About this Interview
Our guest is Mark Leibler AC - one of Australia's pre-eminent businessman, whose legal nous, corporate acumen and political skills have been relied upon by generations of this Nation's most influential and successful businesses, entrepreneurs and Prime Ministers.
Mark Leibler AC, The Interview Transcript
*Please note, this transcript was auto-generated and some inaccuracies may exist.
Mark Leibler AC 01:10
This generation has been very fortunate, my generation, those who grew up here in Australia, where I was born, it's a beautiful country, wonderful standard of living, a great place to live. And yet, you look around you and you see, there is one part of the society which lives in conditions which are worse than you would find in a third world country. And that's our first Australians.
So one of the things that you know have motivated me is seeing first Australians in such difficult conditions, we need to do something about it. Because it's really a blot on our society, it's a blot on this wonderful country. We started off by murdering them, then we thought of kill them with good wishes, with kindness. And then finally, we sort of came to the realisation that we have to work together with them in order to improve their lot in life. And unfortunately, that's not something that I our bureaucracy finds that very easy to deal with order to come to grips with. So that's been one of the things that is sort of motivated a lot of the work that I've been doing.
The other has been, I'm obviously, Jewish, well known 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust some decades ago, we live very much today, as far as Jewish people are concerned, In a golden age, you've got a strong State of Israel, you've got prospering and well functioning Jewish communities, at least throughout the Western world. So that's been another area of activity. As far as I'm concerned, I've been very involved in a variety of Jewish community and international Jewish leaders, leadership positions. So these have been the things that have motivated me, of course, the thing that's motivated me more than anything else, is my family, my children, ultimately, you know, as the generations go by, what do you leave behind? You leave behind your descendants.
Rob Langton 03:40
Upon reflection of all that you've achieved, what would you classify as both your proudest achievements and your most challenging experiences?
Mark Leibler AC 03:48
I've been involved in many things over a lifetime. And it's very difficult to articulate. You know, the one thing that stands out, but I think probably in in relation to my Jewish activities, the success we had in getting the Australian Parliament to pass a resolution calling for the rescission of the United Nations resolution, which define Zionism as a form of racism, which I regard regarded as an outrageous piece of anti semitism calling for its rescission, which ultimately was adopted.
This was a 1986 in 1987. This same resolution was called the Australian resolution was adopted by the United States Congress. And then ultimately, the racist resolution was rescinded by the United Nations in 1991. I felt that was terribly important and worthwhile on the indigenous side of my work. I also felt that somehow rather than bringing us to the point that after all, I was co chair of the referendum Council, bringing us to the point of the Uluru statement was very important.
It was the most comprehensive set of dialogues and consultations that indigenous people had ever held and it was designed by indigenous people, and it was culturally appropriate for indigenous people. And at the end of the day, when it, particularly when it came to constitutional recognition, they were looking to a voice to the parliament. Now, we know that there's been some difficulties on the political side in getting this thing through. But I believe it will happen, the conditions are going to be right. And it will take a little bit of time.
But ultimately, we'll have a constitutionally enshrined voice to the parliament. I mean, in my view, is that this is easily doable. As long as you know, the the politicians can get together and support this in the way that it should be supported. It'll carry without much difficulty at all, at a referendum. And I'm confident than the course of time this will happen.
The other area where I feel that, you know, something worthwhile has been achieved. We're very much a multicultural society. Lots of Australian citizens came out here originally as refugees, they escaped from other countries. They came here after the Second World War, many of them had been through the Holocaust had been lost family members, they can't came here with a distrust for governments. And for political leaders. They wanted to make a new life for themselves over here.
But they were also determined to leave a nest egg behind in case something happened. Again, what I managed to do together with the tax office from I think it was seven years ago now, under the banner of what was called then project 'Do It'. We managed to allow people who had been caught in this sort of bind, to bring back what amounted to billions of dollars back into the Australian economy, to avoid prosecution, to pay a number of years tax but to avoid penalties.
And it worked out I think very well, both from the point of view of the revenue, and also, from the point of view of those who had in most, in many cases had money, which had been hidden overseas, and they were looking for a way to bring it back safely. So I you know, achieving that I think was was very worthwhile.
Rob Langton 08:21
Now, as an influential figure at the forefront of business and political affairs for such a sustained period of time. How much has Australia as a nation matured since your childhood, do you think and how do you believe this country is perceived on a global scale nowadays?
