Australia's foreign policy priorities and our candidature for the UN Security Council

Speech to the National Press Club, Canberra

Speech. Check against delivery, E&OE

1 June 2011

The business of Australian foreign policy is to advance Australia’s national interests — and to do so in a manner consistent with Australian values.

The business of Australia’s foreign policy is therefore not simply to analyse events.

Even less is it simply to describe those events.

Rather, the business of Australian foreign policy is to make a difference in shaping the international events that in turn shape our nation’s future.

This, in essence, is the difference between a passive and an active Australian foreign policy.

This, of course, is often the road less travelled.

Because a course of action which simply “seeks to be informed“ about what is happening in the world, is the safe course of action.

It is far harder to come to grips with what is driving events and to work out how we, as Australians, can intelligently make a difference.

In the Labor tradition of foreign policy, we always seek to be actors rather than informed bystanders in the unfolding events of our region and the world at large.

We do so, not as some sort of optional foreign policy extra or part of the generic software that comes with the progressive side of politics. We do so out of national necessity, because throughout our federated history, we have been anxious to carve out a future for our nation in what has often been an uncertain and volatile part of the world.

Years ago, as a young Australian diplomat, I was told that the mission statement of the Australian foreign service was to “win a future for Australia in the world”.

With hindsight, I believe that was right.

Because to maintain our territorial integrity, preserve our political sovereignty and to advance our national economic interest was not, and is not, an easy thing.

We are a Western democracy of some 23 million people residing in a region of 3.8 billion people whose political and cultural traditions were vastly different from our own origins. Our natural environment has often been inhospitable. Our population is small. Our continent, and its surrounding maritime zone, is vast. Twenty-two of our 24 closest neighbours are developing countries and many are emerging democracies.

Our distance from the centres of global capital needed for our national development has been considerable. There has been no easy proximity, for example, to the countries of Europe or, for that matter, of North America.

Therefore, to win a future for Australia has required constant and concerted national effort. And within this framework, our foreign policy, of necessity, has had to be on the front foot.

Always looking over the horizon to the next challenge; always working hard on where we should take our nation next; and, at our best, never, ever resting on our laurels.

Because at our best, we are a big country with big ideas — comfortable with our past, confident of our future.

And while prosecuting our abiding national interests with a forward-leaning foreign policy, we are at the same time infused with our abiding values of freedom and a fair go for all.

These then are the underpinnings of the foreign policy which I as the Foreign Minister seek to prosecute for Australia:

  • Forever vigilant about the threats to our national security;
  • Never yielding on our political sovereignty;
  • Always building coalitions with other states as we seek to build together a global and regional rules-based order that underpins the interests of all states, great and small, including our own.

Furthermore, we seek to do these things as a middle power with both regional and global interests.

Moreover, we seek to do so through what I have long called creative, middle-power diplomacy. Building on the national assets we have as a stable democracy, a strong economy and a long history of internationalism. While augmenting these assets with the coalitions of interests and values we construct around the region and the world.

Australia’s current foreign policy agenda is therefore very full. Nonetheless our priorities are clear.

First and foremost, we must sustain the political momentum of the G20.

Maintaining global macroeconomic stability is a core national interest. Ensuring the implementation of the global financial reform agenda is critical. Delivering on the broader G20 development agenda for the poorest countries on the earth is also crucial.

Securing Australia’s place at the table of this the principal institution of global economic governance was a hard fought diplomatic battle. We can therefore ill afford losing any momentum for the institution we worked so hard to craft.

That’s why we continue to fashion “coalitions of the policy-willing” to drive the G20 policy agenda. That’s why in my own portfolio’s case, we are working intimately with the French and others on detailing the G20 development agenda, including food security. Because if the developing world loses confidence in the G20, its credibility as a global institution reflecting the new global economic realities between developed and major developing economies will collapse.

Second, Australian foreign policy is dedicated to the long term development of an Asia Pacific community through the agency of an enhanced East Asia Summit.

Our mission statement is clear: how to craft a new regional architecture which can sustain the long term regional stability of East Asia and the West Pacific. In particular, to begin to craft a common political and security agenda for our neighbourhood — one that militates against the long-standing political and territorial tensions and disputes that characterise so much of the wider region.

