Working for Australia in the world

  • Speech, check against delivery

Delegates -

Yesterday, the Prime Minister rightly said this Albanese Government is “working for Australia to ensure we not only meet the challenges of this moment, we seize the opportunities of the decade ahead.”

And we do know the challenges we face in this moment are serious.

Recall, after the catastrophe of war, our Labor predecessor Doc Evatt worked assiduously in the effort to establish a system of rules, to help maintain peace between nations.

To ensure all countries had agency on issues that matter to them, from trade to human rights.

And to prevent overreach by great powers and to protect each country’s ability to decide its destiny.

These rules are now being threatened and undermined – we see that in Russia’s illegal and immoral full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

But challenges to sovereignty are not limited to full scale invasion.

Closer to home we see encroachments on the ability of countries to make their own decisions.

Encroachments including unsustainable lending and coercive trade measures, political interference and disinformation.

Encroachments on the ability of countries to contribute to regional balance.

Delegates, I want to emphasise the importance of that regional balance.

If any country thinks that they can dominate another, the risk of conflict increases.

We must ensure that no state ever concludes that the benefits of conflict outweigh the risks.

Australia’s interests are in a region that is peaceful, stable and prosperous, that operates by rules, standards and norms –where each country can pursue its own aspirations; where no country dominates, and no country is dominated.

Achieving this region requires unprecedented coordination and ambition in our statecraft.

Since day one, when the Prime Minister and I travelled to the Quad in Tokyo, the Albanese Government, on behalf of all of you, and all Australians, has been renewing many of our closest relationships, restoring trust.

Listening to the Pacific family.

Re-joining the international response on climate change.

Re-engaging with Southeast Asia, and  developing our blueprint for long term economic partnership.

Progressing stabilisation of the relationship with our largest trading partner, China.

Instituting a new development policy, and rebuilding our development program, so we can again be a partner of choice for the countries of our region.

Building momentum for diplomatic guardrails to prevent the competition between great powers from careering into conflict.

And returning diplomacy to the centre of Australia’s international policy.

We do all these things because building the conditions that maintain peace must be the greatest purpose of all countries’ diplomacy. It is the central purpose of Labor’s diplomacy.

But all countries must also play their part in collective deterrence of aggression.

By having strong defence capabilities of our own, and by working with partners investing in their own capabilities, we change the calculus for any potential aggressor.

This is why we are committed to AUKUS.

And this is why we are redoubling our efforts toward a world without nuclear weapons – continuing Labor’s proud tradition in non-proliferation and disarmament.

Our foreign and defence policies work together to make Australia’s contribution to the strategic balance of power that keeps the peace in our region.

A balance where strategic reassurance through diplomacy is underwritten by military deterrence.

The Albanese Government is deploying all elements of our statecraft, our national power.

To maintain peace and avert conflict.

To ensure we are more confident and more secure at home – and more influential in our region and in the world.

And reprising the great Labor tradition of taking the world as it is and shaping it for the better.

I commend the chapter to the conference.

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