Australian Embassy



Klick below to find speeches by Australia's Ambassador to Germany and further news from Australia.



Farewell reception

Berlin 13 July 2023 


Remarks by Ambassador Philip Green 

Indigenous greeting - Yoomalundi

Sadly, Susan’s and my time in Berlin is coming to an end.  An exciting new opportunity lies ahead of us.  But we are sad to leave Berlin – a city we have come to love. And we are also sad to be depart the company of our  many German friends and colleagues. Engaging with you has been a joy – regularly deepening, sometimes challenging and always enriching.    

At this point, after nearly three years of benefitting from your company, your advice and the greatness of this global capital,  I have only one thing to say to you – and that is thank you.  But I have a few different things to thank you for. So please settle in for my list. 

Thank you for Zeitenwende, for Strompreisbremse, for Panzerlieferung, for Lieferkettengesetz. For all of the themes of German politics and economics for which there seemed to be a word to encapsulate the controversy, and to drive it. 

Thank you for the streets of Berlin. For everyone else – apart from us - seemingly walking with a bottle of beer in their hands. For community dancing by the Spree. For fireworks at New Years Eve. For Lastenfahrräder and for tour groups in every form of transport – from bikes to scooters to go-carts.  And thank you Berlin for every form of dress code known to humankind – and others known only to the people of Berlin. Your city gives “people-watching” a whole new meaning. 

Thank you for my favourite neighourhoods.  For the Hackische Höfe. For  Sonnenallee. For Kreuzberg. For Neukölln. For Boxhagener Platz.  For Markthalle Neun; for Monbijoustrasse (never was there a truer name – that place is genuinely a jewel). 

Thank you for German gastronomy. For Remi. For Tisk. For Hallmann and Klee. For Eins 44 and for Lokal. And for the Australian additions to German gastronomy – Tinman, Father Carpenter, Café LUC,  and Rocket and Basil. 

Thank you for what we in Australia call “typical German efficiency”. For Deutsche Bahn. For Berlin Brandenburg airport. For all the paper forms in triplicate or quintuplicate that I needed to sign.  Thank you for the retention of the fax machine – it makes me feel young again! 

Thank you for the music that has enriched our lives.  For the Philharmonie – where our subscription seats in ‘B Links’ remain my favourite places to be in the world.  To jazz at A Trane (my favour jazz club).  For the Staatsoper and the Deutche Oper – the one big advantage of a formerly divided city  is that you get two of each form of high culture!  Thank you for das Konzerthaus and to Huxley’s.  For B Flat and for Quasimodo. 

For culture more broadly.  Thank you for the Deutsches Theatre.  For the Berliner Ensemble. For the Pergamon and the Altes Museum.  For the Hamburger Bahnhof and for the Gropius Bau.  For our own Michael Reid Gallery. For the Jazzfest and for Berlinale. For Orte des Erinnerns. For the Hansavietel. For the individuals who made our hearts sing – Kirill Petrenko at the Philharmonie;  Tomas Oestermeyer and Lars Eidinger at the Schaubühne. 

Thank you for living history. For Bernauer Strasse.  For the Tränenpalast. For Cecilienhof. For Glienicker Brücke. For Stolpersteine. 

Thank you for Brandenburg, best enjoyed on a bicycle. Thank you for the Spreewald.  But also for lesser known places to ride. For Fürstenberg.  For Jüterbog; for rides from Küstrin along the polish border, tracing the Oder. For Angemünde. For the Oberuckersee. Thank you for the Märkische Schweiz – the sort of Schweitz which, at its highest point, is only 130 metres above sea level! 

Thank you for Berlin’s world class think tanks. For SWP, for ECFR, for BDI, for DGAP, for gppi. Merics and for GIGA.  The alphabet soup of Germany’s think tanks belies the ability of their staff to clarify the complex and shed light on the uncertain. I have learned so much from all of you. 

Thank you for the academies of science, which have so enriched our work here on the green transition. For akatech, for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, for the many Frauenhofer centres. 

Thank you for the quality of the conversation in Berlin – what I will continue to say is the aspect of this city I appreciate the most.  This is a city where people are searching for truth.  Where people understand the value of data- based analysis and sound argument.  Where people look for and  appreciate, and look for, the perspectives of others.

Thank you for German generosity.  Yes generosity – I know not always seen on the streets of Berlin.  But, look more deeply.  There is evident German generosity in the field of development assistance.  Germany spends 0.8 per cent of its income on development assistance, more than any other in the G7.  And that is so accepted in this society, that it goes almost without comment – and certainly no controversy.  It is German generosity that has made the EU possible.  I know that’s disputed.  But my view is that Germany has been generous.  Very generous.  And I see German generosity in the way that the climate challenge is actioned in this country.  There isn’t a major economy for whom the energy transition is harder than Germany.  But Germany is leading it, notwithstanding the real impact on its economy and society. I deeply respect German generosity. 