Mark Leibler AC 08:37
Well, we've certainly matured, when I was finishing school, we still had the white Australia policy. I mean, he It was a policy of racial discrimination. We've come a long way. Since then, we've had more immigrants would become much more multicultural. And so in that sense, we have certainly progressed, but we still got a long way to go.
I think those who suffer from more racism than any other group or our indigenous people, even as we speak today, the Scanlon foundation handed down its report which demonstrated that racism was on the rise, racism, anti semitism, all of these sorts of things. I think, you know, developments in the United States of America have contributed somewhat towards this, and I think we've got to work very hard to put a lid on all forms of racism, including anti semitism. There's been a rise in anti semitism as anti semitism as well.
In recent months, we've got a way to go but we're a far better society than we were back in t he early days.
Rob Langton 10:03
Throughout your life you've met engage with and advise myriad captains of industry, heads of government and powerful world leaders, including Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, and Benjamin Netanyahu is this photos of here. Take us through your experiences and relationships with some of the most impressive people that you've met.
Mark Leibler AC 10:21
On the Australian side. Certainly I've I've had a relationship with every single Prime Minister from and including Malcolm Fraser. And it's interesting with with some of the leaders, their public persona is very different to the people that they really are, when you get to know them sort of private, privately and out of the limelight of the public. I mean, if you take someone like Paul Keating, he was, in many respects, quite a humble guy, a very, very loyal to his friends, and a very gentle guy, which is quite interesting, which is exactly the opposite.
From the impression you get if you just watch some of the parliamentary debates, the difficulties going back 30 years ago to the bottom of the harbour, and all of the fallout from that, I work quite closely with him and with the tax Commissioner at the time, to sort out some of the issues which would have created huge amount of difficulties for those who had disposed of companies.
And where the issue wasn't simply just paying the tax that had been avoided or evaded, depending on the circumstances, but it was releasing all the reserves in the company, so that they would be a huge amount of tax payable, which bore no relationship to the tax that was avoided. We found solutions to these problems. And he worked behind the scenes bookkeeping to achieve sort of sensible results.
For me, it was a pleasure to work with john Howard. He was a remarkable Prime Minister, what one of the things that I really admired, and and admired continue to admire about john Howard is it didn't matter how much you disagreed with him, it didn't matter. If you're on the other side of the fence. He always treated you with dignity. And with respect, it was quite, it was quite interesting and no, john Howard has been criticised in relation to some of these attitudes in relation to indigenous issues. But he provided when I was co chair of reconciliation Australia, he provided a big government grant to that organisation in order to enable it to continue to operate.
When you look at Paul Keating and John Howard. Paul Keating introduced some remarkable tax reforms, the capital gains tax, the GST fringe benefits tax imputation system. And John Howard, in turn, also was responsible for a reform which had not been introduced, would leave us in deep trouble at the moment. And that's, of course, the GST. So each of those two prime ministers are responsible for introducing some critical reforms, which are instrumental in terms of securing the welfare of our society.
And then, of course, I was a great admirer of Julia Gillard who I felt was treated in a way that no other Prime Minister has been, had been treated. And I found that very, very hurtful. I think she will go down in history is in in having some incredibly important achievements. To her credit. I mean, the mere fact of the, you know, the Royal Commission into child abuse, this is just one of the most in terms of its implications and consequences is one of the most important initiatives that this country has ever undertaken, and the credit goes to her.
So that's just a few of the the Australian Prime Minister's I could tell you stories and In relation to all of them, but as far as Israel is concerned, look, I've known the current prime minister, since I think I met him first in 1986, when he was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. He's been a remarkable Prime Minister. You could spend hours just recounting all these achievements.
There's going to be an election taking place in Israel. Shortly, I don't know whether he'll be successful or not. There are many who legitimately feel I think that someone who's under indictment for criminal offences ought not to be leading the country's Prime Minister, because it's too distracting. So what is going to be the outcome of this? I don't know and in Israel's electoral system it's anyones guess. I also was you know, every time I went to Israel I saw the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin I'm a great admirer of his.
On the one hand there are many who point to the Oslo Accords and say they didn't bring about peace, they brought about increased terrorism but on the other hand the outcome of the Oslo Accords has demonstrated that those who say who talk about occupied territories are talking nonsense because Gaza is controlled and occupied by Hamas and the Palestinian authority controls the lives of almost all the Palestinian residents who live in the territories there.