Getting Southeast Asia to invite America to join in the East Asia Summit was no easy thing. Getting America to accept such an invitation was equally no easy thing. But now that we have got to first base, with the first summit meeting including America to be held in Indonesia in November, the real work begins.

Third, at a global level, Australia remains actively engaged with the institutions of the United Nations.

Just as we have a deep national interest in building a regional rules-based order in East Asia, so too are we engaged in enhancing the global rules-based order through the United Nations, the Bretton Woods Institutions and the G20.

This means ensuring Australia’s voice is heard properly across the United Nations and that means the United Nations Security Council, to which I will return presently. It also means a commitment to long term UN reform.

That is why Australia will continue to prosecute both a long term campaign in support of UN structural reform while at the same time dedicating ourselves to making the current machinery work.

Fourth, Australia is committed to the continuing global and regional significance of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth comprises 53 member states. It draws its membership from every continent on earth. It comprises some of the world’s most significant developed and developing economies. And it continues to set normative standards on both the institutions of democracy and the proper conduct of democratic elections.

That is why Australia will be hosting this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth. That is why Australia is committed to enhancing the Commonwealth’s role as a democratic standard-bearer across the world. And that is why Australia will continue to use the unique forum of the Commonwealth, representing both developed and developing countries from around the world, to build momentum towards global agreements through the formal institutions of the United Nations — whether in the fields of climate change, trade liberalisation or development.

Fifth, Australia foreign policy remains fully engaged with the classical challenges of national security, together with our related interest in the prosecution of the nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament agenda.

That’s why our alliance with the United States remains core for us — the bedrock of Australia’s national security interests. The United States provides the cornerstone of security in our region, and our relations with the United States are underpinned by the ANZUS treaty which is 60 years old this year.

We are taking forward with the United States strong outcomes from AUSMIN in Melbourne in November 2010 — cooperation on Asia-Pacific security, building strong regional architecture through an expanded East Asian Summit which now includes the US and Russia, and work on the emerging challenges of the 21st century, among those cyber security and space cooperation. I look forward to advancing this extremely important agenda at the next AUSMIN consultations which are scheduled for the US later this year.

That is why we remain vigilant on the continuing challenge of counter- terrorism. Together with the new challenges of cyber security.

That is also why on the non-proliferation front, Australia has, together with Japan, launched a global Non-Proliferation Nuclear Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in order to give political momentum to the implementation of the 64 agreed recommendations of the NPT review conference of last year.

Then there is climate change and energy.

One of the continuing core objectives of Australia’s foreign policy is to support a global agreement that will bring global emissions down to the degree necessary to keep global temperature increases to the range of 2 degrees centigrade.

That is why our foreign policy supports Minister Combet in every aspect of the UNFCCC process — including the upcoming Durban Conference.

That is why through the aid budget, we have actively supported the Copenhagen and Cancun initiatives for Fast Start Finance for the world’s most fragile states and economies facing the existential challenge of climate change.

That’s why we have become one of the global leaders of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) because of the significance of rainforest degradation to overall greenhouse gas emissions.

That is also why we actively support Minister Ferguson in the prosecution of the range of global clean energy initiatives — including global carbon capture and storage.

And that is why I am an active member of the Global Sustainability Panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which seeks in part to integrate the principles of sustainable development into the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals — so that uncontrolled emissions, and associated temperature rises are not simply seen as unavoidable (almost binary) consequences of global poverty reduction.

Australian foreign policy is also deeply engaged with the Australian business community and the difficult task of winning a more robust economic future for Australia.

That is why our foreign policy will seek to work hand in glove with the global economic engagement of the Australian business community. That is why we actively support the annual Africa DownUnder Conference in Australia. That is why we are considering a comparable “Latin America DownUnder Conference” — again signifying the significance of Australian business engagement with the rapidly growing economies across the Pacific. That is also why we have supported the first Australia-Arab business forum recently concluded in Melbourne, which bought to Australia for the first time a coordinated economic and business mission from the Gulf States.

That is also why the Trade Minister and I will be undertaking a roadshow around Australia, and later a formal trade and investment mission to China’s second cities to broaden and deepen Australia economic engagement with China.

Then there is the growing importance of Australian development assistance.

