Remarks, Meeting with Quad Foreign Ministers

  • Transcript, E&OE

With Prime Minister, The Hon. Scott Morrison MP

Location
Melbourne, Vic
11 February 2022

PRIME MINISTER: Well my, my dear friend Marise, Minister Payne, Minister Jaishankar, Minister Hayashi. Can I thank you also again Secretary Blinken for being here with us. Yours is the longest distance to travel, but particularly with the other matters that you're dealing with at the moment, we’re very appreciative of you making this effort. And as I said, I think, on behalf of all Australians, Indians and the Japanese, we we really do welcome the quality of this partnership and the importance of this partnership to all of our partners. And I thank you very much for being here.

We live in a very fragile, fragmented and contested world, and that is no more accentuated than here in our Indo-Pacific, and the like-minded partners that we see gathered together in this Quad, I always find so incredibly reassuring. I'm reassured by our perspective. I'm reassured by the understanding that is shared between each of us. I am reassured by the incredible, strong support that Australia has received by our Quad partners, and I just don't mean in a security context. I mean that in terms of our economic partnership and cooperation. I mean that in our humanitarian partnership. I I mean that in terms of how each of us stands for a world order that favours freedom, and particularly here in a free and open Indo-Pacific. And I want to thank you for all of that.

And so while we share this perspective, we look through a lens that very much has our ASEAN partners at the centre of our understanding of the, of the Indo-Pacific vision. Australia is the first Comprehensive Strategic Partner of ASEAN, but we all share a deep passion for ASEAN, and our partnership with them, each of us is helping us achieve the many things that we're working on through the Quad. We sit here in these chairs today. But it was a great thrill to be in the White House with Secretary Blinken and with President Biden, of course, and at that point, the former Prime Minister from Japan, my good friend Yoshi Suga, and now through Fumio, and, of course, Prime Minister Modi. And here we're gathered again here in person, and I think that's tremendous.

And the things we discussed today are principally how we will continue to always stand up for our values, which combined, which is what unites us most. Secondly, I think, in doing so, we stand up to those who would seek to coerce us. And as I, as I understand from our Quad partners, none of you know, understand better than we do, and that is a great comfort to us, that the coercion and the pressure that Australia has been placed under. We greatly appreciate your support.

But we also share a vision for a strong economy, not just regional stability and security. And our engagement in this region, of which we're so passionate about, because that gives all nations in the region options and choices and opportunities, and enables their sovereignty to be strengthened and respected.

And we are working together on so many shared projects, which is what the Quad is all about. Not only, of course, the traditional regional security issues that have bound us together, but our shared partnerships on everything from critical minerals, from new technologies, to expanding our markets together and opening up markets, but also on global challenges, whether they be on climate or on humanitarian issues, or, of course, the great challenge of COVID of our age. And that has led so much of the work that has been important to this Quad partnership.

But finally, I want to end where I referred to earlier. We are great democracies, great liberal democracies, who see an economy that is founded on enterprise and innovation, and we support a world order that favours freedom through our international institutions, and it was liberal democracies that provided the framework and the foundation for those important institutions of our world, and we will always work together, I think, to reinforce those to to ensure that all countries can enjoy their own sovereignty and the freedoms of their own peoples. So thank you very much for being with us today, particularly for the important discussions that we’ve been having.

SENATOR THE HON. MARISE PAYNE, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Thanks, Prime Minister, and can I say to my friends and colleagues what a great pleasure it is to welcome you here to Australia, and particularly for a Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting in person. Minister Jaishankar and I last night were reflecting that we began with an in person meeting in New York in September of 2019. And notwithstanding COVID, we have managed to get to now a fourth meeting of of Quad Foreign Ministers, and a Quad Leaders’ Summit.

Very, very substantive and very consequential undertakings of our four great liberal democracies, as the Prime Minister said. Now we’ve got a big job this afternoon. We have a lot to discuss - the sorts of areas of practical cooperation that the Prime Minister has referred to, but our maritime security, security addressing our cyber and critical technologies issues, counter-terrorism, our efforts to work together on climate in the region and, importantly, vaccine delivery, where we can now affirm that the Quad as a, as a grouping has delivered over 500 million vaccines of our commitment in the region. Across the Indo-Pacific, those partnerships are very, very important to our, to our counterparts. And I look forward to a very productive discussion this afternoon. Thank you all for joining us here.

