ASEAN Future Forum

24 April 2024

Second Plenary Session - Opening Remarks 

Senator the Hon Sue Lines, President of the Australian Senate 

Ensuring comprehensive security for a people-centred ASEAN Community 


I am delighted to join you today from sunny Perth. I begin acknowledging that I speaking to you from the lands of the Whadjuk People of the Noongar Nation. I pay my respects to elders past and present. 

I would like to start by thanking the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam for convening this event today.  

And by acknowledging Vietnam's initiative to create this new platform to discuss the critical issues shaping ASEAN's future. 

I would like to acknowledge the Prime Minister of Vietnam, the Honourable Pham Minh Chinh. 

The Prime Minister of Laos, the Honourable S Sonexay Siphandone.. 

The Foreign Minister of Indonesia, the Honourable Retno Marsudi.. 

And the External Affairs Minister of India, Honourable Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. 

2024 marks 50 years since Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner. 

In 1974, Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, described ASEAN at the as “unquestionably the most important, and the most relevant group in our region”. 

50 years later his words still ring true. 

Today, Australia’s relationship with ASEAN is based on more than just our close geography.  

It is based on 50 years of cooperation, respect, partnership and trust… 

And reinforced by our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.  

More than one million Australians were born in or have ancestry in Southeast Asia. 

Our populations are intertwined, and so are our futures. 

Last month Australia was honoured to host the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne.  

During the Summit, leaders from ASEAN countries, Timor-Leste, and Australia looked back on 50 years of partnership. 

And ahead to 50 more. 

The Leaders’ Vision Statement and the Melbourne Declaration, adopted at the Special Summit, reaffirm our collective commitment to an open, inclusive and transparent region. 

A region where ASEAN centrality plays a critical role in upholding long established rules and shaping norms that govern the region.   

A region where countries have the freedom to decide their own futures.  

A region where open markets facilitate flows of goods, services, capital and ideas. 

Colleagues, we must work together to address the shared challenges we face. 

ASEAN’s success to date lies in its focus on fostering cooperation at all levels of society, as well as between governments on these shared challenges. 

The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific is a deeply relevant example of this, and one that Australia strongly supports.  

It includes principles of ASEAN centrality, openness, transparency, inclusivity, and sovereignty. 

And these priorities have never been more relevant and they underpin ASEAN’s important role and contribution to security, resilience and prosperity in our region.  

Translating the AOIP principles into action is vitally important, and Australia is committed to supporting ASEAN to deliver concrete, practical projects based on its principles. 

One example is our support to the maritime elements of the AOIP.  

Through strengthening of the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum… 

working with partners on marine plastic… 

supporting the Blue Economy Framework… 

as well as supporting the ASEAN Carbon Neutrality strategy. 

This is why we held the Maritime Cooperation Forum during the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit… 

which explored further enhancing practical cooperation between ASEAN and Australia.     

And that is why in January this year, we co-hosted with Indonesia and Malaysia an ASEAN-Australia Track 2 Workshop on Conflict Prevention and the ASEAN-led Regional Architecture… 

for a creative discussion on how to strengthen ASEAN’s conflict prevention capabilities. 

Last year, here in Hanoi, we mapped out ways that our countries can work together to address and adapt to the climate crisis at the ASEAN-Australia High Level Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy Transition - co-chaired with Vietnam and Laos. 

And last month in Melbourne pre-eminent speakers from ASEAN and Australia discussed opportunities to work together to accelerate our energy transition at the Special Summit Climate and Clean Energy Track Forum.  

These are just some examples where we welcome ASEAN’s role in fostering cooperation to improve security, resilience and prosperity for communities. 

To quote Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, “Peace is not a gift and it’s never a given.” 

It has to be built, pursued, defended and upheld. 

We look forward to how the discussions from today will help shape our shared approach to the region.   

Australia remains deeply committed to supporting ASEAN in its critical role of bringing us together to support a peaceful and prosperous region. 

We have maintained this commitment for 50 years, and look forward to the next 50 years of even closer cooperation.

Thank you.