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Television Interview - Flashpoint WA

Doorstop – San Francisco | Prime Minister of Australia

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: I’ve just met with the Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. And it was a constructive meeting, in which I spoke about the $5 billion announcement that’s been made, of investment by Microsoft in Australia, the largest investment that they’ve made in a country like Australia for the entire period that they’ve been in existence. We spoke also about the cooperation that will occur between Microsoft with the Australian Signals Directorate. In addition to that, we have a further announcement today, which is a decision that we’ve made to explore the safe and responsible use of generative artificial intelligence in the Australian Public Service in partnership with Microsoft through the Digital Transformation Agency.

The Government will conduct a six month trial of Microsoft 365 Copilot. Making Australia, one of the first governments in the world to deploy generative AI services. The Digital Transformation Agency will be able to trial new and controlled ways to innovate and enhance productivity to deliver better government services for the Australian people. Importantly, as well, will be the training component. We need to scale up Australia’s workforce for the technologies of the future, so that we can help to create the jobs of the future. And that’s what this is about. And it is a very exciting period. We’ll run it from January through to the 30th of June next year. So we’ve been talking with Microsoft about this announcement. That is very important.

At a time of global uncertainty, it is important that I’m here at APEC. APEC celebrates some 30 years and APEC is, of course, an Australian creation, along with Japan. We recognise that the creation of an economic forum for economies in our region is so important. And all of these economies, our major trading partners, are here. One in four of Australian jobs depends upon our trade. And an enormous proportion of that trade is represented here at APEC. So I was very pleased to accept President Biden’s invitation to be here. And I know that every government leader from the region is represented here, except I got a text message from Christopher Luxon, who has been unable to, or is still in negotiations with the finalisation (inaudible).

Meetings will take place while I am here including with Prime Minister Trudeau, Prime Minister Shrestha of Thailand who was recently elected with other leaders as well. I look forward to catching up with President Biden and President Xi while I’m here, given the recent meetings that we had. We have formal meetings with Prime Minister Kishida. And with our other major trading partners as well. We also will be catching up with Prime Minister Marape of Papua New Guinea prior to his visit to Australia that will occur next month, where we’re working through improvements in our relationship with PNG. In addition to that, I look forward to catching up with President Widodo of Indonesia. Catching up with him is important. The relationship that we have with Indonesia is, of course, one of our most significant.

So in addition to that, of course, there are businesses represented here as well from the region. Tomorrow, I’ll be catching up with Larry Fink from BlackRock, a major investment in Australia, a major source of job creation in Australia through those investments and catching up with other business leaders. After this in the next little while, I’ll be catching up with the Australian business representatives here as well. In addition to APEC, what occurs here through ABAC is very important.

I will be meeting also tomorrow with Governor Newsom of California, he of course is the host state here in San Francisco. Governor Newsom and I were due to meet at the San Diego meeting earlier this year, he unfortunately contracted COVID at that time, so wasn’t able to be present. But we have an important agreement between Australia and California, a very large economy in its own right, about clean energy technology as well. So this will be a very busy period on the ground over the next not quite two days. But I really look forward to forging new relationships in Australia’s national interest, but also renewing relationships and cementing them as well, with the eye always on Australia’s national interest and Australia’s economic interests, which is what these forums are about, which is why Jim Chalmers was here earlier this week and Don Farrell our Trade Minister is here as well.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I please get your thoughts on the face to face meeting between President Biden and Xi Jinping, this is the first time they’ve met face to face in a year, how significant is that for the region and the world? And would you like to see the revival of regular dialogue between their militaries to provide stability and certainty?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, dialogue is always positive. I’m a firm believer that through dialogue comes understanding. And it’s very positive that President Biden and President Xi have been able to meet. It was fortunate that I was able to have discussions with both of the Presidents about their meeting and about what might be discussed as well when I was in Washington, DC, and when I was in Beijing. It is important. And I stressed this in my speech at the Shangri-La dialogue, and I conveyed to President Xi my view, that military-to-military discussions and dialogue is very important. We need to put in place those mechanisms that are important. Guardrails that were in place, when the two world superpowers were the United States in the Soviet Union. We need guardrails to make sure that we don’t have misunderstandings or miscalculations that could lead to real issues and real conflict. We need to make sure that we put in place things that ensure that that can’t occur. As President Biden has said, it is crucial that strategic competition does not veer into conflict. And that’s what guardrails are about. I welcome the meeting. I welcome finding out the details of what has occurred in those meetings. But in itself, it is a very important step forward.

JOURNALIST: And Prime Minister, could I ask what your message will be to other global leaders about the Middle East conflict? Do we now need to start talking about what the political solution or settlement is, now that the Israeli military campaign is advancing?

PRIME MINISTER: I that will be a topic of discussion. It’s been a topic of discussion with everyone I’ve spoken to in recent times. And the fact that you have some of the world’s leading economies here with various nation leaders, including the United States, of course, plays a pivotal role in the Middle East. And I will be having discussions with our friends in the United States, as I did in Washington, DC about a way forward. We have said very clearly that Israel has a right to defend itself, but how it defends itself matters as well. And we do need to I think, begin to have discussions about what happens in the future in that region, in Gaza. We know that Hamas, is not a potential partner for peace because of their own position. So we need to have those discussions and clearly the international community will have a role to play. Thanks.

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