Speech at Banksia Ignite Launching Australia’s first report on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning everybody and thank you UncleMichael Allen for that delightful Welcome to Country. I thank the BanksiaFoundation and all the partners here today for hosting this event which isdesigned to communicate to the Australian people the aspirations, the ideals andphilosophy behind the Sustainable Development Goals. I think it is soappropriate to align this event with Vivid Sydney - what an extraordinary eventthat has been for this beautiful city.
TheSustainable Development Goals have been agreed by all nations. This is aremarkable outcome. There was a commitment from each and every nation aroundthe world to reduce poverty, to increase economic opportunity and to aim forpeace and prosperity for all.
The 2030Agenda is ambitious, but it is doable if all nations, all people work togetherto achieve the goals. The 2030 Agenda seeks to eradicate absolute poverty andembrace inclusive economic growth.
TheAustralian Government strongly supports the Sustainable Development Goals and Iam joined today by my colleague the Minister for International Development andthe Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. We are committed to ensuringthat Australia plays its part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.Indeed, we helped write the goals. In particular, we had a very significantrole to play in a number of them. On the board over there, I have marked thefour that were particularly important to Australia: SDG5 gender equality. Weargued for that to be a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal. SDG8 oneconomic growth, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. SDG14 on oceans inparticular, we are an island continent and we are part of the Pacific, one ofthe great oceans of the world. We are also the custodian of the Great BarrierReef, the most remarkable coral reef in the world. Australia had a particularinterest in SDG14. SDG16, peace and governance, again, a very important issuefor us.
We arecommitted to the SDGs. The goals are universal in that all nations have agreedto them, but they also reflect Australia's values and our outlook: fairness,justice, equality of opportunity. Indeed, the SDGs embrace freedom - political,economic, social, religious. This aligns very much with Australia's outlook inthat we are an open liberal democracy. We are committed to freedoms, the ruleof law, democratic institutions. We are also committed to the internationalrules-based order. That network of alliances and treaties, institutions, normsand conventions underpinned by international law that has evolved since theSecond World War to govern the behaviour of nations and how they behave towardseach other. There is a very strong alignment between the SDGs and Australia.What is important, though, is that we all work in partnership, government,business, civil society, private sector, the public sector. This is an effortfor us all.
The UnitedNations agreed that each nation should report on progress - how we are faringin achieving goals, what experiences each nation has had, what lessons havebeen learned and how we can share them. This is called our 'Voluntary National Review'.
On the 17thof July this year - which happens to be my birthday, so that is how Iremembered - Minister Fierravanti-Wells will be at the High-Level Political Forumon Sustainable Development at the UN in New York. Connie will presentAustralia's first report. She will submit our Voluntary National Review, but wethought we had better share it with our partners in Australia first. Hencetoday we are launching in advance of Connie submitting the report to the UN,Australia's Voluntary National Review.
Inparticular I want to thank a number of people who have supported it, a numberof organisations. The Global Compact Network, thank you for your efforts. TheSustainable Development Solutions Network, the Council of Social Services, theAustralia Council for International Development, and the United NationsAssociation of Australia. So many people have assisted us in the development ofour report because there are so many stories to tell.
While wehave achieved much here in Australia and we are a prosperous, stable, peacefulcountry, there is still so much more for us to do here in Australia. Of course,our report will contain details of what we are doing to assist other nationsachieve their goals, but I just want to focus just for a moment on what we cando and should be doing here in Australia.
Closing thegap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is a major challenge forthis country and the report gives some detail as to what has been achieved andwhat still needs to be achieved.
One area thatI think is absolutely ripe with potential is Indigenous businesses, supportingIndigenous people run their businesses and provide opportunities for Indigenousand non-Indigenous people. Much of this can be achieved through procurementpolicies of Government and the private sector. The Australian Government'sIndigenous Procurement Policy is generating opportunities for Indigenousbusinesses which in turn generates opportunities for Indigenous people andtheir families. In fact, the publishing contract for our Voluntary NationalReview came about through the Government's Indigenous Procurement Policy.
There are anumber of corporations throughout Australia who are doing great things throughIndigenous procurement, Qantas, Fortescue Metal Group from Western Australia,and many others. I think that that is an area that we can focus a greatereffort and it will, of course, align with a number of the SDGs.
I've beendelighted to see the number of companies that have incorporated the SDGs intotheir overall mission – Wesfarmers and Worley Parsons - are a couple ofexamples that you will see. But also, civil society, working not only inAustralia but overseas in countries like Myanmar – and I know Connie has justreturned from Myanmar – there is some great work that we are doing throughcivil society to assist other countries achieve their Sustainable DevelopmentGoals.
I think thatthe meeting in New York in July will really give us a perspective for the firsttime on how countries are going about achieving their SDGs, how seriously theyare taking them, what we can learn from others and I really think this will bean enormous push, it will really give it the momentum that we need.
I am alsodelighted today to launch the Australian SDG website, cunningly named 'TheAustralian Sustainable Development Goal website'. This has been developed bythe Global Compact Network with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairsand Trade. Again, a great idea so that we can track the progress of business,of government, of civil society. We can put a lot of information on the websiteand we can maintain that momentum that I think is very important.
I am verypleased today to launch the Voluntary National Review and the Australia SDGwebsite.
The otherweek Connie and I went to the North Pacific. It was a bipartisan trip, weinvited along our counterparts from the Labor Party, Senator Penny Wong andSenator Claire Moore - the four of us. It didn't go unnoticed that the fourrepresentatives from Australia were all women – SDG5 – and it sent quite apowerful message to the Pacific, raised an eyebrow or two, but it also sentquite a powerful message to the Pacific where we know the representation ofwomen in politics, in government is at a global low. It is at about 7 per centwhereas the global average is about 23 per cent of female representation inParliament.
Anyway, tothe point, I was really struck by an initiative that Palau has introduced. Itis an utterly beautiful island nation in the North Pacific. It isenvironmentally fragile, it is economically fragile, and yet the people havecome together, all of the people have come together, to maintain the pristineenvironment yet attract tourism to underpin economic activity.
I am goingto read to you, if I can find it on my Instagram, a little pledge. What theydecided to do at the government level, is to require every person visitingPalau to sign a pledge that is in their passport and you are not able to enterPalau until you get the pledge stamped in your passport and you sign it. Theyintroduced this last November and already it is having an impact on the waytourists treat Palau, just in terms of cleaning up rubbish after themselves,the way they treat the local people, the local flora and fauna. I was so struckby it I want to read it to you. Put this in the context of achieving the SDGs.This is in your passport, the Palau Pledge:
"Children ofPalau, I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautifuland unique island home. I vow to tread lightly, and act kindly and exploremindfully. I shall not take what is not given. I shall not harm what does notharm me. The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away."
It is abeautiful statement. I am just wondering if Peter Dutton will allow me to putit in the passports of people coming to Australia? This is an example ofcountries coming together to achieve great things. If the island of Palau canensure that everyone who visits Palau treats its pristine environment with careand love, then I think that that is an example for us all to follow.
Ladies andgentlemen, I wish you well for your deliberations today. I can assure you thatthe Australian Government is determined that Australia plays its part inachieving SDGs at home and supporting others achieve them abroad.