Thank you for your ready engagement with us. To the politicians, to the businesspeople, to the diplomats, to the thought leaders who gave us their time, and gave us their attention.  I am grateful to you all.  And I have been enormously enriched by your perspectives. 

Finally, three special thank yous

I will have an opportunity tomorrow to say farewell and thank my own team, but I want tonight to single out our deputy ambassador, soon to be charge d’affaires, Kate Luxford.  Kate has been as loyal dedicated and, dare I say it, as forbearing, as a deputy can be.  I thank you Kate. Kate will from tomorrow – following my recommendation – be acting ambassador for a period of months. Could I ask all of your to support her as you have so kindly helped me?

Second, to the team around Susan and me at Monbijoustrasse. To our exceptional Chef Adam, who has made modern Australian cuisine a feature of the Berlin life that so many of you have shared; and to his charming wife Estelle, who has brought grace and style to our dining table. 

To the wonderful Lolita Krueger, who works in the background to make everything about our home perfect.  Perhaps the most hard working person in the Embassy group; and not always the best recognised.  Lolita we are very much in your debt, and you will remain in our hearts. 

And finally, to the lodestar - as well as the star - of my life, the extraordinary Professor Susan Marks, my wife.  You provided a lens of clarity through which I could see this country, this people.  You enriched every moment with your perceptiveness, your sensitivity, your compassion and all your unending commitment for a better world.  Thank you my sweetheart for the endless ways in which you have made this three years – as well as our many other years – beautiful. 

Ladies and gentlemen, a this time tomorrow, we will climb abord a flight from here. On Sunday, we will be in Australia.  We will not return soon to this country.  But we will hold with us three years worth of magical memories. Thank you for that. 


Remarks by Prof Susan Marks

I would just like to add three points to what Philip has said.

He and I have absolutely loved our time in Berlin, and my first point concerns the embassy and residence staff who have smoothed our way, and made everything so easy and so very enjoyable. I want especially to give heartfelt thanks to Manuela, without whom there would have been nothing. Thanks also to Peter and the property team; to Carsten and now Adrian and Georg for getting us to places in the car; to Alexia for sorting out our IT problems; and to Katharina, Susanne, Laura and the rest of the public affairs team for so many fabulous exhibitions, concerts, dance performances and film festivals. Thanks to Kate, Robyn and the other Australia-based and locally engaged staffmembers for being such superb, and superbly professional, colleagues for Philip and for your kindness towards me. Huge thanks to Adam and Estelle for the dinners, lunches, breakfasts and afternoon teas that were always such an incredible treat. And most of all, I want publicly to thank Lolita; thank you Lolita for looking after Philip and me so beautifully at home. I will miss you.   

My second point is about the rest of you here, who have made all the difference to our time in Berlin. Our German teacher Gabi sadly can’t be with us, and certainly Philip und ich haben nicht ihre besten Schülerin gewesen aber unsere Unterrichtsstunden mit ihr waren immer ein Höhepunkt unserer Woche, so tausend Dank to her! I have had the immensely good fortune to hold a fellowship this year at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and I want to express my deep gratitude to Barbara and Daniel for that amazing experience, the only downside of which is that I have now been spoiled for ordinary academic life. I can’t mention everyone ­– there are too many of you here – so let me simply say to all the other friends we have made in all the many other contexts in which Philip and I have been lucky enough to get know wonderful people here: thank you, thank you, thank you for enriching our lives and making these years in Berlin such a joy!

My third point is of a slightly different order and will take a bit longer, but please bear with me. It is a reflection on this place which has been our temporary home. The twentieth century was not good for Germany. Many terrible things happened, many people suffered. As some of you know, I grew up in a Jewish family. My mother, who died many years ago and was not given to fixed ideas, did not wish to come to this country, and she never did so. Her father, my grandfather, lived for a time in Leipzig before the War (he moved there from Warsaw when he was around sixteen or seventeen), but still there was no question for my mother of ever visiting.

Well, I went to Leipzig recently to attend what they call Leipzig Jewish Week. This is an event that was originally set up for Holocaust survivors from Leipzig, but human finitude being what it is, there are no more Holocaust survivors from Leipzig, so now it brings together Jewish people with ancestors who were connected with Leipzig, members of the current and growing Leipzig Jewish community, and other Leipzigers. There were speeches; there was music; there was a vast programme of events, exhibitions, performances, and so on.  It was all done in the most strikingly sensitive, dignified and non-tokenistic way.

