Address by Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison

On Wednesday 9 June 2021, the Perth USAsia Centre hosted the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, as he delivered his keynote address: A world order that favours freedom ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

The Prime Minister’s address was livestreamed to his Facebook channel and to a Perth USAsia Centre audience, with registrants from the United States, Belgium, India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Attending the event – both in-person or online – were senior officials, students, industry leaders and strategic thinkers from across Australia and the world.

After opening remarks by Sky News political journalist, Ashleigh Gillon, and an introduction from Professor Gordon Flake, Prime Minister Morrison outlined the broad themes comprising Australia’s agenda for the summit. The themes covered are listed below:

  • Supporting open societies, open economies and a rules-based order.
  • Building sovereign capacity for Australia.
  • Cooperation on global challenges.
  • Enabling renewed business-led growth.
  • The success of liberal democracies.

Delivered against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global strategic environment, Prime Minister Morrison asserted the importance of enhanced international cooperation. Coalitions between like-minded countries and properly functioning multilateral institutions are essential for upholding a rules-based order.

A liberal, rules-based order that supports open market economies was positioned as crucial for providing opportunities domestically, in the region, and globally. Australia’s business-centric economy was credited for Australia’s economic recovery, following the start of the global pandemic.

“Australia’s prosperity rests squarely on maintaining our position as an outward-looking, open trading economy,” said Prime Minister Morrison.

Australia’s membership or participation in multilateral fora including the Quad, G7 Plus, East-Asia Summit and OECD remains crucial for upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific, and provides important platforms for Australia’s advocacy on the global stage.

Given recent challenges to economic openness – including the use of geoeconomics – the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of restoring the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement mechanism to keep countries accountable for economic coercion.

Prime Minister Morrison also called for greater accountability in the digital space; he intends to cooperate with allies to set international standards around the use of data and engender a more transparent digital economy.

Coordinated action by liberal democracies is necessary to ensure future global standards reflect the specific needs and values of open societies.

Strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, and growing technological capability amongst competitors, adds to the risk of military conflict. To this end, the Australian Government invested an additional $270 billion into the Defence budget in 2020, to be spent over the next decade.

Relationships in the region also remain crucial for Australia’s security. Prime Minister Morrison recognised Australia’s efforts to strengthen important relationships with the US, India and Japan, Southeast Asia and ASEAN, and in the Pacific Islands while acknowledging the Indo-Pacific as a focus of the US-Australia alliance. 

“Australia’s interests are inextricably linked to the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

In addition, Prime Minister Morrison noted the need for secure, resilient, and diverse supply chains – especially for rare earths, critical materials and critical technologies.

Global pandemics, COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, and climate change were all listed as international challenges requiring international collaboration.

Speaking to climate change, the Prime Minister noted that “Australia is on the pathway to net zero.” 

“Our goal is to get there as soon as possible, preferably by 2050. But we will get there through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support, especially in our regions,” he added.

In line with this approach are plans to foster technological partnerships with Germany, the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea.

The Prime Minister spoke to the importance of a business-led recovery – not only at home, but in developing economies. He specifically called for greater infrastructure development and investment in the Indo-Pacific region.

“They should meet real need and deliver sustainable economic benefits. And they should not compromise countries’ resilience or sovereignty,” he said.

He also raised that more work between liberal democracies should be done to tackle debt challenges in developing economies.

Absent this safety net and transparency, our neighbours face obstacles to open economic development and can become vulnerable to debt diplomacy.

The final theme listed around upholding democratic values in our own society, and the corresponding influence that has.

“Liberal democracies will always be most persuasive based on the power of their example, not their pitch or their preaching,” said Prime Minister Morrison.

Following the address, Professor Gordon Flake joined Prime Minister Morrison for a Q&A discussion, which focused on the development of hydrogen capability in Australia. The development of this industry will play a significant role in the transformation of the country’s economy. Australia’s progress to net-zero emissions will be business-led and driven by technological advancements and entrepreneurship. Prime Minister Morrison emphasised that Australia’s regulatory environment will be critical for fostering the development of the hydrogen economy.
To close the event, Madison Byron, a Whadjuk Nyoongar woman and medical student at the University of Western Australia, presented Prime Minister Morrison with a Coolamon she had made before Ashleigh Gillon gave closing remarks.

Now, as the Prime Minister heads to the G7 summit, he will advocate an Australian voice that favours a rules-based order, with an emphasis on the importance of liberal democracies to uphold international norms and values. He will meet face-to-face with various global leaders, including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Photo credit and copyright ©: ‘Csfoto – Christian Sprogoe photographer’.

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