Obviously until they demonstrate that they're interested in peace there isn't going to be peace. I personally am strongly in favour of the idea of the two state solution because I think that's the only way Israel can retain its democratic and Jewish nature, but survival is a paramount importance and if the Westbank were to turn into another Gaza, then you know, this would create an impossible situation so I believe one day there will be peace but all sides have got to be ready for that to take place.
But you know, one of the things you've got to hand Netanyahu credit for is you know the peace agreements that Israel has now entered into recently with a whole host of Arab countries this is a real achievement and also demonstrates the fact that not all Arab countries are going to sit around and wait forever for the Palestinians to decide that they'd like to have peace.
Rob Langton 18:17
Now, in terms of family history. The Leibler family settled in Melbourne from Antwerp in 1939 and four years later in 1943, Mark Leibler was born. Take us through your most vivid childhood memories here in Australia.
Mark Leibler AC 18:32
I was brought up in a fairly sheltered way. House was a traditional Jewish household observant household. I went to a Jewish day school and it was only thereafter when I went to university when I embarked upon legal practice, I gained a better understanding of society as a whole, so it was a fairly sheltered life. I didn't experience anything at all, much that I can recollect in the way of anti semitism or racism.
I had a very happy upbringing, look at one of the things that that did have an impact on me. And I still have great difficulty in describing what the impact was, but um, because I'm not sure. But you know, my father died very suddenly when I was only 14 years old, and obviously that had an impact. But that was, you know, my early life was, was a very happy life I loved Look, I, I hated school. The whole idea of discipline was anathema to me. I didn't like being told what to do, or when to do it. And that's why when I got to university, I really did enjoy it. I handled myself the way that I wanted to. I enjoyed the freedom and I found it was a, it was, was great. And then of course, from Melbourne University, I went off to Yale, I had a scholarship there. And that was, you know, at the time. Look, nowadays, Melbourne University Law School is up in the top eight law schools in the world.
And there are many universities here now. But when I went to university, Melbourne University was the only university that had a law school. And it was very different to the way that it is to what it is today. The classes were, there were about 150 in each class, if two or three students put up their hands, you'd be lucky. It was just very much a different ballgame.
Whereas, you know, you go to a university like Yale, it was the what I say that the creme de la creme I mean, in the graduate school, there were only 30 students 15 from the United States. 15 from the rest of the world, and pretty much each year, they took one from Australia. And in my year. That was me. They had the best teachers in the world. And the classes were small, about 30 odd in a class where classes together with the the undergraduates as well, but everyone was articulate. Everyone participated. Everyone seemed to be bright and intelligent. It was just a wonderful learning experience. And I found that taught you a lot about how to think.
Rob Langton 22:02
And what was it like living in the States?
Mark Leibler AC 22:04
Oh, boy living in the States at that time. Now, just to remind you, I'm talking around 1968 67, 68. It was a time of complete turmoil. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Whilst we were there, America was trying to extract itself from the Vietnam War, I still remember on the television set, Lyndon Johnson announcing that he won't run again. for president, there were riots, even in New Haven, which is, you know, it's about an hour and a bit drive from New York. But there were riots there.
And I remember, my wife was out in a department store, and for ours was just locked in, couldn't get out during these riots. As we left New York, literally, as we departed. And I think we arrived in what was that? I think it was Spain on our way home. Robert Kennedy was assassinated. I mean, he, it was a fascinating, we were very conscious because of where we were, of international developments. So it was it was quite an experience from a whole range of points of view.
Rob Langton 23:38
Now, despite a stint at law firm Arnold Bloch & Associates prior to Yale in 1968, you accepted an offer to rejoin the firm following your studies. Talk to us about the impact Arnold Bloch had on your early career in terms of how to deal with clients, his professionalism, and the leadership he provided to you.
Mark Leibler AC 23:57
He was a remarkable lawyer, absolutely brilliant, had a very, very sharp mind. He taught me the importance of client service. Ever every time nowadays, when I meet with partners, when I meet with each group of seasonal Clark's, the one thing I explained to them is, there is nothing that's more important to return a client's call on the same day. And if you can't return it, on the same day, get your pa to ring the client up and to say that I'm busy, I'm in court, whatever it is, and I'll return it the next day.
