Mike Baird has become the first serving NSW Premier to visit Israel, wrapping up a trade mission focused on medicinal cannabis, cyber security and innovation.
Mr Baird led a trade delegation, including NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, NSW Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane and medical cannabis advocate Lucy Haslam, to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
"I want to make NSW the 'startup state', and this week we have helped this goal by engaging and establishing formal partnerships between our businesses, universities, researchers, and their counterparts in Israel," Mr Baird said.
"Israel is one of the world's most innovative economies, and by creating a new corridor between Israel and ourselves -- on issues such as cyber security, financial and medical technologies, and innovation -- we can increase NSW's competitiveness in the future digital economy.
"It was also a privilege to visit the West Bank and hear from Palestinians themselves, as well as from officials of the UNWRA, about the challenges they face on a daily basis."
Mr Baird was invited to the home of President Reuven Rivlin, where they discussed the strength of the NSW-Israel relationship and a willingness to increase cooperation into the future.
The NSW Government is eager to learn from Israel’s experiences as a start-up nation, and Mr Baird signed a new agreement with Israel’s Chief Scientist Mr Avi Hasson in Tel Aviv.
The Agreement on Bilateral Co-operation in R&D and Technical Innovation commits NSW and Israel to invest $2m into co-operative startup and innovation projects – particularly those focused on cybersecurity, agribusiness and water management.
NSW's exploration of the use of medicinal cannabis for sufferers of chronic pain and the terminally ill was discussed, and formal collaboration established, in Mr Baird’s meetings with Health Minister, Mr Yaakov Litzman, and world-leading researcher, Professor Raphael Mechoulam, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Mr Baird also announced the NSW Government would contribute $2.5m toward the construction of a new facility at Dubbo that will house a brand new flight simulator purchased in Israel by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
A new partnership between Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science will pave the way for Australia’s first cellular genomic research facility.
The Centre for Genomics will be based at the Garvan Institute in Darlinghurst after Mr Baird announced the Government would provide $5m toward its establishment.
While on the West Bank, Mr Baird met with Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr Riad Malki and paid a visit to the UNRWA Aida refugee camp to see first-hand how Australian aid was making a difference to the lives of refugees on the West Bank.