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ANZSOG brings senior Cambodia delegation to Australia to learn about cabinet governance

12 June 2024

News and media


ANZSOG has brought a high-level Cambodian Government delegation to Australia to learn more about cabinet governance, following on from a two-day ANZSOG workshop delivered in Phnom Penh.

The nine-person delegation was led by His Excellency Vongsey Vissoth (Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia) and His Excellency Chheang Vanarith (Secretary of State), and the Cambodian Ambassador to Australia His Excellency Cheunboran Chanborey.

They spent time in both Canberra and Melbourne to meet with Australian departments involved in cabinet operations and processes. The visit provided a valuable opportunity for deeper learning and exchange and helped solidify the connections made during the initial workshop.

Australia and Cambodia celebrated 70 years of diplomatic ties in 2022, and have a growing tariff-free trade relationship which provides opportunities for Cambodia’s fast-growing economy.

The visit was a unique collaboration between ANZSOG, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Cambodian Office of the Council of Ministers and Australia Awards Cambodia. It showed ANZSOG’s capacity to use its networks to deliver a high-quality program, and strengthen ties between Australia and countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

H.E Vongsey said that he had come to Australia with the ‘aspiration to learn how we can build strong institutions and systems in Cambodia so our cabinet can work in a more effective way to serve the people better’.

“I have found over the last few days of meetings that Australia has evolved a long way and become very strong institutionally and as a country.”

In Canberra, the delegation met with officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s (DPMC) National Cabinet Secretariat to discuss the Secretariat’s role in supporting National Cabinet operations, as well as with DFAT Deputy Secretary and Australia’s ASEAN senior official Michelle Chan.

In Melbourne they met with senior officials from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) including Cabinet Secretary Steve McGhie, and a range of other senior public servants including: Victorian Ombudsman Marlo Baragwanath, Victorian Public Service Commissioner Brigid Monangle, Eleanor Williams, Managing Director of the federal Department of Treasury’s Australian Centre for Evaluation, and Danielle Wood Chair of the Productivity Commission.

H.E Chheang said that it had been a great honour and pleasure to be part of the program.

“This is the third high-level visit by Cambodian government officials in recent years, and this visit marks another milestone in our bilateral relationship, with the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers. We are a young nation and these young people will be the future of Cambodia,” he said.

“I have a great appreciation for what Australia and New Zealand have achieved in terms of human resource development and capacity building.

“Australia is one of our most important partners, from the significant contributions to our journey towards peace, stability, and development, to the economic partnership that has benefited both our nations. Most recently, Australia’s support for Cambodia in the face of COVID-19, including the provision of medical supplies and assistance as well as the launch of the Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Resilient Economic Development (CAPRED), once again demonstrated the strength of our partnership and solidarity in times of adversity.

“At the regional level, Cambodia and Australia share the same strategic vision for a peaceful, stable and propersious Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific. Cambodia values Australia’s contribution to the ASEAN Community building as the first dialogue partner and its support for ASEAN Centrality has been crucial for the promotion of a rules-based regional order in this part of the world.”

The delegation also visited ANZSOG’s Melbourne Headquarters and met with ANZSOG Dean and CEO, Professor Caron Beaton-Wells.

The program provided an overview of the Australian cabinet system’s structure and processes and the range of public sector organisations that exist to support it. It gave the delegation a chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the system with senior public servants and build links between the two governments.

Professor Beaton-Wells said that ANZSOG was committed to supporting Cambodia’s ongoing journey towards public sector excellence.

“A well-functioning cabinet system is the cornerstone of effective governance. It plays a crucial role in driving policy development, ensuring coordinated implementation, and maintaining accountability to the public,” she said.

“Our recent workshop in Phnom Penh, delivered by Professor Catherine Althaus, entitled “Australia’s Cabinet System: Lessons, Experiences, and Opportunities for Cambodia,” was a testament to our commitment to knowledge sharing and capacity building.”

“We hope this could be a long-term partnership, one in which we can share our knowledge, resources, and networks to help you build a more effective, efficient, and responsive government.”

ANZSOG extends its thanks to the Cambodian Office of the Council of Ministers, DFAT and Australia Awards Cambodia, and to Program Director Ruth Stewart (former Deputy Ambassador to Cambodia) for their role in making the visit a success. VPSC Commissioner Mongale, and Deputy Commissioner Ella McPherson are both ANZSOG alumni, as are others in the agencies involved, and the ANZSOG alumni network has contributed significantly to facilitating these exchange opportunities.