Unfortunately Philip and I could only stay for part of it, and as we were leaving, one of the people from the Leipzig city organising team was leaving the building at the same time. I complimented her on what a fabulous initiative I thought this was, and how marvellously I thought it was being realised. Without breaking her stride, she simply replied: ‘that’s our duty’. Reflecting on this on the train home, I thought about how, in many ways, that sums up the twenty-first century Germany I have known.

Leading the world on climate change action? That’s our duty. Taking in huge numbers of refugees from Syria and now Ukraine? That’s our duty. Being at the forefront of efforts to return human remains from museums to indigenous peoples, and also to confront the complicated issues around the return of artefacts like the Benin bronzes? That’s our duty. And all without breaking your stride, without fuss or fanfare or self-congratulation. Had she lived longer, I am certain that my mother would have come to Germany, and she would have seen, as I have, what an extraordinarily impressive society this is – humble, gracious, generous-spirited, independent-minded, and with this fantastically developed sense of responsibility, indeed this fantastically developed sense of justice.

I said there were three points, but in fact there is a very brief fourth. It’s another thank you, this time to Philip for bringing me to this incredible place, and for the three beautiful, unforgettable years we have spent here.




German Australian Business Council's Annual Ambassador’s Dinner 

Remarks by Ambassador Philip Green 

Geo-political and geo-economic drivers of a relationship between grown-up nations 

Frankfurt 15 June 2023 

  • President and Board members of the Germany Australia Business Council 
  • Agent General for New South Wales Stephen Cartwright 
  • Agent General for Western Australia John Langoulant 
  • CEO of the European Australian Business Council Jason Collins 
  • Friends and colleagues 

[Indigenous greeting  - “Yumalundi”] 

I am very pleased to be in Frankfurt and again addressing the Germany Australia Business Council.   

I want to use this opportunity firstly to thank and congratulate the GABC for the excellent work it does.   

You are an active and influential chamber.  You undertake numerous events, all focussed on key issues for business.  You make thoughtful submissions to governments both here and in Australia, and you promote Australia in Germany in an impressive way.   

The fact that your leadership does this at the same time as holding down demanding paid jobs makes the effort even more to their credit.  

I thank all of you who do that work.  Your service is much appreciated by me and the wider Australian community.   

Other members of the board will not mind, I am sure, if I single out the work of one person in particular - your Chair Sabine Pittrof, who is indefatigable in her leadership role.  We all thank you Sabine for your efforts, and congratulate you on everything you have done to support, sustain and lead the Council.   


Outline of remarks 

Tonight, I want to engage you on the very significant shifts taking place in Australia-Germany bilateral relationship.  

As I come to end of my posting as Australia’s Ambassador to Germany, I can honestly say that our bilateral relationship has never been stronger or deeper, and the economic opportunities have never been greater.  

In all of this, I will invite you to reflect on why this is taking place.  You will each have a perspective on it.  

For my part, I am convinced that there are fundamental geo-political and geo-economic drivers, that are the source of much of the buoyancy in our bilateral links.   

In doing, so, I am signalling that the changes we are seeing are not fleeting experiences associated with particular governments, policies or personalities - though all of those are part of the dynamic.  What I believe is that the vibrancy follows from drivers that are deeper and more powerful than those factors.   

And that of course is a reason for greater optimism - that what we are experiencing is deep-seated, and likely to be enduring.   

The German-Australian bilateral relationship  

I am pleased to report that the bilateral relationship is in a very good place.  In fact, senior Germans in Berlin tell me that it is at an all-time high.   

Whereas there was one identifiable problem area in the bilateral relationship under the previous Australian Government, that has been erased.  Issues around climate action are now a source of common effort in the bilateral relationship, rather than a source of friction.   

High level political contact is growing, though I would have to say that is off a low base.   

On the Australian side, we were delighted to welcome the German Minister for Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger to Australia last year.   

But I was surprised to find that her visit was the first by a German Cabinet member since 2014 - a nearly 10 year gap, the last ministerial visits being during Australia’s year as Chair of the G20. 

I am not in a position to announce the visits of other German Ministers, but I can tell you that the plans are multiple.  The pattern of the last decade is being broken.   

On the Australian side, interest in Germany has been brisk.  Since the new Australian Government came into power just over a year ago, we have seen the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Climate and Energy, the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Defence Industry and the Minister for Trade all visit Germany.   

Again, I can’t talk much about the future, but I would simply say - watch this space!  There is much more to come.   

