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The group of Ambassadors and one High Commissioner to Australia spent two days in Adelaide, 28 February to March 1, to learn more about the state and its key industries including defence, education, culture, research and innovation.
They met with Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham in his hometown to discuss the EU-Australia FTA negotiations and Labor's Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong to learn more about the party's foreign policy priories.
Australia's defense state, South Australia has projects worth $90+ billion. The delegation learned more about the largest acquisition in Australian history – France's Naval Group's $50 billion project by to deliver 12 attack-class submarines.
South Australia is also set to become the 'Space State' home to the Australian Space Agency. Director of the South Australian Space Industry Centre Nicola Sasanelli shared more about Australia's ambitions in this 'space'.
There was an early morning start with art at a breakfast briefing with South Australian Premier Steven Marshall at the Art Gallery of South Australia. They took a tour of its impressive collection – 45,000 works and counting. And lunched with the South Australian Governor Hieu Van Le and Mrs Le at Government House.
The State's chief scientist Prof Caroline McMillen and chief entrepreneur Jim Whalley shared insights on the medical and innovation sectors. The group also visited Europe's flagship life sciences lab – EMBL, as an associate member, Australia joins the network of research teams around the world.
There was an education roundtable hosted by SA Minister for Education John Gardner and a panel discussion ‘Developing Closers Ties: EU Member State Perspectives on EU-Australia Relations’ presented by the Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the University of South Australia. Heads of Mission for the EU, Cyprus, Germany, Austria and Croatia spoke at the event.
Earlier that week, it was unveiled that a similar EU-funded $1 million research centre will be set up in the State at the University of Adelaide.
The two-day action packed mission down south concluded with culture – with a visit to the Adelaide Festival to experience the state's vibrant arts and cultural scene and the Superloop Adelaide 500. First held in 1999, the Adelaide 500 is Australia’s largest domestic motorsport event and widely regarded as one of the world’s best touring car races.
POLITICO's Playbook caught up with Ambassador Michael Pulch during the visit to to 'the EU hub' of Adelaide. They spoke about:
Defence: France's Naval Group’s submarine project which will see 3,000 jobs created in the Adelaide.
Copernicus: Geoscience Australia sought help from the EU’s Copernicus satellite system to provide rapid maps for emergency response crews working on the ground during the recent Townsville floods.
Trade: The upcoming round of FTA discussions kicking off 25 March in Canberra.
Brexit: Australia’s historic links with Britain and the increasingly important EU-Australia relationship.
READ MORE: politi.co/2Hfnuyq