Australian foreign policy takes the Millennium Development Goals seriously. Australian overseas development assistance is becoming increasingly critical to poverty reduction programs around the world. 87% of our country programs go directly to our immediate region. Of this, 25% of our aid program goes to the South Pacific. 25% to East Asia. While much of the rest is distributed around the world through multilateral programs administered by a range of UN agencies.

That is why we are increasing our ODA to 0.5% of GNI by 2015.

That’s why we have as a result increased our international development assistance in the last budget in order to step up to that target.

And that is why as Minister, in the first three months in this portfolio, I commissioned the first independent aid effectiveness review in 15 years.

Australia is also deeply engaging with the principal countries of our region in order to underpin our national strategic and economic interests.

We are broadening and deepening our engagement with China. That is why we are enhancing our economic engagement with China in what I have described as China 2.0. That is why we will continue to expand our foreign and security policy dialogue with China. And that is why we will continue to seek to manage any policy differences we will have with China from time to time — be it in human rights or in the broader remit of regional security policy.

I have constantly said that the Australia China relationship is a case of a glass eight parts full. I have never resiled from that analogy. I remain an optimist both on China’s future in general and the future of Australia’s bilateral engagement with China in particular.

And in the spirit of what I have called “Zhengyou” (a friend who is prepared to be candid about differences when they arise), we have no intention of resiling from differences when they occur. That is why I have also said there is a third way for dealing with China which is neither kow tow nor conflict; neither being categorised as “pro Chinese” or “anti Chinese” as some sort of out-dated, binary Cold War concept no longer applicable to our engagement with the vastly complex phenomenon that is the modern China.

This is what I call a balanced relationship with dealing with China.

Australia foreign policy is also focused on a deeper engagement with India. That’s why we are rapidly expanding our economic engagement. That’s why we are also engaging India more broadly on political and security cooperation through the framework of the Strategic Partnership we agreed on my own visit to Delhi in November 2009. That’s why we are expanding our diplomatic representation on the ground. And that why we are engaging fully on the future of the Indian Ocean through our prospective respective roles as Chair and Vice Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.

At the same time, Australia is also deepening our traditional engagement with Japan and Korea. We have formal 2 + 2 foreign and defence dialogues with Japan and are moving towards a 2 + 2 dialogue with Korea.

In the South Pacific, we are comprehensively engaged with the Pacific Island Forum– both bilaterally and multilaterally. That is why we have re-negotiated our bilateral development assistance agreements with the countries of the South Pacific. These are now designed to produce measureable outcomes from the significant investment of Australian dollars in education, health, infrastructure and governance.

That is why we have also agreed the Cairns Compact on external development assistance to the South Pacific.

We remain profoundly engaged with Papua New Guinea a critical relationship for Australia.

And we also remain deeply seized of Fiji and the need to bring about real political change in that country whose regime has suspended most of its constitutional and democratic arrangements. While at the same time remaining clear that Australia’s argument is not with the Fijian people (for whom we are increasing aid) but rather with the military regime that now rules Fiji.

In South East Asia we continue to engage ASEAN multilaterally, the ASEAN states bilaterally, including our direct engagement with Burma.

Our engagement with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and others across South East Asia is now comprehensive.

Despite the fact the Burmese regime remains oppressive, Australian foreign policy has sought to significantly increase ODA to Burma in order to address underlying problems of health, education and the humanitarian needs of hundreds of thousands of internally and internationally displaced Burmese.

Australian interests and values have also been seized by recent developments in the Middle East.

Australia’s view is straight forward: we have a deep interest in the success of the democratic project in the Arab world.

We are also deeply seized that if political stability collapses in the Arab world the implications for Australia abound, including:

  • A greater potential operating space for militant Islamism;
  • The increased strategic influence of Iran;
  • The significant outflow of peoples of the region seeking refuge elsewhere;
  • Not to mention the price of oil and its impact on non inflationary global economic recovery.

For these reasons Australia has actively re-engaged the Middle East.

That’s why I have visited the region three times in the last six months and have engaged with the leadership in Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman.

As well as with Israel and the Palestinian Authority - including significantly increasing our aid through the World Bank Trust Fund for Palestine, together with additional funding for UNRA, for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Gaza.

