Remarks at the International Development Policy launch Parliament House, Canberra

  • Speech (check against delivery)

Thank you, Jan and Rod.

I too acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, and pay my respect to elders past and present.

First Nations peoples were this land’s first diplomats and our first traders, we still have much to learn from their experience and practices.

Australians will soon have the opportunity to vote in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s constitution.

An opportunity to vote for recognition, for listening, and for better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

And listening has been integral to the development of this policy.

Before I go on to that can I just make some acknowledgements here, can I acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues, to Pat and to Tim, thank you so much for the work you do with me and with the Department in this portfolio.

Can I acknowledge my counterparts, I’m not sure I think Simon’s probably caught in the chamber, judging by the bells but to Mick Mack, it’s good to see you here. And to other parliamentary colleagues who are here, I appreciate you being here and demonstrating your support for development assistance.

To members of the Diplomatic Corps, it’s lovely to see so many of you here and I’m always pleased to see all of you, however I hope you don’t mind if you indulge me in just a little bit of particularising.

First can I acknowledge those Heads of Mission from the Pacific Islands Forum, obviously a very important development partner and on this ASEAN Day, acknowledge all of my ASEAN colleagues and friends.

One of the proudest things about being an Australian Foreign Minister is to talk about the fact we were ASEAN’s first dialogue partner.

Anyway, I digress. Returning to the practice of listening, it’s an importance practice and it has informed the way Pat, Tim and I have approached foreign policy in the time since we’ve been elected…

Listening and working closely with our partners in the region – many of whom are represented here today.

This policy we launch today is a result of listening, and it commits our future direction to being guided by listening to the priorities of our partners.

Pat will outline some of the key aspects of the policy and any difficult questions will go to him. Instead, I want to make some observations about the context in which we release it.

I welcome Simon, I said you were probably caught in the chamber.

It’s been almost a decade since an Australian Government released a development policy.

Our world and our region have changed in that time.

We now face the most challenging strategic circumstances in many generations.

These challenges include encroachments on the ability of countries to exercise their agency…

Unsustainable lending; coercive trade measures; the reshaping of international rules, standards and norms that have benefited smaller countries from trade to human rights…

And ranging all the way through to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with terrible impacts for the people of Ukraine and for the whole world’s food and energy security.

These challenges we now face include the ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty and accelerate development and equality: efforts that were set back by the pandemic.

And these challenges include the biggest threat faced by our region: climate change.

You may have heard me say before that in the context of these challenges, Australia must deploy all our national power – all tools of statecraft - to help shape the region that we want: one that reflects our national interests and the shared interests of our region.

So we came to Government with a clear purpose to revitalise Australia’s development policy and funding.

Over our first two Budgets, we have rebuilt the ODA program. I thank my colleagues for that.

Last October the Government committed an additional $1.4 billion in ODA over four years, exceeding our election commitment to provide an additional $1.0 billion in ODA.

This year, the Government has continued to increase the ODA budget in a sustainable way, including by providing for ongoing growth over the longer term.

And now with the rebuilding of funding we release the settings of our development policy.

Those settings reflect the circumstances we find ourselves in – and the challenges we must all face together – if we are to live in a region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous – and where sovereignty is respected.

This last point, respect for sovereignty, is vitally important for us.

It is central to the United Nations Charter and this Government’s own worldview that each country must be able to determine its own fate and make choices for itself.

That means we don’t engage in the kinds of practices like unsustainable lending that diminish sovereignty.

It means our relations are based on partnership and respect - seeking to contribute to a region where all our countries and people can cooperate and thrive.

Where countries can reach their potential because all their peoples can reach their potential, regardless of gender, disability or other attribute.

Where we all remain dedicated to implementing the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals – the only internationally agreed blueprint for sustainable development for all people.

We must ensure the coherent delivery of the SDGs, because we know what would take their place – proposals that would likely lead to unsustainable development, and disregard gender equality, environmental protection and human rights.

It has long been our shared project to pursue economic and social development; the credibility of the international system from which we all benefit depends on that project being advanced.

That is why the Australian Government is committed to doing our part to deliver the full 2030 Agenda and all 17 SDGs.

We will deliver an effective, transparent and accountable development program.

One that makes a positive difference to countries and lives in our region and beyond.

One that is fit for the challenges and the opportunities of our time.

We will deliver a development program that reflects what I hope is our shared purpose.

Shared purpose across our region, and I once again acknowledge the diplomatic corps with us today...

A development program that reflects shared purpose across our political system.

A development program that reflects shared purpose between government and civil society, and I acknowledge representatives of the development sector in attendance today.

It is my sincere hope that your presence here reflects that shared purpose, of a development policy that advances the interests of our nation, our region, and all its peoples.

Thank you very much.

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