Speech on good governance during the PA3i National Convention
The theme of this National Convention - good governance - is both relevant and timely. I commend you for choosing it.
President Aquino, at the beginning of his term, laid out an ambitious reform agenda anchored on a platform of good governance. Australia very much shares the good governance agenda of the Philippines. Our programs and investments here are designed to support the Philippines’ own reforms.
In the Australia-Philippines Development Cooperation Program Statement of Commitment signed in March, our two countries committed to support “an accountable, transparent and effective governance to ensure that resources are effectively and efficiently used for the delivery of public goods and services.” For 2012-13, Australia will be investing around AUD15 million in good governance initiatives, including initiatives right here in Bohol.
In his State of the Nation Address last July, President Aquino spoke of the tangible results of the reforms that his administration has pursued. He went as far to say that good governance can and has put food on the table of Filipinos.
Other interested observers have also recognised the overall progress towards good governance in the Philippines. This is reflected in the consistent improvement in the country’s credit ratings and the increasing confidence of the people in their government and leaders as shown through recent national surveys.
The seeds of change and good governance have been planted and have started to bear fruit. These reforms need the support of all Filipinos in order to be sustainable.
I am pleased to see that you, as Australian Alumni, are responding to this challenge and are playing key roles in governance reforms in the Philippines.
The choice of the Province of Bohol as the venue for the convention reflects this. In August this year, the Province was awarded as the ‘Best Governed Province’ by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. (The late Jesse Robredo will be missed in the Philippines for his contribution to our bilateral relations.) This award is in recognition of Bohol’s outstanding performance on administrative, social, economic and environmental governance, and its adherence to the fundamental principles of good governance including transparency, participation and financial accountability. Governor Chatto (in absentia), men and women of Bohol, please accept my congratulations for this great achievement.
I am pleased to note that Australia, through our long history of cooperation with the Province, has supported good governance. Under the Provincial Roads Management Facility and other Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade initiatives, we have supported Bohol to:
- increase locally-generated revenues through the establishment of an automated tax assessment and collection system
- develop human resource and management development plans which provide the basis for investing in people and organisational systems
- establish a more transparent and open tendering process, which encourages participation from the private sector and civil society organisations.
The PA3i Looking Forward
I believe that good governance can also help PA3i to become the premiere alumni association in the Philippines. A well-managed and well-governed PA3i
- will be an agent of social change and development in the Philippines;
- will be self-sustaining; and
- will give prominence to its members and expand its membership, being Australian Universities alumni, as ambassadors of Australian Education in the Philippines.
My Embassy colleagues have told me about your workshop held several weeks ago, in Manila, to reflect on the future of PA3i and Australian Alumni in the Philippines. I am pleased to note that you are devoting part of the Convention in “charting new directions for PA3i and the Australian Alumni Network” in the Philippines. I wish you all the best in the workshop and look forward to hearing more about this in the coming months. I also look forward to hearing the outcome of your elections this weekend, and to working constructively with the new office-holders.
The constant stream of Australian alumni, both scholars and full-fee paying, returning to the Philippines, the increasing number of self-funded Filipinos studying in Australia, and the growing number of Filipinos acquiring Australian qualifications in the Philippines present an opportunity for growth for PA3i.
The Australian Community in the Philippines is also expanding. Your partnership with MultiRational Corporation is an innovative example of how linking with the broader Australian Community in the Philippines can benefit PA3i and its partners.
The strength of an organisation comes from its members and partners. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Pa3i to be proactive about expanding its membership and partners. A more diverse and broader membership base will enable PA3i to effect more meaningful change and development both at the community and at the national level. It would be good for more people to benefit from what PA3i has to offer.
Australian Government Commitment to the Alumni
The Australian Government remains committed to supporting Australian Alumni.
A whole-of-government review of Alumni activities is underway to inform the development of an Australia Awards Alumni Network strategy. This is in recognition of the important role that the alumni play as partner in development, and in promoting Australian Government priorities. The strategy will identify ways by which we can work closer and support better Australian Alumni around the globe.
In the Philippines, we will continue to support alumni activities that
- promote a more meaningful social, intellectual, educational and political understanding between Australia and the Philippines; and
- enhance the reputation, prestige and competitiveness of Australian education.
In my 6 months in the Philippines, I have seen PA3i’s strong focus on activities which promote social development. This is understandable given the issues that you face in your communities and organisations. I am convinced, however, that there is a case for you to take a more active role in strengthening the bilateral relationship and people to people links between Australia and the Philippines. And these areas need not be mutually exclusive.
Let me now end by reiterating my congratulations to all of you for this successful convention. I would also like to give special mention to the Bohol Chapter and Provincial Government of Bohol for leading this event.
My wife Chris and I, along with my colleagues from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, are honoured to have been invited to this event.
I am sure you will all enjoy the activities lined up for the rest of the convention and I wish you all a safe trip back to your home cities and provinces tomorrow.
Thank you and mabuhay.
Speech delivered by Australian Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Bill Tweddell at the PA3i National Convention held at Bohol Tropics Resort, 6 October 2012