaginable not so many years ago but it is also empowered individuals and individual actors who seek to do us harm.

And so the cyber security agenda is more important than ever.

And that is why Dan Tehan - who is the Minister Assisting me on Cyber Security is here in Israel and will be with us tomorrow as also the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs – he is here leading a delegation for a cyber security dialogue here in Israel, happening right at the moment. And we are going to take that further to have a closer collaboration on cyber security and we’ll be having another dialogue with government industry and academia in Canberra next year.

We have a vital interest in working more closely together all of the time. More closely and intensely together to keep our people safe from terrorism and from the use of the internet, encrypted applications especially, which are so enabling terrorism in a way that would have seemed impossible as I said a few years ago.

Technology empowers the individual actor in every dimension but also it empowers individual actors who seek to do us harm.

I want to acknowledge the importance of the memorandum we have just signed.

We have a vitally important national enterprise to create a sovereign defence industry in Australia on a scale that matches our defence spending.

We have the largest investment in defence capabilities underway in Australia at the moment ever in peace time. A massive investment, particularly in our Naval forces. 54 Naval vessels will be built as a result of decisions taken by my government.

This is a huge commitment.

It is a commitment to advances manufacturing.

It is a commitment to our sovereign defence industries in Australia and we seek to partner with friends and allies all around the world and we look forward to deeper collaboration with Israel in defence industry and in particular in the cyber domain.

We are very dear friends. As you know, we feel at home.

Bibi talked about the warm welcome he had in Australia. And he did, much of it was in my electorate, in my district of Wentworth.

And you will feel very much at home tomorrow because a large percentage of my electorate will be with us. In fact, I’m told that the traffic has never been less congested as a result of the commemorations here in Israel. 

There is a warmth, there is a commitment, there is a passion for the values that we share in common.

And we have a shared history, we have shared values and you know, we now have a shared agenda to ensure that together we develop the industries, the technologies of the future. We collaborate on them.

There are 16 Israeli companies – did you know – listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Worth a couple of billion dollars. They’re not huge companies by the standards of the tech giants but you can see, that would’ve seemed an improbable thing to say – why would an Israeli company list on the Australian Stock Exchange? That shows you how much closer our two countries have become.

In the age of the internet everywhere is close to everywhere else. All it needs is for us to have the imagination to match the technology. There is plenty of technology. It’s the technological imagination that makes the difference and that needs leadership at our level, at a governmental level, at a private sector level.

Leadership and imagination is the key to harnessing that technology and making our partnership between Australia and Israel even greater in the future than it has been in the last century.

Thank you very much. It has been a very warm welcome. 


Thank you.