I could nominate a range of fields of closer engagement, but let me say a little about Defence. We are certainly in a purple patch here.  We are seeing major defence units visiting Australia - the Frigate Bayern in 2021, Eurofighters from the Luftwaffe last year; and a contingent from the Heer will travel to Australia in just a few weeks to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre.   

The long collaboration in defence industry is taking new paths.  Luerrsen is building ships for our Navy.  Rheinmetall is making heavy trucks and heavy armoured vehicles for our troops.   

And beyond all of this, our governments are working towards an arrangement where Rheinmetall Defence Australia will build heavy weapon carrier vehicles for the Bundeswehr.  That’s right, armoured vehicles built in Queensland to meet Germany’s needs.   

I could go on about new defence policy talks, the meeting of our Defence Ministers at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and the visit by Parliamentary State Secretary for Defence Thomas Hitchler to Australia in March, or the fact that we have increased the size of our defence section in Berlin.  There’s a lot to say.   

The bottom line is that this is a level of cooperation that is unprecedented, and would have been difficult to imagine when I arrived here in 2020.   

New South Wales has been generous enough to sponsor tonight’s dinner, and that is an excellent segue to the new engagement by the Australian states in Germany. Along with NSW, the states of Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia have all dedicated more resources towards Germany during my time here.  Peter Malinauskas’s visit here early this heralded major new engagement by South Australia.   

And of course your part of the relationship - the business relationship - is key.  I salute those companies like Sonic Healthcare who are making such big advances in their sectors in Germany - proof that Australian high tech is part of the growing Australian story here.   

But before we get too excited, we need to remind ourselves that too much of what constitutes Australian exports to Germany don’t have that high tech flavour.  Our top three exports to this country are seeds, gold coins and precious metal ores.  I am sure that there is much that is clever in that trade, but I am ambitious enough to hope that more identifiably 21st century export items will outpace them soon.   

And on the German side, while the trade scene is vibrant - the best breed of Germany companies all seem to see Australia as a rich opportunity for good sales - investment lags.   

Why is it that Australia, the 13th biggest economy in the world, invests more in Germany, the world’s 4th biggest economy, than Germany invests in Australia?   

We could each speculate as to the many reasons why this is so.  But my focus over the last nearly three years has been to give German companies, and their government, better reasons to change the realities as they currently stand.   

In particular, I have been promoting Australia’s role as a `Renewable Energy Superpower’, and a potential exporter of hydrogen products to Germany - a prospect that is now just over the horizon.   

And that prospect brings me to the core of my address this evening - the geo-economic and geo-political drivers that could transform these realities, if we play our cards right, over the coming years.   


Geo-political context 

Geo-political tensions, particularly between major powers, are on the rise. War - in the most horrific and terrifying way - has returned to Europe.  One of the states that, after World War II, was given utmost responsibility for world peace and a seat on the UN Security Council, has launched an unprovoked and illegal invasion of a neighbour.   

Democracy’s global reach is under question.  You could debate whether democracy globally is shrinking or not.  But it is unarguable that the period - heralded by the fall of the Berlin Wall, when one could imagine the ever increasing expansion of democracy and human rights globally - is over.   

Blocs are forming.  Dialogue is shrinking.  More and more states are lamenting that they feel pressured into making unwanted choices between one superpower or another.   

These geo-political events have emerged as a significant driver of economic uncertainty.  

While geo-political risks are non-economic in origin, they have important repercussions on economic cooperation. 

Global supply chains are being re-examined and terms like “de-risking”, “diversification” and “friend-shoring” have become commonplace. 

What’s become clear is that trust in partners has never been more important. 

Geo-economic developments 

But alongside geo-political developments, geo-economic challenges continue to shape decision making. 

Global growth remains weak.  Australian Treasury predicts that global growth will slow from 3.4 per cent last year, to under three per cent this year. 

Globally, inflation is proving more stubborn than previously anticipated, even a few months ago. 

And we cannot forget the industries still recovering from the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. 

Interest rates and the cost of financing are on the rise.  

Overlaying these recent developments is the generational challenge of our time: namely, how we tackle climate change and move towards net zero. 

Taken together, these geo-economic challenges mean who we choose to cooperate with, to go into business with, matters more than ever. 

Where we commit resources, and deploy increasingly scarce capital around the world, matters. 

Against the background of a challenging global economic outlook, it is all the more important that we ensure the foundations for economic success are in good shape. 

More economic activity, through trade and investment with values partners, will be a key part of how we build the secure and stable economic future we want. 

