Press conference – New Delhi
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: I’m very pleased to have returned to India and participated in the G20 Summit.
The G20 is such an important body. It represents 85 per cent of global GDP. And that’s why what happened here matters. That matters at home as well. Because we know that inflation is a global problem, and international engagement is part of the solution.
Whether it’s climate change, energy, resources or supply chains, being part of these conversations means that Australia gets to shape the solutions.
Today, I spoke in the G20, one of the sessions, a forum focused on accelerating climate action and reaching global net zero emissions together. It’s important to recognise there is no debate globally about the science of climate change. The science is settled. The debate at these forums is about what actions should be taken, and how the world can move forward together. I spoke with G20 leaders on the pace and scale of global energy transitions and on support for the development of clean energy markets.
On the sidelines of the G20 today, I also marked the 10th anniversary of MIKTA. This brings together, if you like, our medium-size powers, Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkiye, and Australia.
Cooperation at meetings like these is very important. And it was quite a constructive discussion. And I thank President Widodo for the role that he has played as the chair of MIKTA.
In my bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kishida, I discussed the ambitious plans between our countries, including what we’re doing with the Reciprocal Access Agreement. That’s about increased engagement interoperability of our defence forces going forward. I hosted the naval leaders of Japan, India, Australia, and the United States recently in Sydney, as part of Operation Malabar. We also discussed the plan when our country is not just about existing energy, but new energy as well, going forward. And that was a very constructive discussion.
On the sidelines, I have also had discussions with the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, last night, as well as Rishi Sunak last night about AUKUS. The discussion with the European Commission was about advancing the Australia-European Free Trade Agreement, and whether we can get that completed this year.
I also had discussions with leaders from Singapore, Argentina, the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, and South Africa. In addition to that, I thanked President Jokowi today for taking up the request from Australia that we fast track the approval, again, of our cattle exports to Indonesia. This was an issue about lumpy skin disease. We have provided evidence that Australia is lumpy skin disease free. That ban was lifted in Malaysia a few days ago, and then it was lifted yesterday. This is an important industry for Australia. When you have, it’s not like you can find a replacement market straightaway, so it was really important to be resolved quickly. And I thank Indonesia for that. It’s another example of the practical results that come from building relationships with people. And President Widodo and I certainly have a very positive relationship. And I was very pleased.
Can I congratulate Prime Minister Modi and India for guiding the G20 to deliver a consensus Leaders’ Declaration. The Declaration covers important global economic issues which require coordination by this group of major economies, including action on climate change in energy, including a commitment to global peaking by 2025, and tripling renewable energy technology capacity, multilateral development bank reform to better support sustainable development and action on climate change, including for the countries in our region. The strongest messaging yet from the G20 on achieving gender equality. And that has been a real theme of this afternoon’s second session of the G20 meeting.
Importantly, the G20 has delivered a strong consensus message on Russia’s war on Ukraine. That message is very strong language and it is the strongest language yet to be agreed by the international community. Very clear statements like – we highlighted the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine, with regard to global food and energy security supply chains, macro financial stability, inflation and growth, which is complicated, the policy environment for countries. A backdrop of this G20 has been the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the impact it’s having on the global economy, on food security, as well as obviously the devastating impact of this war on the people of Ukraine. Speaker after speaker reiterated the need for Russia to stop this war which it can do today, and the need to make sure that action was clearly heard. Time for a couple of questions.
JOURNALIST: What’s your justification for taking these international meetings, very important Summit, during a once-in-a-generation referendum campaign? Some Indigenous leaders are disappointed, you’ve had to leave Parliament during the debate and campaign period.
PRIME MINISTER: This is a G20 meeting of the world’s 20 leading economies. Australia needs to be represented here. I’ve made it very clear that I’ll continue to do my job as the Australian Prime Minister. Whether it’s dealing with cost-of-living pressures, we continue to engage day after day. Next week when we’re back, there’ll be further announcements, I’m speaking at an energy security forum next Friday. I’ll continue to engage on economic, social and environmental issues. We have passed legislation on the referendum that will take place. But Australia has to have a seat at the table. One in four Australian jobs is dependent upon trade. I make no apologies for being engaged, because it’s important that Australia has a seat at the table, because it impacts on the living standards of Australians.
JOURNALIST: Strong, strong words on Ukraine, as strong as it has been you said. But was it a bit of a compromise in there to get the agreement by saying that they acknowledge that not everyone has the same views?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that’s just a fact that given that Russia has been a part of this agreement, I think it’s an extraordinarily strong statement, from the world at this G20 meeting. Russia has to have gotten the message, that this is having a devastating impact, and that the world wants this war to stop. Because of the impact on the people of Ukraine, but also because of the impact that it’s having on global inflation, global economies. And it wasn’t just individual nation states, but the major organ international organisations, as well, all referenced, the impact that this war is having.
JOURNALIST: Just continuing on that, it’s not just the acknowledgement of different things in this statement. President Putin and President Xi can not turn up to the G20 and still get this statement watered down. So that it says that people should refrain from the use of force, and you’re only highlighting the suffering rather than condemning or demanding that they stop. What’s the point?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think it is a very strong statement which is there, given that there’s a consensus around it from the G20. It is the strongest statement that has ever been made, which includes Russia, one of the countries that have agreed to this statement going out. It makes it very clear about the sovereignty, about UN resolutions, that says this, we call on all states to uphold the principles of international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability. It’s called for the peaceful resolution of conflict. I think it is a very strong statement.
PRIME MINISTER: You’ve spoken about the change to renewable energy, the statement commits tripling of renewable energy. But at the same time you said you’ve spoken with Prime Minister Kishida around energy stability. What reassurances did you give him about Australia’s reliability as a provider of gas, and how does that gel with this switch to renewable energy?
PRIME MINISTER: Australia is a reliable energy partner. Part of the transition is gas. We’ve made our position very clear on that. Gas will play an important role in stabilising energy grids, as we move to more use of renewables.
JOURNALIST: On the EU FTA, the view is, if you don’t do it by Christmas, because the EU elections, there won’t be a deal for a long time, if at all. Two parts. What indication did Miss von der Leyen give you on the prospect of a deal before Christmas, and will you be pushing that with President Macron, who you’re going to meet after this press conference?
PRIME MINISTER: I will raise this issue with President Macron this evening. I raised it with Chancellor Scholz as well as a strong supporter of the Australia EU Free Trade Agreement. It is something that I raised with him in Berlin, and I raised it with him again here. With President Macron, that will be one of the issues that we will discuss. But Ursula von der Leyen was quite positive, but we will wait and see the issues, and our officials have continued to have discussions. But I would like to see the Australia EU Free Trade Agreement settled as soon as possible. It’s quite clear with the timetables that are there, that the prospects of that being done are much greater this year than next year, because it does run into elections. But Australia will only sign off, as myself and Don Farrell, the Minister for Trade, has said, if it is in Australia’s national interest. Now, what was on the table previously, it didn’t fulfil that criteria in the Government’s view. Senator Farrell was there negotiating. He actually went to Brussels to try to get it completed. So, Australia’s position has been made very clear, that we won’t sign up to an agreement for the sake of having an agreement. We’ll sign up to an agreement that is in Australia’s national interest. And what’s more, we believe that you can get an agreement because trade is good for both parties. That is in Australia’s national interest and in the interests of the European Union. It’s a major market. We are major democracies. And democracies need to trade and engage with each other. One of the ways that we strengthen our respective systems is to have strong economic relations. Thanks.