Australian Embassy

International Intern Event at the Australian Embassy

On 19 February our interns, Caitlin Clifford and Brenton Kanowski, hosted an event at the Embassy for interns of other diplomatic missions and German Government departments. The event included a tour of our historic embassy and a reception in our ‘Roo Bar’. With representatives from all over the world – including Spain, Lithuania, the US, Ukraine, Finland, New Zealand and, of course, Germany – the group had the opportunity to learn more about Australia and share stories and experiences amongst themselves about their time in Berlin.

Group of international interns at the Australian Embassy

Group of international interns at the Australian Embassy

It was good to see our interns taking this positive initiative and it reinforces what I mentioned to the group, that the intern program really does make a positive contribution to the working life of the embassy. Caitlin and Brenton took up the opportunity to showcase Australia to a very diverse group of people and I am pleased to have welcomed the group to our little piece of Australia, right here in the heart of Europe.

Ambassador Ritchie welcoming the group

Ambassador Ritchie welcoming the group

Our interns have to opportunity to participate not just in the more serious side of the embassy’s work but also the social side and Caitlin and Brenton were excellent ‘ambassadors’ in their own right that day. I encourage any interested university students or recent graduates to consider applying via our website.

Our interns Caitlin and Brenton playing a "True or False Quiz" about Australian facts with the our guests

Our interns Caitlin and Brenton playing a “True or False Quiz” with our guests

 

The Australian Embassy in Berlin welcomes applications from university students and recent graduates expressing an interest in Australia’s international relations. The Internship offers the opportunity to gain an insight into the work of an Embassy and is usually 8-12 weeks in duration. For more information, visit the embassy’s website.

BERLINALE-FIEBER

Der Berliner Winter ist bald vorbei, und die Stadt ist im Berlinale-Fieber. Auch bei der diesjährigen 66. Berlinale sind wieder faszinierende Filme von australischen Regisseuren in verschiedenen Sektionen des Filmfestivals vertreten.

Wie in den vergangenen Jahren hatte ich wieder das Vergnügen, zusammen mit Graeme Mason, dem CEO von Screen Australia, zum Berlinale-Empfang einzuladen -diesmal in die elegante Catwalk-Bar. Unser „Australien-Empfang“ hat mittlerweile einen festen Platz im Berlinale-Kalender und erfreut sich bei unseren Gästen aus der australischen und internationalen Filmindustrie großer Beliebtheit als Branchentreff.

Zu unseren Ehrengästen zählten dieses Jahr das Filmteam von GIRL ASLEEP, dem wunderbaren Debutfilm der renommierten australischen Theaterregisseurin Rosemary Myers. Als Eröffnungsfilm der Generation 14plus bezauberte GIRL ASLEEP das Publikum, das nach der Filmvorführung die Gelegenheit nutzte, Fragen direkt an das Filmteam und seine herausragenden jungen Schauspieler zu richten.

Bethany Whitmore und Harrison Feldman von Girl Asleep mit einer Feundin bei unserer Berlinale-Veranstaltung in der Catwalk Bar

L-R: Bethany Whitmore und Harrison Feldman von Girl Asleep mit einer Feundin bei unserer Berlinale-Veranstaltung in der Catwalk Bar

 

Weitere Ehrengäste waren das Team von CLEVERMAN, der spektakulären TV-Serie von Regisseur Wayne Blair – ein beeindruckendes Beispiel für zeitgenössisches ‚indigenous storytelling‘. CLEVERMAN lief auf Einladung des Festivaldirektors in der Berlinale Special Series vor einem begeisterten Weltpremierenpublikum, und ich bin sicher, dass die Serie bei ihrem TV-Start weltweit für Furore sorgen wird.

Ich bedanke mich bei allen australischen Filmschaffenden für ihre großartige Arbeit und wünsche viel Glück bei der Vergabe der diesjährigen Berlinale-Preise.

Fotos: James Coldrey

Strengthening Australian-Swiss Economic Ties: New Austrade Office in Zurich

I am delighted to welcome a new addition to the Austrade network in Zurich, reflecting the increasingly dynamic relationship and ever deepening ties between Australia and Switzerland. Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb marked the opening of the new Austrade office during his visit to Zurich on 19-20 January 2016, ahead of his attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Australia and Switzerland share many common political and economic values and interests. A key element of our contemporary relationship is Switzerland’s significant investment in Australia. Switzerland represents one of our largest investment markets and our economic ties with Switzerland are strengthening and growing. While the Swiss market has been well serviced by Austrade’s Frankfurt office, now is an opportune, and indeed exciting, time to further consolidate Australian-Swiss economic ties through an Austrade office in Zurich.