That is also why we have decided to actively support the political transformation process and humanitarian crisis in Libya.

That is why we are deeply seized of the political crisis in Syria, including the need for further urgent consideration by the UNSC of the flagrant acts of violence by the Syrian regime, including the horrific torture and murder of a 13 year old child.

And in Egypt and Tunisia that is why we are providing active economic, urban employment and agricultural systems in order to assist smoothing the political transition process.

In Europe, we are now fully engaged bilaterally and with the EU — with the ambition of elevating our relationship to treaty level status.

Similarly with NATO where we have engaged a new formal legal mechanism with Brussels whereby in any new military engagement with NATO forces, we are fully engaged with both policy and operational planning from the beginning

In addition, we are fully engaged bilaterally with the British (through an enhanced annual AUKMIN structure); together with expanded bilateral engagement with France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the other nations of Europe.

There is much we can do together with the Europeans, both on the foreign policy, security policy, climate change and development.

Australia has also undertaken fresh engagement both with Africa and Latin America.

In Africa Australia now has more than $20 billion in FDI spread across more than 200 companies, in 600 projects.

Australia is also deeply engaged with the poverty challenges of the continent which is why we have recently doubled our ODA to Africa and why we have recently opened a mission in Addis Ababa, the home of the African Union.

That is why Australia now operates within a framework of a formal MOU with the African Union — as we seek to undertake common projects together across the continent.

Similarly with Latin American where we now have enhanced regular dialogue with Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and others.

Once again our emerging economic interests in the Latin America continent are significant.

Of course all these bilateral relationships work in parallel with the government’s fundamental responsibilities to the more than 1 million Australians abroad in any one given year.

Our responsibility is to support each and every Australian should they need it, with the necessary consular support to deal with particular difficulties as they arise.

For some this may appear as being the least dramatic part of the Australian Foreign service’s work.

In fact, it is the most fundamental.

That is why we in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs are engaged in the third phase of our Smartraveller program, which will run over four years, and will enhance the delivery of these consular services to travelling Australians both prior to and subsequent of departure.

This is core business for us and will always remain so.

UNSC Bid

As you can see, we are actively engaged across multiple foreign policy fronts.

This is inevitable given the impact of globalisation on all of us.

Countries that were once deemed to be far are, now in, fact quite near.

And the consequence of this is that the nations of the world are now more intimately engaged in the affairs of one another than ever was the case before.

For those of us in Australia, and those of us that continue to suffer the tyranny of distance, we have no alternative but to engage comprehensively across the councils of the world.

And the core of so much of our engagement lies in and through the good offices of various agencies of the United Nations.

And the core of the UN is of course the UN Security Council.

Under international law, the UNSC is the ultimate sanctioning authority of international diplomatic and military action to maintain global peace and security.

For 40 years of its history, from the Korean War until the fall of the Soviet Union, the UNSC was largely paralysed by the use of veto powers of one or other of the permanent five, invariably divided along classical cold war lines.

For the last 20 years, this has radically changed.

The UNSC has become arguably the single most active, and, therefore, contested institution in the UN system.

We can see that simply by the sheer number of UNSC resolutions adopted: prior to 1991, a total of 683; since 1991 a total of 1282.

The Security Council has been active across most, if not all, the modern theatres of human conflict and crisis — sometimes successfully, other times not.

From Cote D’Ivoire, to Libya, the Balkans, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and in our own neighbourhood, East Timor.

This brings us to the first reason why Australia is contesting a non-permanent seat on the UNSC — namely that the Security Council is now more relevant, active and interventionist on global and regional security challenges than at any previous time in its history.

It is critical, therefore, to the future of the global, rules-based security order that the maintenance of this order, of itself, is one of the three core objectives of Australian foreign policy.

Second, the UNSC in the immediate period ahead, is directly relevant to a number of core Australian national security interests.

Take Afghanistan as an example.

Australia has been deploying troops to Afghanistan under UN Security Council and NATO International Security Assistance Force mandates for 10 years.

Through persistent advocacy, we have now secured formal NATO recognition as a fully fledged partner country to be fully engaged at every of the NATO/ISAF decision making process.

