Doorstop

Transcript
07 Jul 2017
Hamburg, Germany
Prime Minister
G20 meeting, Australian-German relations, North Korea, free trade, global terrorism, Paris Agreement, encryption
E&OE
International and Trade, Defence and National Security

PRIME MINISTER:

Well good afternoon and Mathias and I and our party have just had a very valuable meeting with the Chancellor, discussing the progress of the G20.

An enormous amount of work has gone into this great gathering of the 20 largest economies in the world. 

My focus here today, and the focus of all of us here, is to ensure that we continue to defend the collective security of all of the nations represented here today, in the face against terrorism and other threats to the peaceful world order.

I believe there is a strong common commitment to collaborate more, to engage more, to cooperate more in the fight against terrorism and we’ll see that coming out of the G20 discussions tomorrow.

We obviously have a great deal to discuss about trade to ensure that we maintain free and open markets in the world today, on which our economy and our economic growth and the opportunity of Australians depend.

We’ve had some very good discussions about a range of other issues as well, the developments on the Korean Peninsula are of great concern. The reckless and provocative actions, the latest escalation by the North Korean regime has been condemned by all of the nations gathering here today in Hamburg and we will see a strong commitment to condemn and strengthen, I have no doubt, the sanctions have already being applied to the North Korean regime.

But a very good discussion with the Chancellor - I have to say and I must give Mathias Cormann great credit for this. The bilateral relationship between Australia and Germany has never been stronger. The work that Mathias did with the Australia-German Advisory Group - we have a great Ambassador here in Lynette Wood.

You can see that at every level, economic cooperation in terms of innovation and science in particular is getting stronger and stronger. So every time I’ve met with the Chancellor it is – you can see the relationship is getting deeper, stronger, warmer, more cooperation – it’s very good.

Very, very good prospects I believe for Australia and Germany now and in the years to come.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister on North Korea, the President, US President Trump has said he is contemplating some very severe steps because of its very, very bad behavior. Are you aware what those steps might be?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I wouldn’t speculate on that. I think the situation is clear and I’ll just recap what I’ve said before.

The actions by the North Korean regime are illegal, they are dangerous, they’re a provocation and they’ve been escalating them. The nation with the greatest leverage over North Korea is China.

We recognise that North Korea is not a compliant client state of China like East Germany was to the old Soviet Union, so the relationship between China and North Korea is not without its difficulties. But the fact is China has the greatest leverage and of course we urge China to bring more pressure, more economic pressure in particular, to bear on North Korea to bring that regime to its senses.

JOURNALIST:

But talking about military action is completely inappropriate, shouldn’t it be clearly done in diplomatic and economic terms rather than talking tough on the military action?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about it. The reality is that China has the greatest – by far – overwhelmingly the greatest economic leverage over North Korea, and we urge China to work with the rest of the global community, but above all to lead by taking stronger action to bring that regime to its senses.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just on that front there has been some talk in the United States about trade sanctions against China, against particularly Chinese banks, if they are seen to be continuing to fund North Korea. Would you support any kind of move like that, trade sanctions against Chinese entities?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again I’m not going to speculate or get into hypotheticals.

We are a party to and of course support the sanctions imposed by the United Nations and we also have autonomous sanctions of our own against North Korean entities and individuals.

But we will work cooperatively through the United Nations and taking measured steps autonomously, but focused on bringing the economic pressure to bear on North Korea to bring that regime to its senses without conflict.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister if there were any military action against North Korea do you think it would have to be United Nations sanctioned or given the prospect that Russia and China don’t support that, is there a prospect of unilateral action?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Phil I’m not going to speculate about a security situation as tense as that on the Korean Peninsula.

Everybody’s goal is to ensure that the North Korean regime as I’ve said is brought to its senses, that it stops this reckless escalation so that the peace of the region is no longer threatened by its conduct.

JOURNALIST:

You emphasised the importance of China, China and Russia for that matter now argue that the US has a responsibility to deescalate this partly by reducing or stopping trading in South Korea in the region, has China got a point?

PRIME MINISTER:

The actions by the North Korean regime have not been provoked, they are not justified, they are illegal and they have been universally condemned.

JOURNALIST:

China has no point?

PRIME MINISTER:

The actions of the North Korean regime have been correctly and appropriately condemned by all the nations here gathered and of course we condemn them. This is a reckless path of provocation and escalation which North Korea must cease and we call on all the nations with leverage – and China has the most and that is a fact. That is just a fact of life, fact of geography and history – it has the greatest leverage and therefore the greatest responsibility.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister when you meet the President of Indonesia tomorrow and the Prime Minister of Vietnam and bilaterals what will your message on North Korea be? Secondly, will you be meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I will be meeting all the leaders including Donald Trump of course, and the great benefit of gatherings like this is in the more informal encounters, rather than – the formal bilaterals are very important too, but there’s only a limited number of those obviously – but the informal encounters and meetings I think of my experience has been they are of the greatest value.