Because you know, at the end of the day, you may negotiate a very good contract, or a merger, or whatever it happens to be for your client. But unless there's a dispute about it later. No one's really going to know whether you did a great job or whether you messed it up, since the sorts of disputes overall happen pretty rarely. What the client will really remember about you is how attentive were you, you towards him? How much did you care. And if you couldn't be bothered picking up the phone to return a phone call, doesn't matter how good your contract is, he's going to be looking for a lawyer.
Rob Langton 25:37
Four years later, in 1969, you're made a partner of the firm and owned a 25% stake in the business, walk us through the evolution of ABL throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Mark Leibler AC 25:49
Look, when I came there, fundamentally, there was Arnold Bloch, there was myself and then we had another lawyer who we brought in to do the litigation. And apart from us, there were still 30 people in the law firm, we had a whole series of conveyancing clerks, who did all the property work, you wouldn't be able to have conveyancing clerks nowadays who are not legally qualified, involved to the same extent as you could in those days. But that's how we operate it was very, very profitable law firm, Arnold Bloch did the bulk of it in terms of tax work, mergers and acquisitions, we had the first and most and the best. And even today, I would think most modern deed of discretionary trust that exists in the legal profession nowadays, but they were early days other people really didn't know too much about it.
It's quite different. Nowadays, we now have, you know, large practices in terms of ACCC, in terms of corporate and public company work out property department has become far more sophisticated. Our litigation has really, at litigation was in an adjunct to the practice. Now it has the reputation of being a leading part of the practice and one of the leading litigation practices in Australia.
So we have grown, but our culture has remained pretty much the same. One of the things that we do is and we train our lawyers to do they need to think out of left field, they need to be creative. They need to find solutions to problems. And that's part of what we are today. And I believe why we've been as successful as we have
Rob Langton 27:59
Reflecting on your legal career in general, what are some of the cases you worked on that you remember most fondly?
Mark Leibler AC 28:05
Actually, you know, it's interesting, the one case that I remember with the greatest of fondness, and it's not it's not a tax case, but returning the copyright. In that, in those iconic Albert Namatjira paintings. I mean, one of the most well known of our indigenous painters, back to the family and extracting it from the party that it had been sold for a mere pittance by the Northern Territory. Governments trustee at the time, that that to me was fantastic. And now all those paintings were available for the public to see the public to buy. And to deal with I thought that was of major, major significance.
Rob Langton 29:04
It's been reported that around one and four or one and five, depending on which paper you read, of the 200 wealthiest families in Australia are clients of ABL, I won't name them. But what do you think it is that keeps many of these wealthy families and high net worth clients coming back to ABL year after year? You mentioned client service, but what else do you think.
Mark Leibler AC 29:26
Trust. Trust is very important, and trust in judgement. If you're advising one of the large corporate listed corporations, and we do do a lot of their important high level work. Not the commoditized stuff. They'll basically come to you and they want your advice. Right, and you'll give them their advice. And then now think about that. Now decide On the basis of that advice, how to deal with a particular situation, most of high wealth, individuals, which large businesses are totally different from that, they'll also want your advice.
But you know, at the end of the day, they'll turn around, they'll look at me now say, thank you very much for that advice. Now, what do I do? So what they're looking for, is not only your advice, and you can't be in the legal business, if you're not giving an accurate advice, but they'll be looking to you for your judgement. And in order for them to take their judgement on board, they'll need to trust you. And if they're going to trust you, they've got to have a relationship trust doesn't arrive in an instant it needs to be generated, it needs to be developed, one of the things that we do we get to know our clients, we almost sort of live with them in, in a sense of the term. And that's one of the reasons why, for example, I might have two clients with pretty much the same problem that they're looking at. And I'll give each of them a totally different piece of advice as to how they should handle it. Because maybe one of them is very anxious about things like two likes to sleep soundly at night, doesn't want to get involved in a brawl with a regulatory authority. And another one he would enjoy as long as these prospects are good, yes, they will enjoy a good bro, and they'll thrive on it.
Right. So this is the importance. In other words, when you're dealing with the law, and you're dealing with clients, you're not dealing simply with words in a statute, what you're dealing with, is human beings. And they're all different. And you got to understand also how to deal with the human beings that are located in different regulatory authorities like the tax office, I think, the ACCC, you've got to know who to deal with, at what level to deal with them, how to get the best results for your clients.
