Australian Senate inquiry into opportunities for strengthening Australia’s relations with the Republic of France #ST22 [fr]
What are the strategic priorities in the areas of multilateral strategic cooperation, and cultural and scientific sharing for the French-Australian relations?
The Australian Senate has conducted an inquiry into opportunities for strengthening Australia’s relations with the Republic of France in the areas of trade, security and defence, multilateral strategic cooperation, and cultural and scientific sharing. The report first recalls that this relationship between our two countries has been very dynamic for several years, with a number of strategic partnership documents in place, defining areas of common interest for bilateral cooperation.
The first chapters of this report are devoted to trade opportunities, strengthening political, defence and security cooperation, and intergovernmental organizations hosted by France.
The report also looks at intergovernmental organizations headquartered in France, such as the OECD or UNESCO, which have an influence on cultural, education and research policies, on environmental risks management, or on new technologies or energy policies. Australia is interested in opportunities to access data about these policies by country, in order to feed its own strategy, but also to promote Australian expertise and perspective.
Finally, the committee’s report examined the history and culture shared by France and Australia, as well as their relations related to tourism, education and research. Artistic and cultural exchange initiatives, as well as tourism, contribute to a better understanding of each other, and many programs encourage these initiatives. Particularly strong ties are forming between the State of South Australia and the Brittany region in the areas related to the submarine program, and many opportunities for collaborations are emerging in the Pacific region around the arts, cultures and social sciences related to aboriginals and kanaks, but also coral reef management, environment or climate.
Franco-Australian collaborations on education and research are supported by the Enhanced Joint Declaration of Strategic Partnership (2017), which fosters exchanges, collaborations and the creation of scientific networks.
The report highlights opportunities to strengthen industry-academy links, with the example of the Nicolas Baudin programme, which has been active for several years, and offers internships in partnership with French research organisations, Australian universities, and an industrial partner, or the CNRS international Research Laboratory CROSSING based in Australia, which sets up joint curricula and collaborations in partnership with Australian universities, and Naval Group. The French model of the CIFRE PhD could also be exported to Australia in order to strengthen these industry-academy links.
The Franco-Australian research relationship is very dynamic, particularly in the fields of energy, health, space, agriculture, and the environment, including marine biodiversity. This relationship is supported by the numerous agreements and MoU between French and Australian research organisations, but also by the FASIC programme, which helps to initiate and strengthen collaborations. Specific Australian funding could be set up to encourage collaboration and exchanges with France, particularly with the French Pacific territories, or with Europe, through the co-financing of European programmes. Joint research structures are also a crucial tool for scientific collaborations. Such structures have been set up in Australia by CNRS and INSERM, and in France by the CSIRO.
The political, defence and security recommendations of the Senate report are focused towards better regional cooperation in both the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean. The economic recommendations state that the dialogue must continue, in particular on the space industry, critical minerals, the mining industry and the energy transition, but also on FinTech. Finally, the recommendations on education and research propose to support student exchanges between France and Australia in areas of common interest, as well as industrial theses in co-supervision with French companies.