It is also key that we invest energy and resources in the sectors that have particularly strong growth prospects for the future - which is why my focus has been squarely on renewable energy and how we can link Australia and Germany in an era of decarbonisation.   


Bilateral economic agenda 

Which is why the Australian Government has an ambitious economic agenda with Germany and the EU. 

The Australian Government's strong action on climate change has put us back in step with the rest of the world. 

As we move to net zero, there is now a remarkable alignment in policy ambition with Germany.  

We want to become a renewable energy superpower.   

As you no doubt know, I am a passionate advocate for Australia’s potential to become a renewable energy export superpower. 

I have devoted much time and effort during my term as Ambassador to Germany to demonstrating Australia’s credentials as a supplier of green hydrogen derivatives to Germany.  

The business proposition is simple. 

Australia has some of the best conditions, if not the best conditions globally, to produce green hydrogen 

  •  abundant sun in the day and persistent wind in the evening;  

  • we have a business, financial, legal and government ecosystem that knows the business of the export of energy - drawn from over thirty years as a major exporter of LNG;  

  • and we have a domestic landscape - sparse population and modest industry - which means that we can expect to have large quantities of excess green energy - and the natural way to employ that excess is by way of exporting hydrogen.   


We have drawn the attention of the leaders of German government and industry to these realities.  

And of course they well know that Germany will need large quantities of green hydrogen if it is to go anywhere near meeting its climate targets.   

Germany can do a fair bit of its decarbonisation job by greening its grid and electrifying sectors like domestic power and some transport.   

But some of Germany’s key industries - steel making, chemicals manufacture, shipping for example - will need the intense energy that electricity can’t supply.  Only molecular energy like hydrogen - replacing molecular energy like coal and gas - can do that part of their job.   

And in the German case the demand is massive - 120 terawatt hours by 2030, at least half of which will need to come from foreign sources.   

That is why the joint Australia Germany hydrogen feasibility study - led on the German side by the heavyweight names BDI and Acatech - came to three simple conclusions 


  • the supply chain is feasible 

  • the supply chain is highly desirable 

  • and, so far as we are talking about hydrogen derivatives like ammonia or methanol, the transport issues are not a major barrier.   


So this is where the geo-economic and geo political drivers come together.  Economies like Germany need vast supplies of green energy.   

They need them from reliable sources. They want diversity in supply, so even if there are some cost competitive suppliers nearby, Australia is still very much in the game.   

And if we are smart, we can drive these complementarities to help overcome the imbalance in the investment relationship.   

It is not a big step to imagine German investment in hydrogen capability in Australia or even German investment in the manufacture of the inputs to hydrogen production in Australia. 

The Australian Government is wise to these opportunities.  They are part of the backdrop for the announcement in last month’s budget of a new two billion dollar fund to  help bridge the current gap between production costs and off take of green hydrogen projects. 

Time doesn’t allow me to go into other examples of the way in which these geo-political and geo-economic drivers can provide the motor for other industries.  

But similar stories can be told about the green steel supply chain, and about critical minerals where 

  • geo-politics threatens fluid global supply chains 

  • and geo-economics tells us that these minerals will be crucial to power the batteries, the electric vehicles, the solar panels and the wind turbines that the world needs to transition to net zero.   


Just to underline that opportunity, Australia is the world's number one producer of lithium and titanium, and a top five producer of cobalt and rare earths.   

And Germany is a big user of these minerals and metals for their massive industrial needs - in auto manufacture, in the defence industry, in aerospace and in clean tech.   

So we see these tailwinds, and we are working hard to harness them to drive a better - a bigger, a more diverse, a more modern - bilateral economic relationship.   

If you will allow me the liberty, I want to say that - in pursuing these objectives, I have been enormously aided by my colleagues from Austrade based here in Frankfurt.   

I publicly thank them - all of them - and their leader here for Austrade in Central Europe, Anna Fedeles.  She is a dynamo.  Right now, she is a dynamo who is enjoying a very well-deserved holiday, but I welcome Paul Kenna who is with us tonight in his first month as Trade Commissioner for Germany.   

Securing a good FTA – the major converging point for a new era of cooperation 

There’s a final way in which geo-economics and geo-politics come together - and that’s in formal treaties by which governments signal their growing interest in bilateral trade and investment, and reduce the barriers to trade and investment between their territories.    

For us, this is the Australia-EU trade agreement, currently under intense negotiation.   

We are now in the political endgame stage of negotiations. The next few weeks will be critical. 

My message to you is simple.  

We are looking to business both in Australia and Germany to be vocal in support of an agreement.  

Now is the time to make your voice heard. To help intensify the momentum towards a concluding high quality and ambitious agreement.   