The office will complement existing strong bilateral ties in the areas of scientific research and development, education, and two-way investment. The Zurich office will work primarily on expanding Austrade’s network into the Swiss market and on driving the investment agenda across priority sectors.

Nicolas Bentel will head up the new Austrade office. Nicolas joins Austrade from UBS in Zurich, where he was most recently the Head Investment Specialist for the Latin American team and a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for Global Emerging Markets. Nicolas will work closely with me and my colleagues at the Australia Embassy in Berlin and the Australia Swiss Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

I am delighted to welcome Nicolas to Zurich and embrace this new opportunity to strengthen Australian-Swiss relations through this valuable addition to the Austrade network.

 

Ein erfolgreiches Jahr liegt hinter uns – wir freuen uns auf 2016

Ein kurzer Blick zurück zeigt uns: Ein Jahr mit sehr intensiven bilateralen Kontakten und erfolgreicher Arbeit liegt hinter uns. Die Beziehungen zwischen Australien und Deutschland konnten mit dem Austausch im Kreis der Australia-Germany Advisory Group auf eine neue Ebene gebracht werden. Den beiden Regierungschefs und allen, die in unterschiedlichen Bereichen zwischen Australien und Deutschland tätig sind, liegt nun ein gutes Dokument mit Empfehlungen für ein breites Spektrum von Aktivitäten und Maßnahmen vor, an dem wir uns in den kommenden Monaten orientieren werden.

Wir freuen uns also auf 2016 und werden das neue Jahr beginnen mit Elan und dem Ehrgeiz, unsere Pläne nun mit Leben zu füllen.

Zunächst möchte ich aber zum Ausklang von 2015 noch eine schöne Veranstaltung erwähnen, die bei uns in der Botschaft in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Förderkreis Denkmal der ermordeten Juden Europas in Berlin den Blick auf ein Stück gemeinsamer Geschichte lenkte: die „Landung in Australien“ (so auch sein Buchtitel) von Egon Erwin Kisch, dem bekannten Journalisten und Autor der 1920er und 30er Jahre. Wir haben dabei von einem Kisch-Spezialisten, dem Wiener Professor Markus Patka, sehr interessante Details über die Reise von Kisch 1934-35 nach Australien erfahren.

Mit Professor Markus Patka und Lea Rosh vom Förderkreis in der Botschaft vor einem Powerpoint-Bildschirm

Mit Professor Markus Patka und Lea Rosh vom Förderkreis bei uns in der Botschaft

Ihnen allen wünsche ich eine schöne Weihnachtszeit, erholsame Feiertage und einen guten Jahreswechsel.

Botschafter Ritchie steht neben einem Strohkänguru vor einem Weihnachtsbaum

Cities and the Built Environment: Germany and Australia Learning from Each Other

We were delighted to welcome the Hon Jamie Briggs MP, Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, for a visit to Munich last week focusing on Munich’s approach to integrated planning, housing, public transport and accessibility, innovation and economic growth.

Munich is Germany’s third-largest city and one of its fastest-growing, with a current population of 2.8 million in the Greater Munich area, projected to grow to 3 million by 2030. Munich shares many similarities with a number of Australia’s fastest-growing cities, and the Minister was keen to understand how the city has managed its recent growth, as well as its approaches to the integration of migrant communities.

A highlight of the Minister’s visit was the meeting with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs, where the Minister heard about Bavaria’s approach to integrated planning, as well as the significant integration challenges arising from the recent influx of asylum-seekers to the region.

Photo of Minister Briggs with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs standing next to each other

Minister Briggs with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs

 

The Minister’s meeting with representatives of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK) focused on trade and investment, innovation and the collaboration between universities, institutes and industry in Bavaria. Minister Briggs said Australia was keen to collaborate more with Germany on innovation and commercialisation, and agreed we should do more to boost trade and investment, including exports of Australian wine to the Bavarian region.

Minister Briggs stands next to Peter Driessen, Managing Director IHK Munich. They have exhanged gifts and hold them in their hands. Briggs has received a Bavarian cup and Driessen holds a wrapped package.

Minister Briggs and Peter Driessen, Managing Director IHK Munich

A discussion with representatives of the Munich Transport Company (MVG) offered insights into the city’s highly successful integrated approach to public transport and urban planning. At the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Minister heard about Munich’s experiences with the integration of asylum-seekers in the region, including the importance of targeted language courses, training and skills recognition to promote quick integration into German society.