And it's a great deal more than knowing the law in terms of knowing the what the statutes and understanding what the rules and regulations are. Because inherently, a lot of law This applies particularly in the tax area is uncertain. And if it's uncertain, it means that although there's no discretion, built into the relevant legislation, there will be in practice a great deal of discretion in terms of how that legislation is applied in practice.
Rob Langton 33:00
Aside from your roles at ABL, you've also had a number of significant appointments across the corporate sector, including as a director of Coles Myer limited for around 15 years. And also as a board member of Portland house group. Reflecting on some of the roles you've held, what are the most inspiring or most difficult situations you're faced?
Mark Leibler AC 33:20
Look, I must confess that I've developed some real issues about the capacity of a director to do anything worthwhile. As a director of a large public Corporation, your ability to influence events is limited. There are issues in terms of regulating the flow of information from management, to the board. And this is something that I noticed, particularly during my time at Cosmo, and frankly, it put me off public company appointments.
On the other hand, you know, you take a nonprofit company like reconciliation of Australia, reconciliation, Australia, I found that to be incredibly fulfilling. I, you know, I felt that we really managed to do some great things. For example, Reconciliation Action Plans, which most of the major corporations and the not so major corporations have adopted nowadays, which have made a huge difference in terms of advancing reconciliation with our first Australians. That is something that you know, as a board we were responsible for, and every single one of the board members played a role in In making sure that, you know, initiatives like that got up, as I said, it may be a little different if you happen to be the chairman of a large public company.
And the other thing is, you end up by getting exposed, I wouldn't be too worried about the actual liabilities. But you know, probably company directors get exposed to huge reputational risks. Now, you only have to read the newspapers last couple of years to understand what I'm talking about. So I prefer to focus, I'm focused on getting involved in areas where I feel that I can add value, not just for the sake of sitting.
Rob Langton 35:52
I think if you'd look at AICD company research and as you said, the newspaper reporter seems to be sort of a corporate merry go round of the same company directors on the same boards each year. Do you think that's to the detriment of many potentially say, successful private people that would be great to go into the public sector? That just don't want to do it?
Mark Leibler AC 36:14
The short answer then is Yes, absolutely. I've got absolutely no doubt about it.
Rob Langton 36:20
Throughout your career, you've negotiated countless disputes, business deals and transfers of power. In your experience, what are the fundamentals to negotiation and deal making? And you mentioned trust earlier, what else do you think is critical?
Mark Leibler AC 36:35
Ask for something that is reasonable in terms of the other party, being reasonably able to agree with it, otherwise, you're wasting your time. But the most important thing is put yourself in the other person's shoes. That is, and it's amazing. The number of situations that I've seen, where people don't do that, and don't understand the importance of doing it.
I think I've managed to successfully negotiate in quite a few agreements and settlements with the between my clients and the tax office, but fundamentally that that, in order to do that, I need to understand what will create a win win situation where both parties can walk out satisfied. And when you're dealing with a regulatory authority, by the way, it's not the same as dealing with a commercial organisation with a commercial organisation.
It's more finding a compromise that both can live with. Sometimes when you dealing with a regulatory authority, the way you cast, the settlement can be as important as the monetary value. So these and these are things which you pick up over time. With experience.
Rob Langton 38:10
You're a tax law specialist, when analysing the current system today, what are the biggest taxation issues that have implications for broader society, and that need to be resolved sooner rather than later?
Mark Leibler AC 38:22
Well, let me tell you, what are what stands in the way of getting to where we need to go. Two things, first of all, the Senate. You have, I mean, Paul Keating, referred to the Senate as unrepresentative swill. And he was 100%. Correct. It'll never happen. But it's going to make tax reform is made very difficult by the existence of the Senate.
And the other thing, which is not going to go either are the states, the amount of buck passing involved between the Commonwealth and the States? I mean, you look in the area of health, you look at the area of education, it's impossible to figure out for the ordinary layman who's responsible for what when things go wrong, because of the amount of back passing. So there there are the issues. What do we need to do? In terms of tax reform? First of all, my part, I think we need to increase the GST. We need to provide obviously compensation to lower income earners, but it's a very difficult tax to evade or to avoid. And I think we'd have a far better structured system, if we had a higher GST and a reduced income tax, which is important from another point of view. It is my and by the way, I think I've raised this and fundamentally reached agreement in principle with every single Treasurer of For the Commonwealth for God knows how long but but ultimately what they say is, well, we we can't afford the revenue loss to do it.