Here’s the pitch:  

 An Australia-EU trade agreement is in all of our economic and strategic interests.  

Trade and investment translate into jobs.  

And Australia is a trusted and reliable partner.  

 That’s why we continue to advocate strongly for an agreement which diversifies our trade, including in strategically important areas like energy and raw materials.  

The EU’s own analysis shows that an ambitious deal with Australia could increase EU exports to Australia by over 30 percent by 2030. 

Another way of looking at that advantage for the EU is to remind ourselves that the EU is currently at a competitive disadvantage to Australia’s other trading partners where tariffs have already been eliminated – importantly for Germany, this includes for automobiles.   

Every car built in Germany or elsewhere in Europe enters Australia with a 5 per cent tariff to pay.  From the economies with which we have FTAs - and that includes car makers in Japan, Korea and the US - no tariff is paid.  That’s a 5 per cent disadvantage for every German carmaker, for every car from Europe - in a competitive sector, that’s a lot.   

We want to reduce and eliminate tariffs. 

A trade agreement will bring real benefits such as reducing tariffs on resources and energy goods and supporting greater investment in energy and resources projects in both our economies. This is vital for both our green transitions. 

The mutual benefits are evident. But I must be clear: to be acceptable to Australia, a final deal must deliver commercially significant new market access, including in agriculture.  

Everyone here tonight has a deep and personal interest in improving the Australia-Germany economic relationship. Now is the time to use your voices to not just support a deal, but to actively advocate for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement that provides meaningful market access to Australian businesses.  


Closing remarks/personal reflections 

As many of you know, my time as Ambassador in Germany is drawing to a close.  This will be my final visit to Frankfurt in this role.  I will leave Germany on 14 July.  

My successor has not been nominated, but you will be in excellent hands for the next few months - at my recommendation, the government has asked Kate Luxford, the current Deputy Ambassador, to serve as Chargé d’Affaires for the next few months.  

I would ask you to support Kate as you have supported me.  I know that you will find her a very worthy acting Ambassador.  

As I take my leave, I hope you don’t mind if I use the opportunity to make a few final reflections.  

First, I would like to share the observation that Australia can be more influential than you might think, even in the competitive environment of a big G7 capital like Berlin.  

 I don’t want to overstate our influence, but am pleased to say that after nearly three years here, I have found the German government more interested and open to Australian perspectives than I would have expected. 

Geo-political and geo-economic tailwinds have helped. 

So has the position that Germany finds itself in Europe.  

Europe is divided east and west, north and south; Some of its largest partnerships are not as easy to navigate as Germany would like.  

The United Kingdom, formerly an ally in the councils of Europe, is no longer part of much of the European infrastructure.  

Further afield, notwithstanding how good a partner the Biden Administration has been, there are uncertainties in Berlin about the sort of partnership that Germany might have to navigate in the future in the US.   

Into that mix, Australia is - for Germany - like minded, trouble free, strong in security culture, and - at our best - full of insight.  

And, as Germany increasingly concludes that the Indo Pacific is more consequential for its future than it had expected, it is worth pausing to think about Germany’s options in our region. Who are their partners there.  They tell us that we are their preferred partner. 

That is a good environment in which Australian diplomacy can operate.  For an Australia that is sophisticated and tailored in its pitch, we can have an influence.  And we do. 

A second thought that I want to put on the record from my time in Germany relates to the quality of the conversation that I have had here.  

I could not have hoped to have a more thoughtful set of interlocutors than I have found in government, business and thought leadership in Germany.  

When people ask me what I like about Germany, I say that I cherish the quality of the conversation.  

I ceaselessly find counterparts whose minds are open, who are thoughtful and interested in the world, and - and this is sadly not the case everywhere in the world’s main capitals - people who are searching for truth.  

 It has been nothing short of a delight to deal with some of the intellectual, business, and political leaders of this country.  I have been enriched by it.  And, if they have been reading my reports (and I think that they have) the Australian Government has been enriched by it.  

I am in debt to the many thoughtful people I have had the privilege to engage with, including many who are in this room.  

Finally, there is a generosity in this country’s national discourse that is striking.  By head of population or by income, Germany is one of the biggest providers of assistance to the developing world.  Elsewhere aid budgets are being cut, as focus drills down on voters’ specific interests.  But in this country, the generosity goes on, and there is virtually no debate about it.  

The climate scene finds a similar story.  The energy transformation is harder for Germany than in most developed countries.  But the commitment here is high - I know there are debates, and there should be.  But the overall commitment to climate action in Germany outpaces all its comparator nations, notwithstanding the challenges that it produces economically and societally in Germany.  

