The Chamber's first-ever Canberra Delegation a Success

AHK Update from Dr Michael Zettinig, Director of Policy

At the end of March, during the last sitting week of the Australian Parliament before the budget week in early May, the German-Australian Chamber organised its first-ever Canberra Delegation, titled Canberra Door-knock.

The sold-out delegation was a full success and included participants from Germany for this opportunity. This included raising issues of importance to the German-Australian business community with key stakeholders in Canberra, particularly Ministers, Shadow Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators and key Department representatives. Key issues were also raised at the German-Australian Industry Breakfast at Parliament House on 27 March, where speakers included Chamber Patron Ambassador H.E. Dr Anna Prinz, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Board Chairman Ron Koehler, outgoing Executive Director Kristian Wolf and industry experts Jeff Connolly, Rolf Drohn and Martin Hildebrand as well as German Member of Parliament Carsten Müller. Carsten Müller was in Canberra as part of a high-level European energy-related delegation on the occasion of the first-ever bilateral Energy Dialogue, organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Other participants of that delegation were Prof Friedbert Flüger from King’s College London and Dr Joachim Lang, Director General of BDI, Federal of German Industries. We were able to share several program points with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung delegation and discuss areas of common interest such as energy policy.

Our Canberra Delegation was developed as a result of the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) in Perth, including the positive feedback about the policy panels there.

In our discussions with Ministers and Shadow Ministers, we were able to discuss key issues we face such as immigration, skills and education, the upcoming Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill and energy policy. At the same time, the delegation offered the participants the opportunity to raise issues that affects their businesses directly with decision makers. For our roundtable discussions, we very much followed a bipartisan approach by inviting government representatives such as Minister Michaelia Cash (Jobs and Innovation) and Minister Christopher Pyne (Defence Industry) as well as Shadow Ministers Mark Butler (Climate Change and Energy), Jason Clare (Investment and Trade), Richard Marles (Defence) and Kim Carr (Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) to discuss with us in a very interactive format. A subgroup of the delegation also discussed the key defence acquisition programs with key representatives at the Department of Defence.

Over lunch, we had an opportunity to discuss with Ivano Casella (Trade Councillor at the Delegation of the European Union to Australia) and Dr Marie Kronberg (Head of Economic and Trade Section at the German Embassy) about the latest developments and the timeline for the formal launch of the negotiations for the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement.

On Tuesday evening, the delegation was invited by German Ambassador Dr Anna Prinz to a very special dinner reception to award Ron Koehler with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for long-standing dedicated work to deepen the bilateral relationship and to farewell Executive Director Kristian Wolf.

We concluded the delegation program with discussions about innovation and partnership opportunities in the ACT, including with Minister Shane Rattenbury and leading technology innovators from the ACT at the beautiful setting of the National Arboretum Canberra.

This delegation would not have been possible without the active participation of the delegates as well as the close collaboration with the German Embassy, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Dr Hannelore Duczek, the office of Minister Mathias Cormann, the ACT Government as well as the International and Parliamentary Relations Office at the Parliament of Australia. We thank them and all our discussion partners for making the first-ever Canberra Delegation such as success. This success was also possible through the collaboration of the Board and Chamber team, including Kristian Wolf and Lars Mehlan.

We are looking forward to offering our members further opportunities to discuss policy topics, including at the upcoming APRC Business Summit in Melbourne on 21 September 2018.