The you can't have a company tax at 20. Now, close on 25% and a maximum marginal tax rate of something like 46%. It does not make any sense. Because the, what it means is those who are doing similar things, but in a different capacity are being taxed at vastly different tax rates. It's unfair, it's inequitable, it's wrong, and we're not going to have an equitable tax system until we can bring together the top marginal tax rate. And the corporate tax, right. Yeah, it's very interesting.
Paul Keating did it for one year, one year only. And I remember which year it was, but for one year, the corporate tax rate was far too high 47%. And the maximum marginal income tax rate was 47%. Interesting, but the idea is that they both have to come down, we need a higher GST. And I don't think I don't think this is going to happen for some time.
Rob Langton 41:37
I want to ask you about that. Do you see the appetite or the stomach amongst the current crop of politicians to try and enact any significant reform? Or do you think reforms dead?
Mark Leibler AC 41:48
I really think, to get effective tax reform nowadays. Two things need to happen. I think the shape of the senate needs to change. But somehow rather we you know, we need to be we need to see more bipartisanship. We don't see enough cooperation between the political parties. Every time something comes up, it doesn't matter what the merits are. The other side is going to oppose whoever's not in government is going to be opposing and we've seen this time and time again.
And, you know, as long as that's what's going to happen, it's going to be very difficult to see change. I mean, that the existence of the Senate is a real problem. When it comes to tax reform, I mean, it's a major, major problem, you know, Tony Abbott, you know, just decided to proceed with tax reform, his idea of tax reform, but to you know, ignore the fact that there's a senate there. Well, we also what happened.
Rob Langton 43:03
My second last question is about abl as a business now rather than growth for growth's sake, ABL as a business has focused on client relationships and profitability, as you've said, What are the advantages of this? And how have you managed to navigate an increasingly competitive legal landscape over recent years? Have you stayed relevant as a business?
Mark Leibler AC 43:24
Well, there is a competitive landscape, but our competition really is to be found amongst the very largest, I call them the mega sort of law firms. And I think they've made some strategic errors. You know, in recent times, some of them have become international law firms. We've actually captured and additional work from internet from from offshore large law firms, as a result of conflicts of interest which, you know, this has engendered.
Look, we need to be of a certain size because we need to be of a size, we need to have expertise and in the major areas of business law, where clients are concerned and in order to service our clients, but over and above that were quite different from our competitors, for example, one of the things that struck me is seasonal clerks. When they come in here. I always have a session with them, myself and our managing partner, Henry Lanza, we always sit down with them. We have a session beginning of the end of their clerkship. And one of the things which they say which they tell us because they've done clerkships elsewhere.
Usually at the larger law firms, they said they're quite amazed by the amount of client contact that they have. We encourage our young lawyers to have as much face time with clients, as is possible. Whereas you'll find in a lot of the mega law firms, they operate, like they operate like large, public corporations, the partners are more like employees and they all worry about losing clients if they expose other lawyers, to those clients.
Our attitude is exactly the reverse. Look, we think out of left field, we are creative. That is why clients come to us and look fine, find me another law firm that has acted at the same time for a prime minister and a leader of the opposition, which were different cases, obviously. But we have we've we've got a number of clients that will come to us for their bet the farm work from amongst, you know, the top companies.
Rob Langton 46:13
My final question is how do you say the relationship currently between Australia and Israel? And what more can be done to strengthen the relationship into the future?
Mark Leibler AC 46:23
Well, I think the relationship is, is great. I mean, Australia today in the world is one of Israel's is pretty much Israel's best friend. Australia's played a very constructive role, particularly when it was sitting on the Human Rights Council, in order to negate and speak up against the hostile anti Israel agenda which the Human Rights Council of the United Nations was advancing constantly.
I think we need to increase trade between the two countries. And I notice only yesterday, the Trade Minister Dan Tehan announced that Australia is looking to negotiating a free trade agreement with Israel, which I think is great. I think particularly in the area of innovation, cybersecurity, there's a lot more potential for relationships to further develop between Australia and Israel. I'm quite optimistic about it all.
Rob Langton 47:37
Well, Mark Leibler, Companion of the Order of Australia and for good reason too at that, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for your time.
Mark Leibler AC 47:44
My pleasure. Nice talking to you.