Israeli minister Shalom Simhon was in Australia for a week-long visit to strengthen the relationship between the governments of the State of Israel and Australia. Minister Simhon lead a business delegation consisting of 11 Israeli companies to Australia, but took a day out of that busy schedule to meet with his Federal counterparts and discuss numerous cooperation’s and agreements between the two countries.
The first meeting of the morning for Minister Simhon was with Minister Craig Emerson, Minister for Trade. During the meeting with Minister Emerson, there were discussions of the best way and ideas for enhancing economic relations between the two countries. These discussions were very fruitful. With the recent discovery of a very large gas field off the coast of Israel, the Ministers also discussed the best way to open this newly formed market to Australian companies who have many years of experience in this field. They also shared ideas on co-operation in Research & Development between Israel and Australia, and the trade of lamb and meat from Australia to Israel. Lastly, the Ministers discussed the double taxation issues between the two countries, with further discussions on all the issues raised in the meeting will be occurring.
The next meeting of the morning was with Minister Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Minister Simhon is very knowledgeable in this field as he himself is a former farmer and for many years was the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Israeli Government. Minister discussed various topics in their meeting. Minister Simhon invited Minister Ludwig to attend and lead an Australian delegation to the AgriTech Exhibition to be held in Israel from the 15th-17th May this year. Once again the Minister discussed the issues surrounding the exporting of lamb and meat from Australia to Israel. The Ministers shared their views on the best ways to fight desertification which both countries are working on fixing. The Ministers also discussed the mutually interesting topic of cooperation in marine agriculture and this is something that both countries are moving towards.
The next order of business for Minister Simhon was to meet with the Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Trade Sub-Committee. During this this meeting Mr Boas Hirsch, Director General of the Israeli Foreign Trade Administration gave a PowerPoint presentation that can be seen by clicking here.
Minister Simhon then attended a lunch put on by the Australia – Israel Parliamentary Friendship Association and took a tour of the Parliament Hourse.
The Minister then took time out to visit the Australian War Memorial. Minister Simhon paid his respect to Australian heritage by laying a wreath at the War Memorial and to show the continued support between the Israel and Australia.
It was back to meetings after the visit to the War Memorial and Minister Simhon met with Minister Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. In the meeting with Minister Conroy, Minister Simhon discussed the progression of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and what the best way for Israeli companies with a lot of experience in projects such as these could contribute to the NBN. The Minister also gave an overview of the Digital Media and Communications companies that were travelling with him to Australia, and Minister Conroy was impressed with the high caliber of companies out here. The Ministers then shared opinions on cooperation in international forums such as ITU and cooperation in 3rd countries that Israel does not have access to. In addition to these points, the Ministers briefly discussed a roaming agreement between the two countries.
The last official Ministerial meeting of the day was with Minister Greg Combet, Minister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The discussions with Minister Combet were surrounding the ongoing negotiations around a national joint Research & Development agreement. The State of Israel has an existing R&D agreement with the State of Victoria, but is looking to establish one on a Federal level too. There will be further discussions around this point in the months to come. Minister Simhon also discussed cooperation between the Industry sectors in Israel and Australia.
After many constructive and interesting meetings, Minister Simhon’s visit to Canberra was finished. There will be a lot of follow up to all the meetings that were conducted, and many positive results will come out of the meetings outlined above.