Innovators, Academics, Heads of Industry and Politicians convened on Lancaster House in London earlier this month as part of a bilateral conference between Australian and British delegations participating in the Australia UK Leadership Forum (AUKLF); a series of talks aimed at ‘Reimagining and Helping Shape the Australian/British Bilateral Relationship’.

Head of the Australian Delegation, The Hon. Julie Bishop Minister for Foreign Affairs and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, The Hon. Jeremy Hunt officially opened the conference on Tuesday evening, coinciding with the centenary of the opening of ‘Australia House’, our oldest diplomatic mission and the longest continuously operating embassy in Britain today.

In her opening speech, Mrs. Bishop said that “Australia is committed to our dearest and trusted friend… our best days are ahead of us.

The forums central theme was discovering a reciprocal relationship that could be formed post-Brexit, learning from past experiences in international relations and looking towards the future.

We look forward to the next regeneration of the British vision, and we look forward to continuing as the strongest of economic partners in the years ahead.” Mrs. Bishop said in closing.

I was given the honour of participating in discussions on economics, strategy, and social and cultural cohesion, after the Hendry Group was recognised internationally for our approach to innovation within these spaces.

Since Britain entered the EU in the 1970’s, Australia has experienced a limited relationship with our commonwealth partner. Today however, we stand to reform our relationship and forge new ties and open new opportunities between our nations.

Our nations share in a unique historical partnership, sharing of many of the same cultural and political values and issues over time. With world politics and cultural dynamics in a state of flux, technological advancement creating disruptions across industry and changing socio-economic factors, we are certainly in a transformational time.

Therefore,

it has never been more important to discuss how we decide to progress our international relationships into the future,

reimagining and reshaping how it could be beneficial for both countries involved.

It was also great that we started with an ambitious goal for Free Trade Agreements in discussing what it would take to achieve. We have a strong opportunity to work together to create a robust relationship; sharing economic, cultural and political insights and turning these insights into ideas and outcomes, taking inspiration from what other countries have “done right economically.” as Dr Martin Parkinson said.

During the two-day conference, we heard many discussions around how the rules of the game are changing for world-leading societies and how the digital economy is changing how we operate and do business on a global scale. This also led to what these transformations mean for our universities, our future workforces and the people and capital which flows between our two nations.

Some key takeaways which I found particularly significant were across:
Political landscape – Discussion was centred on the rules-based approach (which the UK and Australia have favoured) vs the power-based approach, and how we are able to find new solutions to work towards achieving shared objectives.

Universities – The main factor in this area was the importance of focussing on collaboration; to create, innovate and generate, and not just to educate.

Digital treaties – and how to manage the digital space when regulation cannot keep up with technological advancement, understanding the potential impact for businesses regarding data and privacy. There were conversations on how to alleviate social and corporate anxiety around technology, digital assets and data to accelerate the growth of transformation, innovation and adoption solutions, promoting a better flow of data, capital and people between our two nations.

I look forward to seeing how leaders and innovators in Australia and the United Kingdom will advance this partnership following Brexit, creating possibilities in both directions moving forward. This was a truly productive and eye-opening forum for creating opportunities to expand the AU/UK relationship.