…for a number of reasons, says former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia

Does Bhutan Matter? “Yes, it does”, says Tim Fischer, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia (1996-1999) in his keynote address to “Bhutan Update 2016” conference jointly organised by the Bhutanese scholars and students in Canberra and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government on March 9.

“It matters for a number of reasons.”

“Firstly, it has the only capital city in the world with no McDonald’s as a benchmark against everything else that is happening in this difficult world… It is a joy that the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, has zero McDonald’s outlet. Keep it that way.”

“Second, it is a small nation state with no problems confronting the UN, no peacekeepers needed and the like. That matters because we need our small nation states to be a part of the fabric of purposefulness in this troubled world…”

“Thirdly, it is Bhutan the Himalayan kingdom that pushes forward ideas to the world, including GNH which we have heard about today, which steps in the right direction to help bring about harmonization in this troubled world.”

“Finally, and very specifically, it is a pebble between the two giants.”

Tim Fischer is a close friend of Bhutan, known among the Bhutanese for “From Jesuits to Jetsetters – Bold Bhutan Beckons – Inhaling Gross National Happiness” which he co-authored with Tshering Tashi.

The Bhutan Update 2016 conference, which was held at the Australian National University, is the first of its kind to be organized in Australia with the purpose of providing a platform for strengthening Australia – Bhutan relationship through an academic setting.

In the long-term, it is anticipated that the Update will provide the basis for an annual country update to keep abreast of topical issues those are of mutual interests to Bhutan and Australia.

Contributed by Dorji Tshering