I was struck by the beauty of the country and the determination of its people. Some of my ancestors sailed from Scotland to be missionaries in the Pacific, and I can see why they thought they had arrived in the Garden of Eden.

I met Fadila on a field visit with the World Food Programme (WFP) to an informal settlement in Akkar Lebanon, a stone’s throw from Syria, divided only by a small mountain range.

DFAT has been on quite a journey over the past 20 years. We now have a growing cadre of highly skilled and motivated Indigenous officers who are advancing Australia’s national interests at home and abroad.

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu on how it can be very busy and challenging being an Ambassador. But it is always rewarding.

With huge smiles, the business people I met shared exciting plans for attracting inward investment and driving local exports into new markets. I had come to talk about the importance of expanding trade with South East Asia but they were ahead of me and had so much to share.

A White Paper may sound bureaucratic and complicated but getting it right can make a real difference to Australia’s security and prosperity.

We do right now have an extraordinarily challenging role in mapping out the ‘known’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ confronting Australia’s national and international interests. Harder than anything else I can remember in my time in the job.