Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam
Australia enjoys a warm and longstanding relationship with Brunei Darussalam, focused on defence and security cooperation, economic partnerships and education links.
Our strong defence relationship is built on mutual respect and trust, dating back to Australia's participation in the Liberation of Borneo in 1945. Since the signing of our first Defence Memorandum of Understanding in 1985, Australia and Brunei have undertaken numerous bilateral military exercises, policy dialogues, training and capacity building exchanges. With Resident Defence Advisors now stationed in both countries, we are well placed to further deepen defence cooperation – particularly in defence education, information exchanges and joint exercises.
Like Australia, Brunei Darussalam is committed to open, rules-based markets, including through participation in key regional trade agreements. In 2019-20, two-way trade was valued at $1.5 billion.
Australia is an increasingly popular study destination with over 12,000 Bruneians educated in Australia. I look forward to encouraging more Bruneians to pursue educational opportunities in Australia and to supporting a range of initiatives to deepen our people-to-people links and cross-cultural understanding, including the New Colombo Plan (which supports Australians to study in Brunei) and the Australia-ASEAN Muslim Exchange Program (which builds links between young Muslim leaders in Brunei and their peers among Australia's 600,000-strong Muslim community).
The diverse and dynamic community of Australians in Brunei is another asset for our bilateral relationship, and I look forward to ensuring their High Commission continues to engage and support them.
The region in which Brunei and Australia are located — the Indo-Pacific — is changing extremely rapidly. These changes are multi-faceted, including technological (the rise of artificial intelligence), demographic (ageing populations), geopolitical (great power competition) and environmental (global warming) dynamics.
One of my top priorities as High Commissioner will be to facilitate partnerships between Brunei and Australia to help our countries seize the opportunities and manage the challenges that these changes entail, including through promoting open and rules-based trade, international law, and respect for the sovereignty of all countries — no matter what their size.
During my tenure here, I will continue to listen to the ideas of Bruneian leaders from government, business, academia and civil society on ways we can build resilience amid change, and how our countries can best cooperate for a peaceful, open and prosperous future.
Unless tectonic plates start unexpectedly shifting, Brunei and Australia are going to neighbours for a very long time. Our rapidly changing neighbourhood means that now is the time to take our already positive relations to the next level. I very much look forward to facilitating that.
His Excellency Luke Arnold is a career diplomat and was most recently Australian Deputy Ambassador to Phnom Penh. He has also served overseas as First Secretary in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Prior to joining the Australian Public Service, Mr Arnold worked for the United Nations and Minter Ellison Lawyers.
Mr Arnold speaks Bahasa Indonesia and is learning Bahasa Melayu Brunei. He holds a Master of Laws from the University of London; a Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice and Ethics from Monash University; and a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Melbourne.
Mr Arnold is joined in Brunei by his wife, Leliana, and their two sons, Theo and Yosef. As a family, their hobbies include hiking, swimming, boardgames and eating out.