It would be of direct relevance to Australia’s security interests in Afghanistan to have a similar capacity to reflect out interests in the body that sets the mandates affecting all our personnel in Afghanistan — namely the Security Council — given that we are the tenth largest contributor, and the largest non-NATO contributor to the Afghanistan operation.

This will be especially significant in 2014, the year in which the transition to the Afghans taking the security lead is due to be completed. A year in which the mandate under which ISAF operates is expected to shift significantly. A critical year in which there is always the risk of destabilisation in the transition period.

It is, therefore, in Australia’s direct international security interests to be in a position to directly shape the content of any future UNSC resolution.

Australia has made great sacrifices in Afghanistan.

We have a national interest in Afghanistan’s long term success as a viable state.

And furthermore, any successor UNSC resolution would directly shape any future Australian military or economic development presence in that country post-2014.

Take as another example East Timor.

Our close northern neighbour is due to hold elections in 2012. The international security presence there, including 400 Australian troops and 50 police, are due to begin to draw down after that election. These forces are in East Timor under the relevant UNSC resolutions.

Australia has profound interests in the stability and success of East Timor - including therefore in the specific content of any future Council resolution. If Australia was on the Council in 2013-14, those interests would be represented by us directly.

Similarly with Bougainville.

A referendum on that islands future is due after 2015. Being on the Security Council would allow Australia to help ensure appropriate preparations are made for the referendum.

Let us not forget Australia was a key partner in the Bougainville Peace Process, which bought to an end a conflict that claimed over 15 000 lives. Remember, over 4,000 Australians served with the Bougainville Truce and Peace Monitoring Groups from 1998.

Then there is the future of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands.

RAMSI does not operate under direct UNSC mandate. But it does operate with the support of the United Nations Secretary General, of which UNSC members are aware. Any future evolution of the RAMSI mission is of direct national security interest to Australia and UNSC membership would assist that.

There is also, of course, the ongoing UNSC engagement with North Korea, Iran, the Middle East and the continued proscription of terrorist organisations around the world.

None of these interests are esoteric.

In fact all of them bear on our direct national interests.

And some of them are likely to be of particular relevance in the 2013-14 period, during which Australia would be on the council.

A third reason for our UNSC candidature are the formidable assets we bring to the table.

I rarely quote Alexander Downer. But Mr Downer once gave a speech at this venue in which he argued that the notion that Australia is a “little country” was a myth.

I agree with Alex.

In fact it is the message I take around Australia and around the world: Australia is a big country — big on ideas, big in spirit and formidable in the diplomatic, military and economic capabilities we bring to table.

We are the world’s 6th largest country by land mass. We are the world’s third largest maritime zone. Our 1.3 trillion dollar economy is the world’s 12th or 13th largest. We are the fourth largest economy in Asia. We are one of the top ten major suppliers of energy and resources to the world. Our military expenditure is the world’s 14th largest and the 5th largest in Asia.

Of the 192 UN member states, we are the world’s 12th biggest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and to its peace keeping budget.

In fact we were the first nation to contribute Peacekeepers to a UN mission back in 1947 overseeing the ceasefire between the emerging Indonesian republic and the Dutch colonial occupation.

Since then Australia has contributed more than 65,000 troops as UN Forces to more than 50 UN mandated operations.

Australia has also been actively engaged in all UN institutions since the beginning.

Of the 192 UN member states, our 4.8 billion dollar development assistance budget is the world’s 11th largest.

We are actively engaged across the range of the UN Millennium Development Goals to bring about a measurable reduction in global poverty that still afflicts 1.4 billion members of the human family.

For these reasons, together with our capacity for creative middle power diplomacy, our ability to form coalitions to bring about diplomatic solutions to global diplomatic problems both great and small, and backed by a formidable and professional global diplomatic network, it is in fact normal, natural and desirable that a country such as Australia be active on the Security Council.

Across the world, while from time to time we may have our critics, Australia represents a positive international brand - a significant force for good in the world where we are rightly seen as not just prosecuting our national interests, but equally promoting the global and regional order that supports us all.

This brings me to a fourth reason for contesting the UNSC for 2013-14.

We have not served on the council since before the end of the cold war.

In fact if we win a non permanent seat starting in 2013, it will be 27 years since we last sat on the council - 27 Years.

And some are saying it is still too early.

