|Minister||The Hon Daniel Andrews MP|
|Portfolio||Premier of Victoria|
|Countries visited||Israel and Greece|
|Date of travel||5 to 10 December 2017|
|No of official travel days (including date of departure and date of return)||6|
|Accompanying ministerial staff|
Hon Marsha Thomson MP, Special Adviser to the Premier of Victoria
|Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity||No|
|Funding source||Premier's Private Office and the Department of Premier and Cabinet|
|Airfares (including taxes and fees)||$57,348.43|
|Accommodation (including taxes and fees)||$12,950.09|
|Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)||$20,696.32|
|Travel cost for minister and staff||$90,994.84|
|Are the above costs final and complete?||No|
Purpose of travel
From 5 to 10 December 2017, I travelled to Israel and Greece to further Victoria’s strategic objectives through high level government meetings and engagements, to drive trade and investment outcomes, and to promote Victoria’s expertise in medical technology and the creative industries.
Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria
Benefits of the trip to Victoria include:
- strengthening relationships with key Israeli and Greek government officials
- promoting Victoria’s commitment to Israel through a partnership with the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce (IACC) and through opening the new Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in Tel Aviv
- promoting Victoria’s expertise in medical research and technology through the Biomedical Innovation and Commercialisation Exchange
- promoting Victoria as a trusted partner for trade, investment and cooperation in priority areas, including medical research and technology and innovation
- announcing the exchange of photographic exhibitions between the Benaki Museum and Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum in 2018
- strengthening cultural understanding and connection to the Israeli, Jewish and Greek populations in Victoria.
Government to Government relationships
This trip provided the opportunity to meet with key Government officials, strengthening our connection with national level partners including:
- The Prime Minister of Israel, HE Benjamin Netanyahu
- Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Yuval Rotem
- The Prime Minister of Greece, HE Alexis Tsipras
- The President of Greece, HE Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Trade and investment
On this trip I promoted Victoria as a trusted trade and investment partner committed to our relationship with Israel.
I announced increased engagement with Israel including:
- The establishment and opening the VGTI office in Tel Aviv, to grow Victoria’s extensive Trade and Investment network.
- The partnership with the IACC to deliver in-market and on the ground support in Israel for two years.
- A dedicated Israel Desk at the DEDJTR office in Melbourne to support the IACC service delivery.
- Increased regular travel to Israel by the Victorian Commissioner to Europe and Israel
- These initiatives will connect Israeli and Victorian businesses, investors and organisations, build relationships with in-market stakeholders, and promote Victoria as a globally competitive trade and investment destination.
To support these initiatives, and to promote trade and investment outcomes, I also met with the Chairman of the IACC, Major General (Ret.) Ido Nehushtan and hosted an event with the IACC to meet with key Israeli business leaders and influencers.
Medical research and technology
The trip provided the opportunity to promote Victoria’s expertise in medical research and technology. At an event at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, I announced the Biomedical Innovation and Commercialisation Exchange.
This initiative is a strategic approach to support strengthened collaboration on biomedical research and innovation and to leverage Israel’s unique commercialisation expertise. The initiative will be supported by the appointment of a Biomedical Director based in the new VGTI and a Liaison Officer based in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.
As part of this initiative, the Victorian Government also announced support for two key partnerships between Victoria and Israel including:
- Baker Institute and Sheba Medical Center’s collaboration seeking to protect against heart arrhythmias; and
- Florey Institute and Hadassah Medical Center’s collaboration on schizophrenia.
This trip also provided the opportunity to re-engage on our existing collaboration with Israel in science and innovation, including through the Victoria-Israel Science Innovation and Technology Scheme (VISITS). This program will continue to supports Victorian companies to travel to Israel for business, as well as bilateral research collaborations and proof of concept projects.
Cultural and people to people ties
Victoria is home to Australia’s largest Israel-born, Jewish and Greek communities.The trip provided the opportunity to acknowledge and strengthen the deep cultural ties between Victoria and Israel and Victoria and Greece through a number of engagements, including:
- Visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Centre to pay respects to those who died in the Holocaust and to those who protected and saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.
- Contributing to the development of the ‘Walk with a Survivor’ Virtual Reality testimonies program between Yad Vashem and the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne
- Visiting the Jerusalem War Memorial Cemetery to lay a wreath from the people of Victoria to commemorate the Commonwealth servicemen and servicewomen who died during the First and Second World Wars.
- Visiting the Western Wall to pay respects and strengthen understanding and connection to the Israeli population in Victoria.
- Hosting a cultural lunch to celebrate Victoria-Greece relations.
- Signing a Greek education Memorandum of Understanding with the Deputy Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs to contribute to the provision of quality Greek language programs in Victorian schools.
- Launching the Victorian Government’s international education social media campaign to attract Greek students.
- Announcing the exchange between the Benaki Museum and the Hellenic Museum in Victoria, namely:
- Supporting the creation of an original piece by one of the world’s foremost hyperrealist sculptors, Sam Jinks, inspired by elements of the Parthenon sculptures
- Sending Victoria’s Hellenic Museum Bill Henson ONEIROI collection to the Benaki Museum in 2018
- Receiving the Benaki Museum’s collection of Greek photographer Ms Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari work to the Hellenic Museum.
- Visiting the Phaleron War Cemetery to commemorate the fallen Australian soldiers from the Second World War
- Announcing the Victorian Government’s support for the Premier’s Spirit of ANZAC Prize, initiatives in Lemnos and PRONIA funding.
- Supporting the publication of a book on the history of Lemnos during WW1
- Supporting the sending of the Hellenic Presidential Guards to Melbourne
- Touring the Acropolis of Athens
My visit to Israel reaffirmed the significant opportunities for continued collaboration and partnership with Israel. The Victorian Government and newly established VGTI will work with the Victorian and Israeli business sector to promote Victoria, build relationships and explore opportunities for trade and investment. Victoria will also host a number of key Israeli stakeholders to facilitate collaboration.
In Greece I was able to ensure the continued development of our deep and long-standing cultural connection with Greece. We will continue to work across government to progress and implement the announcements made on the trip, including the Greek language education program, Benaki Museum exchange, and supporting war commemoration initiatives in Lemnos and with the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac anniversary tour.
Reviewed 28 January 2019