Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Remarks at Australian Embassy

17 January 2016

Kabul, Afghanistan

Prime Minister

E&OE

AMBASSADOR MATT ANDERSON:

Allow me to just briefly welcome you to the Australian Embassy in Kabul and your team, the CDF, and your senior Advisers. It’s really important to us, as an Embassy, and as Australia’s presence in Afghanistan, to have this high level attention to give us all an opportunity to remind ourselves about what it is that we are doing here in the national interest. You’re busy people, you have come a long way to be here, so I just want to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Embassy, to introduce you to, what I think, are the most accomplished bunch of people I have had the pleasure to work with in DFAT in 21 years. They just get the job done. They don’t have a bad day. They put up with an awful lot from me in particular, but they are very, very good people. So I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your time, thank your staff, but also for my staff. Just to look around the room, you know, the Prime Minister is here because the work we do matters. It’s as simple as that. So just take that as a shot in the arm, it’s good for us, it’s good for Australia. It’s fantastic for the bilateral relationship. We have a busy few hours, a few crowded hours ahead of us, but it is a really important chance for us just to recalibrate, to reset, to think about what it is that we do here in the national interest, and what we do together as a team. So on behalf of team Australia PM, welcome.

PRIME MINISTER: 

Thank you. Well, thank you very much. Can I just say to you, can I just echo what the Ambassador said - the work you do here is of enormous importance as you know. I want to thank you very much for what you’re doing representing Australia, representing Australia so admirably, so professionally. Our whole effort in Afghanistan is of critical importance to Afghanistan’s future. I have just been out at the academy, at Qargha, where we are helping train the leaders of the Afghan National Army, the leaders of the future. That is of critical importance. Afghanistan needs to continue to build its capacity to be able to secure itself, that’s the goal. So our mission is to support and assist the Afghan Government, the Afghan people, to that end. Whether that is in the humanitarian side or the building capacity side, it’s all with the same end, to ensure that Afghanistan becomes stronger, more secure, more prosperous, and is able to develop an environment and a society where people are better able to achieve their goals, whatever area of endeavour they want to undertake. So this is a thoroughly supportive role. A lot of people would say, or could say, ‘why is Australia taking such an interest in Afghanistan, why have we done so - it is after all a long way from Australia? The truth is that in 2016, nowhere is a long way from anywhere. The world is so connected. More than it has ever been before. It is absolutely critical that we recognise that security is a global issue. Global security has to be addressed by global action. So that’s why it is so good that we have so many countries here with ISAF and now with [inaudible] support, working together again to support the Afghan Government. Because a more secure Afghanistan, a more prosperous Afghanistan, an Afghanistan which is getting on with the job of building, of enabling people to build their lives, and build their prosperity for their children and grandchildren. That makes the world safer, and it makes Australia safer, and indeed the United Kingdom, New Zealand safer, the countries whose personnel we were meeting with out at Qargha today. So thank you again for everything that you’re doing and we look forward to having a more informal chat and happy to take any questions that you’d like to address. So thank you very much.