A gap of more than a quarter of a century is too long for a country of Australia’s global standing and global capacity, of Australia’s national character and our sense of global responsibility.

It is too long a period to have left to others the role of shaping the rules by which we play.

This is not a matter of Australia waiting its turn.

Since Australia last served on the council, 90 other countries have served a term.

Two of those countries, Japan and Brazil, have served 5 times.

Two of those countries, Argentina and Germany, have served four times.

Two of those countries, Colombia and Italy, have served three times.

And 21 of those countries have served twice since we last served in 1986.

These include five members of our own UN grouping: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Portugal and Spain.

These include three countries from our own Asia Pacific region: Indonesia, India and Malaysia.

These include six countries from Africa: Algeria, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

And four countries from Latin America: Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela.

All these countries have served twice since Australia last served.

Every other G20 nation, except Saudi Arabia, has served at least once since we last served.

Australia was on the council four times (once every decade on average) between 1946 and 1986. But then a gap of more than two and a half decades.

The time has well and truly come for Australia to stand up for itself and have a go.

Success is never guaranteed in these ventures. Look at Canada last year.

Nor is it on this occasion.

But if fear of failure is our principal motivation in international diplomacy, we may as well all give up and go home.

The government’s view is simple — you’ve got to be in it to win it.

This brings me to our final reason for seeking a seat on the UNSC — and that is to make a difference.

Australia has no interest in being on the Council for the sake of being there. We are there to make a difference — bringing to bear a combination of our values, our interests and our significant national capacities.

One of those values is that in international relations, we seek to do what we say we are going to do.

This is not necessarily common-place in international relations.

And it is a potent message if at the same time we seek to be an effective voice for the small and medium countries of the world.

This was very much Evatt’s mission when he helped draft the UN Charter at the San Francisco Conference back in 1945.

It gives international expression to that enduring Australian value of a fair go for all.

We in the Labor Party have never believed that our concept of a fair go mysteriously expires at the Australian continental shelf.

There is an intrinsic big heartedness about Australians that causes us all, when we witness disasters, human or manmade, anywhere around the world, to ask ourselves this simple question “and what can we do?”

And that is the Australian voice in the world that the world wants to hear.

And I believe the voice that Australians themselves expect of this great country of ours in the councils of the world.

Australia is going all out to win this campaign with absolutely no guarantee of success. And you don’t do this by simply sitting still. You have got to go out to the world and try and win it.

For this I make absolutely no apology.

We must garner the votes of two thirds of the United Nations membership — the votes of 128 countries.

And we face a tough race against two European states.

We will fight fair but we will fight hard.

To that end, the Government, from the Prime Minister down, has put a high priority on this bid. This government will take every opportunity it can to highlight Australia’s credentials and to further our bid.

The Prime Minister will do so; I will do so; other senior ministers will do so; the Special Envoys I have appointed will do so.

In prosecuting this bid, visits by senior members of the government, and by myself as Foreign Minister, to other countries and other regional groupings will be critical to promote Australia’s credentials for election.

Again for this I make absolutely no apology.

Not every foreign government sends its senior representatives to Canberra — how often have we all heard the refrain “but it’s so far”?

Even in the absence of any UN Security Council bid, travelling far to meet foreign leaders and foreign governments and to pursue Australia’s interests is also central to the job of being foreign minister.

Is my travel schedule heavy? Yes, it is.

Does it advance Australia’s interests? I believe it does.

Will it continue? Yes, it will.

Because that is the job of a Foreign Minister. And if you look closely at the job description, I’m commissioned to engage with “foreigners”. And in my experience, most “foreigners” are in the habit of living overseas.

Sixty-six years ago at a conference in San Francisco, the battered and bloodied nations of the world gathered to lay the foundations of a new global organisation.

An organisation designed above all “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, which twice in the lifetime of conference delegates had brought “untold sorrow to mankind”.

In October of 1945, the United Nations came into being.

And Australia, recognised as an influential, capable and responsible middle power, took its place as a member of the first United Nations Security Council.

We have served with distinction four times on the Security Council under successive Australian Governments of both political persuasions — and on each occasion with full bipartisan support.

For the reasons I have outlined, it is in our national interest that Australia now does so again.

END

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