Launch of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you Frances.

Prime Minister, Minister Ciobo, Minister Fierravanti-Wells, Minister Keith Pitt, my parliamentary colleagues, distinguished diplomats, friends all, and good morning DFAT.

This is the first Foreign Policy White Paper in over 14 years.

It is the most comprehensive report ever into the intersection of our national interest and our international engagement.

While we cannot predict the future, we can be ambitious in seeking to shape the external environment and maximise our influence in our region.

Our interests are undoubtedly global, but our priorities are primarily in our region – the Indo-Pacific – and our White Paper sets out our interests, our values and our priorities, underpinned by a set of guiding principles for our international engagement.

The White Paper analyses the threats and risks, the trends and opportunities that Australia faces over the coming decade and beyond.

We will be living in a more contested and competitive world.

Technological advances will disrupt the way we live and work and interact.

There will be shifts in relative power between nations, and the international rules-based order will continue to be challenged by some nations seeking short-term gain and others who are promising the false hope of protectionism and isolationism.

The international rules-based order – that web of alliances and treaties and institutions that was set up after World War Two to guide the behaviour of nations and towards each other – has established a set of international laws and rules, norms and conventions, that has seen the greatest expansion of prosperity in human history, where hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in our lifetime.

This international rules-based order has been to Australia's great benefit.

It is in our long-term interests, and the interests of all nations, to strengthen and defend that international rules-based order, particularly those nations who have benefited and gained the most.

Australia is well positioned to achieve the objectives set out in the Foreign Policy White Paper.

We are an open, liberal democracy, committed to freedoms, the rule of law and democratic institutions.

We are an open, export-oriented market economy, trading our goods and services around the world.

We are entering our 27th consecutive year of uninterrupted economic growth – a world record.

We are the 13th largest economy in the world, and we are living in the most economically dynamic region in the world.

We will continue to seek to ensure that our region – the Indo-Pacific – is peaceful and prosperous.

We will work to ensure that markets are kept open and trade continues to flow, that Australians will be secure and safe and free, and that we will promote a world where rules are fair and where cooperation amongst nations is deep.

We will step up our support for our neighbourhood, the Pacific, where we have unique responsibility.

We can face the future with confidence and with ambition, and this Policy White Paper will enable us to pursue an agenda of opportunity, security and strength.

The Turnbull Government promised at the 2016 election that we would deliver a substantial Foreign Policy White Paper, and we have delivered.

This is the result of an unprecedented level of consultation amongst governments, businesses, communities and stakeholders.

I want to pay special tribute to the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson; to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who are here in their numbers today; and particularly to the White Paper Taskforce, Richard Maude, for this impressive body of work.

It has been an outstanding effort and I thank you all.

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