Australia and ASEAN celebrate their 50th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations with a special summit in 2024

Following the 36th ASEAN -Australia Forum held in Melbourne, Australia's new resident Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Ms Tiffany McDonald, presented her Letter of Credence to Secretary-General Dr Kao Kim Hourn at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. This year Australia and ASEAN celebrate their 50th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations.

Australian Ambassador Tiffany McDonald with ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Kao Kim Hourn

Dr Kao underscored the importance of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations that contributes to the development and promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and stressed the commitment of both sides to further strengthen the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

He also expressed the ASEAN Secretariat’s readiness to work with Ambassador McDonald and the Mission of Australia to ASEAN to promote ASEAN-Australia cooperation, especially in light of the 50th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations this year. Ambassador McDonald reaffirmed ASEAN as an important partner for Australia, and Australia’s commitment to further strengthening cooperation with ASEAN under the ASEAN-Australia CSP, as well as supporting ASEAN Centrality and ASEAN Community-building efforts.

ASEAN and Australia established Dialogue Relations in 1974, which was elevated to Strategic Partnership in 2014 on the occasion of 40th Anniversary of the relationship. Both sides established the ASEAN-Australia CSP in 2021.

ASEAN Secretaries-General meet with Australian officials in Canberra, 1974

Over the past 50 years, cooperation between ASEAN and Australia have continuously developed, deepened and expanded to cover a wide range of areas across the three ASEAN Community pillars. Both sides are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations this year with the convening of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne, Australia, on 4-6 March 2024. Relations between Australia and ASEAN have waxed and waned through the years, Ms Sue Thompson writes in a commemorative article for the Lowy Institute, b
ut after 50 years of dialogue, the relationship has matured on economic, political and strategic interests:

"Responding to the economic and political policies of the individual ASEAN members vis-à-vis those of the regional entity has been a major issue for Australia over the decades, especially as the strategic and economic landscape has evolved since the end of the Cold War and the expansion of ASEAN membership that now includes Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar in addition to the original five. "Nevertheless, the relationship has continued with Australia’s participation in several ASEAN initiatives such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, Free Trade Agreements, and the East Asia Summit. In 1974, Canberra saw ASEAN as an important vehicle for economic development that went hand-in-hand with internal Southeast Asian security, and this lay the foundations for Canberra’s continued acceptance of ASEAN as a significant regional forum."

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs signs Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, 2005

The 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit is intended to enhance cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established in 2021 and will bring leaders together to look ahead to the next 50 years of ASEAN-Australia cooperation. The Special Summit will also bring together emerging leaders and experts to foster economic, climate and clean energy, and maritime cooperation efforts. In addition to a Leaders’ plenary and retreat, the three-day Summit will provide an opportunity to further strengthen our partnerships through events centred around key focus areas – Business, Emerging Leaders, Climate and Clean Energy, and Maritime Cooperation. Events will focus on key sectors and themes of Australia's Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 (a report by Mr Nicholas Moore AO, Special Envoy for Southeast Asia), including a particular focus on greater trade and investment between Australia and Southeast Asia and our collective Green energy transition:

A CEO Business Forum will bring together Australian and Southeast Asian business leaders, industry stakeholders and government agencies to discuss ways to strengthen two-way trade and investment.

An SME Conference, accompanied by an SME Marketplace featuring trade and investment experts to provide advice to Australian SMEs interested in doing business with Southeast Asia. The next generation of Australian and ASEAN leaders will participate in an Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue, which will seek to foster a common understanding of the key long-term challenges that ASEAN and Australia jointly face, and identify areas for further cooperation.

A Climate and Clean Energy Forum will bring together ASEAN and Australian representatives from governments, academia, think tanks, civil society and the private sector to promote the exchange of ideas and consider opportunities to further the energy transition across the region.

The Blue Economy and maritime security issues will be considered in new academic research at the Maritime Cooperation Conference. Perspectives on regional maritime challenges and opportunities will be shared at the Maritime Cooperation Track 1.5 Dialogue.

The Summit will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in the heart of Melbourne, capital of Australia's Victoria state.

Ambassador Tiffany McDonald is a senior career officer with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has previously served overseas as High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, and at diplomatic posts in France, Holy See, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Indonesia.

Before her diplomatic service, she worked as Director of CPDS - Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies (UK), Senior Adviser to Global Counsel (UK), External Relations Officer at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (Indonesia), and as an Employment Lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron.

She completed her law degree at The Australian National University and her Masters, Law at The University of Queensland.

She said this is an "exciting time to commence as Australia's Ambassador to ASEAN as we celebrate 50 years of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations in 2024" and is looking forward to our #ASEAN50Aus Special Summit in Melbourne in March."