Lastly, I see that generosity in the way Germany operates in its own region.  A fundamental strut which has undergirded the development of the European Union has been the preparedness of Germany to be generous.  There are debates about that too, I know, but my judgement is that Germany has been generous to its neighbours.  Very generous.  

I spoke this month to one of your business leaders about his recent visit to Croatia.  He had made it by car.  He observed matter-of-factly that, although this country invented the Autobahn, the roads are mostly better in Germany’s neighbours than in this country.  I have seen the same.  Did that worry him?  No, not at all.  Germany generosity was a necessity for the success of Germany’s neighbours and of the EU.  Their success was good for Germany.  And if, in relative terms, those other countries were getting the better of the deal, that was of no consequence.  


That, my dear friends, is a grown-up perspective from a grown-up country. 



Good evening

In Australia at important events like this, we begin with a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country, to underline our respect for our First Nations peoples. We are not on Country today, but I want to offer my respect to all Indigenous peoples, their elders, past, present and emerging.   

I greet you today - as I do in all speaking events in Germany - with the word “Yoomalundi “ which means “hello and welcome” in the language of one of the traditional custodians of the Country around our nation’s capital Canberra. Yoomalundi. 

My wife Susan and I are delighted to welcome you tonight: 

  • Guests from politics and government in Germany 
  • From the arts in Europe
  • My colleagues from the diplomatic corps
  • Andrea Zietzschmann, General Manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker

A special welcome to the Australian performers in the orchestra tonight:
Stanley Dodds - violin.  Matthew McDonald - bass. Harry Ward - violin. 

And to Simone’s husband, Greg Condon, who one senses is a powerful presence alongside the person with the baton in the family. 
It is my privilege to welcome a wide range of senior Australians to Germany. 
But tonight is, for me, very special. 
You might have done some research on Simone Young and noted that she is a celebrated conductor of world renown.  
You might have noticed that while she comes from my hometown of Sydney (though she grew up on Manly Beach in Sydney’s North while I was at Brontë in the East). But that she has really made her career in Europe, and particularly in Germany and the German speaking parts of Europe. 
She has served as

  • Chief conductor of the Hamburg philharmonic - where she undertook over 400 performances 
  • With more than 200 performances conducting at the Vienna Staatsoper
  • Vienna philharmonic- where she was the first woman to conduct the orchestra
  • She is a professor of music and theatre at the University of Hamburg 
  • You will see her galaxy of guest conducting engagements - the Opera Nationale de Paris, Covent Garden, the Met, LA, Cologne. The list goes on and on
  • Currently chief conductor at the Sydney Opera House - another place where she was the first female conductor. 
  • She holds the Goethe Medal, as well as Chevalier de Letters and Arts, not to mention the Order of Australia
  •  So that is the achievement, and we can only imagine the further heights that she may achieve.  

But can I invite you to cast your minds back, and to imagine what it was like for Simone arriving in Europe in the mid-80s …

  • Young in years
  • A woman
  • From the other side of the planet
  • A young mother if I understand right. 
  • Not a German speaker, at that time - though she has demonstrably remedied that

 The odds would have been stacked against her.  But she has prevailed. What is the special ingredient?   
Clearly, talent. Loads of it. Perfect pitch. 
A lively imagination for how the music can best be interpreted to bring out and amplify the composer’s intentions. 
A lifelong focus on making great music.  “Focus on the music”. Courage. Readiness to go for the ‘hard stuff.' 
But the more I looked at her background, the more I found that another set of attributes was crucial. “Hard work” is a phrase that keeps coming up. Along with persistence. Determination. She is described as exacting. Intense. And demanding - in a good way. These words and phrases keep coming up. 
So, if my German friends hoped to experience this evening the cartoon cut-out of a laid back, care-free Australian, I fear we will tonight disappoint you.  
(I might also ask you to look up the OECD studies into hours worked per week - you might be surprised to find that Australia is rather ahead of Germany in the list). 
In summary, to use a classical Australian expression, Simone Young is the ‘real deal.’   
One of the world’s finest conductors, who happens to be a woman. 
Simone, Maestro, you make us proud. 
In this supreme global house of music, you are not just at home. You shine. 
We congratulate you and thank you for tonight’s tour de force.  
Would you be kind enough to say a few words to our guests?  