During the discussions, Minister Briggs highlighted the warm and longstanding people-to-people links between Australia and Germany, including in his South Australian electorate. Echoing the recommendations from the recent report of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, Minister Briggs emphasised that Australia wanted to build on these existing links to strengthen bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Turnbull on a visit to Berlin

The Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, made an enormously successful visit to Berlin on Friday, 13 November, only the third country he had visited since becoming Prime Minister.  Mr Turnbull was accompanied by his wife, Lucy Turnbull AO, and by the Australian Finance Minister, Senator Mathias Cormann.
During his visit the Prime Minister was hosted by Chancellor Merkel at a working lunch in the Federal Chancellery, met the German Foreign Minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, had a roundtable meeting with very senior German business leaders and attended a reception in his honour at the Australian Embassy.  He also met German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble during a private dinner on the evening of 13 November.
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Prime Minister Turnbull was hosted by Chancellor Merkel at a working lunch in the Federal Chancellery

The main focus of the Prime Minister’s visit was receiving the report of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, established when Chancellor Merkel visited Australia in November 2014 to look at ways of upgrading and strengthening the already very close and warm bilateral relationship between Germany and Australia.  The Co-Chairs of the Advisory Group are Senator Cormann on the Australian side and the Staatsministerin in the German Foreign Office, Professor Maria Böhmer. Senator Cormann and Minister Böhmer presented the report to the Prime Minister and Chancellor following their meeting at the Chancellery.
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The report contains 59 major recommendations aimed at building a much stronger and more modern relationship between the two countries.  All 59 recommendations have now been agreed to by both the Prime Minister and Chancellor and will now be implemented.  Of particular note is a decision by both countries to have a regular “2 + 2” dialogue of their Foreign and Defence Ministers to discuss major international and strategic issues.
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In addition, on 12 November, Senator Cormann and Finance Minister Schäuble signed a revised Australia-Germany Double Taxation Agreement, the first such revision since the agreement was originally signed in 1972.  The revision of the Agreement will benefit both the Australian and German business communities significantly.  The signature of the Agreement represented the implementation of the first of the Advisory Group’s recommendations.
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Senator Cormann and Finance Minister Schäuble signed a revised Australia-Germany Double Taxation Agreement

I commend the report to you all and urge you to read it.  It is an excellent outcome from a year’s dedicated work both by the two Co-Chairs and by all members of the Advisory Group, which included Lucy Turnbull.
Chancellor Merkel and the Prime Minister agreed that Senator Cormann and Professor Böhmer should continue to monitor the implementations of the report’s recommendations and to report back to them on progress in doing so in 12 months.
Sadly, following the completion of his program in Berlin, the terrible terrorist attacks occurred in Paris.  Follow this link to see the Prime Minister’s comments on these awful events from Berlin.

 

Interning at the Australian Embassy: A Summer in Berlin

For a number of years now, we have offered the opportunity to do an internship at the Australian Embassy in Berlin. We are one of the few Australian Embassies around the world that does so. This gives university students and recent graduates the chance to get an insight into our work representing Australia and to better understand Australia’s relations with Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The internships last between two and three months and in that time we encourage interns to make the experience their own. Interns get the chance to contribute in the Political Economic and Public Affairs Sections as well as being included in the life of the Embassy. We also organise briefings for the interns about the consular, immigration and defence work that we do at the Embassy.

One of our interns, Mark Rowe, has been with us since the beginning of June and will be leaving us next week to return to the cold of Canberra to continue his Arts/Law studies at the Australian National University.

Our intern Mark together with Ambassador Ritchie in front of a German and Australian flag in the embassy building.

Our intern Mark Rowe and Ambassador David Ritchie

“I was fortunate enough for my internship at the Embassy to coincide with the first meeting of the Australian-German Advisory Group. I was able to get a much better understanding of the extent of German-Australian relations as they now stand as well as an insight into how these might be deepened in the future. On top of this I had the chance to attend a whole variety of events: in the Australian Embassy (the German Australian Science Circle and the Melbourne String Ensemble Concert), events at other Embassies in Berlin (French, US, Brazilian, Mexican) and at NGOs and think tanks. I even got the chance to get a guided tour of the Bundestag and watch the German equivalent of Question Time. The highlight for me, however, was the chance to immerse myself in German domestic and foreign policy. Having the chance to work on topical issues and watch them evolve—from the Greek financial crisis to European refugee policy to Germany’s Energiewende—has been fascinating. The staff at the Embassy have been very generous with their time and expertise, providing briefings on their respective areas of responsibility in the Embassy and helping me to get the most out of my time here. I would encourage anyone with a passion for Germany and looking to get an inside view of what it’s like to work for DFAT to definitely apply.”– Mark Rowe (Intern June-August 2015)

For more information about the internship, please visit our website.