THE HON. DR S JAISHANKAR, MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA: [Inaudible]

HIS EXCELLENCY MR YOSHIMASA HAYASHI, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, JAPAN: [Translation] I thank you for this precious opportunity today. After this meeting we will be holding the Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting under the host of Minister Payne. And I would like to thank the initiative of Australia for this extremely timely meeting. And Prime Minister Kishida is looking forward to hosting the Quad Leaders’ Meeting in Japan in the first half of this year.

Prime Minister, we have taken Japan-Australia relations to new heights, with the Leaders’ VTC Meeting in January and the signing of the Reciprocal Access Agreement. Prime Minister Kishida hopes to further the role of bilateral relations and wishes to continue closely [inaudible]. Thank you so much.

THE HON. ANTONY J BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Prime Minister, the the risk of going last is that everything’s already been said. [Inaudible] First of all, very warm greetings from President Biden, and we appreciate not just your hospitality bringing us together, but your leadership in advancing the Quad over these these past months, and demonstrating that our four democracies coming together can produce constructed concrete results for all of our people and indeed beyond. The vaccines that Marise was talking about is just the most powerful example that the agenda that you've given us through the last Leaders’ Meeting is one that we’re determined to carry forward today to continue to demonstrate that we're producing good results for our people because, ultimately, that's what it's all about.

I would just say that I think what's so striking to me as we get together is that this is a group of countries brought together not by what we're against, but what we're for, and what we're for, quite simply, is a free and open Indo-Pacific. The most dynamic region in the world, the three fastest growing economies, half the world's population. People deserve to live freely. Countries deserve to have the freedom to work together and associate with those if they choose. And together we can demonstrate that we are effective in bringing benefits to all of our people. That's the spirit that we're conducting this in, and we're grateful for [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: I think you’re all, perhaps one or two questions. They're all very polite, I can assure you that that’s not a habit I often observe. Here they are. You’ve got them on their best behaviour.

JOURNALIST: Secretary, do you see a confrontation with China as inevitable?

THE HON. ANTONY J BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nothing is inevitable. I think that's, well, the only thing that’s inevitable in life is death and taxes, as is often said. But beyond that, no, and having having said that, I think we share concerns that in recent years China has been acting more aggressively, a whole lot more aggressively in the region. And, indeed, potentially beyond. But, as I said, what brings us together, what unites us, is an affirmative vision for what the future can bring, but also a commitment to defend the rules-based system that we have spent tremendous time and effort building over these many years, wherever it's, whenever it's [inaudible] challenged. So that's what, that's what we're focused on. And I think, again, the relationship for all of us with China is among the most consequential and most complex of any that we have. I'll let my colleagues speak for themselves. But, again, what brings us together is very much about the future that we're for, that we're trying to build together.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Morrison, Secretary Blinken was speaking just before about leadership. Are you concerned or frustrated that you were rolled in your own Cabinet regarding the Religious Discrimination Bill?

PRIME MINISTER: There’ll be a time and a place to talk about those issues. But I think the context, frankly, of what these four ministers are coming together today to focus on, that matter could not be, I think, put in the same league. What we're talking about here is a world that we have not seen like this for for about 80 years. And we are working together to seek to shape a peaceful environment where all the countries in our region that we work with so closely can enjoy their sovereignty - to not be coerced, to be able to pursue their hopes and aspirations for them and their people.

Just this week, the Foreign Minister and I met with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, and we stand with them. They understand what's going on, like those sitting around here today understand what's going on. And it's incredibly important that our plan as a Government, as a country, has been to seek to work with as many like-minded nations as we possibly can. And that like-mindedness doesn't always necessarily relate to how our systems of Government work. But a like-mindedness about an open and independent Indo-Pacific, a like-mindedness about free trade and the opportunity to have human rights observed in our region and to address the global challenges of COVID and climate. There’s a like-mindedness across many things. But the like-mindedness that unites the four of us is a like-mindedness built on being the most successful liberal democracies and indeed the largest, in India's case. And that is how we are, will continue to pursue the discussions today.

JOURNALIST: Ministers, do you anticipate that you will discuss events in Ukraine, and Dr Jaishankar, can I please ask you sir, what's India's current view of Russia's actions in Ukraine, and do you believe that Russia has behaved appropriately?

THE HON. DR S JAISHANKAR, MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA: Well, I, you know, this meeting is focused on the Indo-Pacific, as I'm sure you understand. [Inaudible] This meeting is focused on the Indo-Pacific. So I think you should figure out the geography there, and where we stand, our position [inaudible] laid it out in public at the UN Security Council.

[ENDS]

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