Grassi Museum (State Ethnographic Collections)

Leipzig, 17 November 2022

Ms Barbara Klepsch, State Minister for Culture and Tourism of the Free State of Saxony
Ms Susan Templeman, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for the Arts
Ms Leontine Meijer van Mensch, Director of the State Ethnographic Collections of Saxony
Dirk Burghardt, Managing Director of the State Collections of the Free State of Saxony

Most importantly today, I acknowledge The Traditional Custodians here today who represent the Mutthi Mutthi, Worimi, Gannagal und Awabakal Countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am Philip Green, the Australian Ambassador to Germany.

In Australia at important events like this, we begin with a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country, to underline our respect for our First Nations peoples. We are not on Country today, but I want to offer my respect to all Indigenous peoples, their elders, past, present and emerging; and to pay my respects to all of the Indigenous people here today.  

I greet you today - as I do in all speaking events in Germany - with the word “Yoomalundi “ which means “hello and welcome” in the language of the traditional custodians of the Country around our nation’s capital Canberra. Yoomalundi. 

We are here today to participate and bear witness to the hand-over of six ancestors of Indigenous people, so that they can be returned to their own countries. 

Here in Leipzig, deep in central Europe, we are a world away from the home places in Australia of these six ancestors. And that vast distance makes even more profound the sense that we all must have - that there is something disturbing and unnatural in the removal of these ancestors to this far away land. 

Today is being corrected, or at least ameliorated, a substantial wrong.

It is an altogether good thing to be doing. To be returning ancestors to their countries and to their communities.  

Susan Templeman has already spoken about Australia’s reconciliation journey, the injustices of our past, and the characteristic generosity of our Indigenous peoples. I don’t need to repeat her remarks. I fully endorse them. I do want to note, however, that her presence today is meaningful – it is the first time that a member of the Australian parliament has been specifically sent by our government to grace a repatriation event in Germany.

As the Australian Government’s representative here in Germany, what I can best do today is to offer some thoughts about our Government’s efforts to seek the return of ancestors from this country to their home places.

First and foremost, I want to underline that the Australian Government has long held a commitment to seeing the return of ancestors to their rightful home. For over 30 years, governments have supported the return of ancestors.  

As a result of that commitment, since 1990, more than 1600 ancestors, from nine countries, have been returned to Australia. 

Germany is important in this context. 

Germany is one of a group of countries with which Australia has close working arrangements for the return of ancestors. Similar arrangements have been struck with institutions in Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

We enjoy strong partnership with Germany, and with all its constituent States or Länder. Indeed, all of Germany’s governments - the federal government and each of the sixteen state governments of Germany - support the return of ancestors.  

We thank the Federal Government of Germany, represented here today by Mr Stefan Rössel from the German Foreign Office, for their support. 

We thank the government of the Free State of Saxony through you, State Minister Klepsch, as we thank all of the state governments of Germany who support us in this endeavour.   

With this support, our embassy reaches out to institutions in Germany to enquire about ancestral remains, and to seek their return. 

We receive much support from institutions in Germany. I am pleased to report that support from German institutions is widespread, and it is growing. But it is not universal. A minority of institutions are reluctant. We continue to engage them.  

I want to thank this institution, the State Ethnographic Collections, for its strong partnership with us. I want to thank in particular, Director Léontine Meijer-van Mensch for that. 

And it is also essential in this respect that I express our special gratitude to Dr Birgit Scheps-Bretschneider for her pathbreaking role in cooperation in the return of ancestors.  

This is the third repatriation of ancestors from the State Ethnographic Collections. With the six ancestors being returned today, there will have been a total of 89 ancestors repatriated from the State Ethnographic Collections to Australia.  

And, in addition to the State Ethnographic Collections, we have been working with four other German institutions to return ancestors. In total, including this return today, 157 ancestors will have been returned from Germany. 

We do not know what proportion of the total number of ancestors this represents, as we don’t know for sure how many ancestors are held in Germany. But I can report to you that we are actively seeking the return of approximately 100 more ancestors currently held by German institutions or private collections. 

Our work continues. Our partnership with German governments and institutions continues. We have much more to do. 

I am proud of the work that our government does to facilitate the return of ancestors to Australia. It is important work, and part of our overall reconciliation journey with our First Nations peoples.  

We could not do this work, without the diligence and commitment of our colleagues from the Office for the Arts in Canberra. I want to thank here today David Doble and Amanda Morley for their unstinting work to bring ancestors home.  

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to commend the Traditional Custodians for the strength they have shown by travelling here and taking on the heavy responsibility to represent their communities, and to receive their ancestors and bring them home. 

This ceremony today signifies the start of a long journey home for these ancestors and for the delegation that will accompany them. 

I wish them safe passage home and I hope for a sense of closure for the Mutthi Mutthi, Worimi, Gannagal und Awabakal people’s once their ancestors are laid to rest on Country.