A premier mission

March 30, 2016 by Henry Benjamin
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Mike Baird, the Premier of NSW will celebrate his birthday this Friday flying to Israel leading a delegation of business and government leaders.

Fulfilling a promise made early in his premiership now entering its third year Mike Baird will lead the delegation of over 30 on an eight-day  trip focusing on developments in medical cannabis, cybersecurity and medical and financial hi-tech.


Premier Mike Baird studies the program   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Premier Mike Baird studies the program            Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Spending almost a week in Israel, the Premier will also visit the Aida Palestinian refugee camp 2 kms from Bethlehem. He said that the delegation would meet with Palestinians hoping to involve them in collaborative projects in the agricultural sector. Mr Baird will spend a day in the West Bank meeting Palestinian leadership and seeing for himself how Australian aid dollars are working for local communities.

According to available records, this will be the first ever trip to Israel by a Premier of NSW.

Speaking from his Sydney office Premier Mike Baird told J-Wire: “Due to the nature of the visit and its focus on technology and cybersecurity, we will be taking the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane and Commisoner of Police Andrew Scipione.”

When asked about the visit, Premier Baird, whose wife is accompanying him, said that he had never visited Israel adding that the trip “is long overdue”.

“As treasurer of NSW between 2011 an  2014 I was aware of the focus on the innovation space, some of the significant opportunities of taking business-like decisions into investment opportunities.

Israel has been a world leader in the area of medical cannabis. It’s a space in which we are very committed to making a difference. Medical cannabis,  technology and the start-up sector together with cybersecurity are all critical issues for us right now and learning  from the experience of what is already on the ground in Israel is key part of the trip.

He added: “As well as businesses we will be visiting universities and I expect to make a couple of announcements with some of those universities with regard to collaboration across key issues.”

Although the mission is not of a political nature, Premier Baird will meet with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and government ministers. He said: “There is nothing definite but there is a possibility that I may meet the prime minister.”

Speaking of the mission which has been coordinated by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Premier Baird said he was looking forward to “many fantastic meetings and opportunities in in the academic, business and political fields.  NSWJBD President Jeremy Spinak and the AICC’s NSW Chairperson Jillian Segal will accompany Premier Baird.

Premier Mike Baird told J-Wire that he had set at least one day aside for private time. adding” “There’s so many significant historically religious sites. I can’t wait to experience the Wailing Wall and the beauty of the Sea of Galilee  and the place where the sermon on the mount was preached. The religious sites have got such incredible history. I am looking forward to seeing many of them.”

Premier Baird said he was also looking forward to visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem…and the famous Israeli breakfasts.

Surf Life Saving holds a special place in the Premier’s life. He is the patron of the Australian Friends of Surf Life Saving Israel and a patrolling member at Manly.

He told J-Wire: “I will carry out an inspection of over 50 nippers currently going through a collaborative program with Surf Life Saving Australia on a beach near Ashdod. Cultural exchanges build bonds way beyond business. That’s something  where NSW has got expertise in terms of our coast lines  I am very proud to be involved in this.”.

Premier Mike Baird told J-Wire: “The mission provides the opportunity where we can meet the people of Israel. We will visit the sacred sites and I am looking forward to that very much.

We are looking forward to renewing our acquaintance with Israel’s Chief Scientist who visited Sydney not so long ago and to meeting Israel’s Minister for Health and we are also looking forward very much to meeting the mayor of Bethlehem.

This visit is all about collaboration. We have fantastic business research in medtech and fintech . We want to collaborate with the best operators and minds in Israel. We can do so much more together than we can alone. There’s a lot we can learn..not just about the culture and the people but also the opportunity to work together.”

There’s still a waiting list for people who want to come on this delegation and we made it clear we only wanted people who had specific interest or direct opportunities with the sectors we are talking about and businesses we are already engaging with.”

Speaking about the projected results of the mission, Premier Baird told J-Wire: “My hope  is that many of these opportunities for collaboration are formalised and then to follow them up and make them happen. Hopefully there will be a follow up trip by the  Israelis.

Our strong expectation is that is not just a once-off which will disappear but the start of something very significant.

That’s why I was determined to go along. I see the long-term potential.

If we get this right there will be many things to work on together not just over the next few months but for many years to come.”



One Response to “A premier mission”
  1. harry rich says:

    For once I was not apprehensive to open J wire in my computer when I read the news that our Premier plus dignitaries are going to Israel to look, listen and learn and hopefully strengthen any existing ties.

    There will be gnashing op teeth and negative comments in certain quarters but
    I am sure that Mr. Baird expects that and will go nevertheless. May he and his party have a safe trip

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