In terms of the meetings, the formal bilaterals with Vietnam and Indonesia, the message that I will convey on North Korea is precisely the message I have conveyed today and the message I’ve conveyed previously.

JOURNALIST:

Chancellor Merkel has raised concerns about the United States approach to globalisation being a matter of winners and losers rather than working towards cooperation between nations, do you share the concerns about the US’s protectionist approach?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’ll speak for Australia, we are committed to free trade and open markets. Australia has been a very, very big beneficiary of free trade in our region. Over the last four years we’ve succeeded in reaching agreement on a number of big free trade deals, as you know with China, with Korea and Japan an enhanced deal with Singapore and we are working on opening more markets all the time. Barnaby has been here in Europe and Mathias has been here in Europe as well working on the European Australian Free Trade Agreement. Chancellor Merkel again gave her support to that in our meeting today.

We’ve had Julie Bishop and Steve Ciobo in Latin America talking about free trade agreements in that region. The more markets we can open up for Australian exports the better.

So that’s our commitment, I’m speaking for Australia. I am not representing anybody else here, representing Australia’s interests and I know that our best interest to serve by more markets for more Australian exports, that’s our goal.

JOURNALIST:

The first meeting tomorrow is on terror, it’s a closed session for leaders.

PRIME MINISTER:  

Yes – that’s right.

JOURNALIST:

Can you talk us through what you will be raising, on the closed meeting tomorrow on Australia’s part?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the counterterrorism effort is a global one, the threat of Islamist terrorism is global. Nowhere is far away from anywhere else, so the more collaboration, the more intelligence sharing the better, the more action to stop the financing of terrorist organisations, all of that has to be advanced.

Areas that have been of particular focus and that Chancellor Merkel has spoken about and Prime Minister May and I have both spoken about as well in recent times relates to the internet. There should be no ungoverned space on the internet and so we will be seeking to secure stronger cooperation from the big internet companies, whether it’s the big messaging companies like WhatsApp and Telegram and others or the big social media applications like Facebook.

We need more cooperation to prevent the internet being used as a vehicle for spreading terrorist propaganda and violent extremist propaganda. But also we need more assistance to ensure that the higher and higher levels of encryption are not being used to conceal terrorists and criminals.

JOURNALIST:

Do you need G20 cooperation on something like that to have big countries, particularly the United States, on board?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah you need – with all of these things, David, you need international cooperation.

I mean the one thing that is very clear in a digital age, as I said, nowhere is far away from anywhere else and you know the fact that we’re all here and you’re no doubt sort of streaming this live onto the internet with your iPhone, I mean it tells you what’s happening doesn’t it? You need to have the strongest cooperation in this digital age and there cannot be an ungoverned space online. The law must prevail everywhere.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you’re staying the same hotel as Vladimir Putin, what would you say if you ran into him in the lift?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well depending on the time of day I might say dobry den, dobry vecher no I would say – I look forward – I have met with Mr Putin before on several occasions in fact and you know we have a lot to discuss.

We’ve discussed in the past most notably the situation in Syria and how a resolution to that terrible conflict can be achieved.

JOURNALIST:

Donald Trump in Poland has said that Russia is involved in destabilising activity and it should join the community of responsible nations. Do you think Russia is outside the community of responsible nations at the moment? Is that useful language ahead of a summit?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, you write the commentary as I look forward to meeting with the leaders here tomorrow and going through all of those issues.

JOURNALIST:

Are you pleased at least to hear Donald Trump recommit to NATO?

PRIME MINISTER:

NATO is a vital element in global security.

JOURNALIST:

Do you want a strong [inaudible] on support for the Paris Agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well certainly, Australia is a party to and supports and is complying with our commitments under the Paris Agreements.

JOURNALIST:

PM, on encryption someone said to me recently there is strong libertarian traditions on the left and on the right that make it difficult to get the US over the line in terms of tougher laws cracking down on WhatsApp-

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that might’ve been me actually.

[Laughter]

JOURNALIST:

How do you get around it?

JOURNALIST:

Because given it’s such a great quote would you like to [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is real challenge James, it’s no doubt about that but the fact of the matter is that we need to ensure that the rule of law prevails and we cannot allow the internet to become an ungoverned space where criminals and terrorists are able to hide from the law and the obligation of governments is to do everything in their power to keep their people safe and at a gathering like this, at a time where there are many threats to global security from terrorism as we’ve discussed. From the reckless and dangerous actions of North Korea which we’ve also discussed we need the 20 largest economies of the world to pull together and support each other in delivering the security that all of our citizens deserve and are entitled to expect from their leaders.

So on that note thank you all very much.

[ENDS]