Doorstop - The Cenotaph, Sydney

11 Nov 2022
Prime Minister
: Remembrance Day; Travel to international summits; Relationship with China; Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine; Medibank hacks

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: It’s been a great honour for me to be here today for the Remembrance Day commemorations. We must always remember the brave men and women who’ve defended our nation at our time of need, who've made the ultimate sacrifice, and today's the day in which Australians do just that. And today's the day, also, that we remember those who didn't come home, but those who have come home with issues that are ongoing, many of which have been identified by the Royal Commission into Veterans Suicide, that is doing its ongoing work. Today is an important day for our nation and I wanted to make sure that I was here this morning, prior to I will go straight to the airport for the visits that I have over the next nine days. Over the next nine days, I will be attending the East Asia Summit; then the G20; and then APEC, in Cambodia; in Indonesia; and in Thailand. This is a time of great global uncertainty. We have rising inflation due to energy prices, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And today is a day where over the next week and a little bit, I will have an opportunity to talk with other leading economies about how we deal with these challenges. In addition to that there's the global challenge of food security, as well as climate change, which is being dealt with at the Conference of the Parties meeting that's ongoing over the next fortnight. In addition to that, we have strategic competition in the region, increased tension, and we want an Indo-Pacific that is peaceful, that is stable, and that is secure. And that will be my objective in both participating in the three forums over the next nine days, but also in the bilateral meetings that I have scheduled with world leaders over that time.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you anticipate you will meet with President Xi and what is needed to repair that relationship?

PRIME MINISTER: What I've said about China is that we want to cooperate where we can, but we will stand up for Australian values where we must. We welcome any dialogue, because out of dialogue comes understanding and mutual respect. So there isn't a meeting at this stage locked in. But we obviously will be attending the same conferences, or at least two of them over the next nine days. And I would welcome a meeting if it occurs over that time.

JOURNALIST: Are there concerns that the relationship between Australia and China is fractured?

PRIME MINISTER: Quite clearly there have been issues with the relationship. We have some $20 billion of economic sanctions against Australia. That is not in Australia's interest in terms of our jobs and the economy, but it's also not in China's interest. Australia has world class products – in seafood, in meat, in wine, in other products that we export to China. It’s in China's interest to receive those products, it's in Australia's interest to export them. So I'm very hopeful, we'll continue to put our case that these sanctions are not justified, that they need to be removed. But we will enter any discussions that take place without any preconditions. Dialogue is a good thing if it occurs. If not, well we'll be having of course some multilateral participation in the forums that will take place over the next nine days.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what’s informed your decision to attend the Sydney service today instead of the Canberra one?

PRIME MINISTER: Practicalities, to be frank, re the distance that the C130 can take without having a stop is the honest answer to that question. But I wanted to make sure that I would attend a ceremony, either in Canberra at the National World War Memorial that I've done in the past, or here in Sydney. The important thing is to be present, to show my respect and my support for the men and women in our armed forces.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will Ukraine feature on the agenda over the next few days? How important is it at these world summits that we don’t neglect the war in Ukraine?

PRIME MINISTER: Ukraine will feature undoubtedly. Part of the backdrop of these summits is the consequences of the Russian illegal invasion of Ukraine, not just for human rights and for the tragedies that are occurring on a day-by-day basis, to both Ukrainians and Russians as a result of this military conflict, which is illegal, and which is unnecessary, but it's having a global impact on the economy. Inflation is rising here in Australia, like around the world, as a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the pressure that has put on global energy prices. Russia needs to get the message that it is isolated amongst those who support the international rule of law, and it should withdraw. I pay tribute to the courage of the people of Ukraine in defending their sovereignty, in defending their right to exist as a democratic nation, and one that's free from the sort of foreign interference that we have seen. Now, perhaps if I'm asked about Medibank, I was expecting to be asked.

JOURNALIST: Can you give us an update on Medibank?

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. I have spoken to the Australian Federal Police this morning, about the further information that has been disclosed. Let me say this, I am disgusted by the perpetrators of this criminal act. And I've certainly authorised the AFP Commissioner later today, to disclose where these attacks are coming from. We know where they're coming from, we know who is responsible, and we say that they should be held to account. The AFP Commissioner will be saying more today, but the fact is that the nation where these attacks are coming from, should also be held accountable for the disgusting attacks, and the release of information including very private and personal information. I say to those people who are distressed by this disclosure, we stand with you at this time, I also would ask all of the media, and indeed all Australians to not incentivise this behaviour by disclosing any of the information that has been put online or on the dark web. We need to stand with each other at a time like this, against this behaviour, and not incentivise it. And I would call upon all media organisations to behave in a way that their fellow Australians would expect of them. Thank you very much.