Doorstop Interview - Tokyo, Japan

25 May 2022
Tokyo, Japan
Prime Minister
Quad Leaders’ Summit; climate change; Albanese Ministry; importance of Australia’s international relationships

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much. I was very keen to ensure that Australia was represented here at the Quad to send a message to our partners in the United States, Japan and India, that Australia continues to be strong supporters of the Quad, that the Quad Leaders’ Summit represents our common purpose, our common purpose in supported democracy, in support of peace and security in the region, in the support of the rule of law.

And we had important discussions here yesterday about the situation in Ukraine and Russia's unilateral, illegal, immoral aggression against the people of Ukraine. We also had a discussion about the nature of the region, making sure that we reach out to other countries, including engaging with the ASEAN nations here in going forward with our common views. I was particularly warmed with the reception that I had at the bilateral meetings.

I renewed my acquaintance with President Biden. And I appreciate his invitation to visit Washington soon. President Biden, the United States, is our most important ally. Australia will continue to develop a strong working relationship with the US administration. And in particular, we talked about improving our engagement and our mutual position with regard to climate change and the need for global action. There are many consistencies in Australia's national security positions, but there are some differences with the former Australian Government particularly when it comes to climate change. And the new Government that I lead, its position was welcomed by the leaders of the United States, Japan, and India. And I look forward to going forward and building those relationships.

With Prime Minister Modi, we also had very constructive discussions. I have visited India both as a backpacker, but also as a leader of Parliamentary delegation. I was pleased that Prime Minister Modi invited me to visit India soon as well. We will work on some dates there. The relationship with India, which will grow to be the third largest economy in the world in coming years, is a very important one for Australia. And the diaspora in Australia is, of course, a growing one as well. We talked about the potential for education exchange, particularly the potential for Australian universities taking advantage of the changed position of India and co-locating in India serving both students locally based in India, who could spend some time in their home country of India studying at Australian-based universities and then, perhaps, complete half of their degree as well in Australia. I think that's an exciting proposal from the Prime Minister and one which is a benefit to both our nations.

To Prime Minister Kishida, I just think he was an extraordinary host of this Quad Leaders’ Summit. I very much look forward to working with the Prime Minister on issues, including on national security issues and defence cooperation. The Prime Minister will visit Australia later this year. We discussed potential programs and some initiatives that could arise from that Leaders' Summit, which is an annual event between Australia and Japan.

Australia, next year, will host the Quad Leaders’ Summit. That will be an opportunity to welcome the leaders of the United States, Japan, and India to Australia and will be an important event. The Quad is an important body. It has been an extraordinary opportunity, which is why we put in place, through Prime Minister and Cabinet, the arrangements to ensure the early swearing in of the first Albanese Ministry, a smaller one than the one that will be sworn in next week. I will return to Australia and I look forward to engaging again with domestic issues, in doing work on the structure and personnel in the incoming Government in the days ahead. Our Caucus and processes will take place early next week. But I think it's a positive way to start a new Government.

I want to take the opportunity as well to thank the professionalism of the departments, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, our Department of Defence and others, who worked in circumstances whereby they weren't sure who would be coming. Other arrangements were to be put in place if there was an uncertain outcome of the Saturday election.

I do want to conclude with thanking the Australian people for giving me this extraordinary honour of representing Australia at important international forums. I will always act with integrity. I will always act with honesty in my dealings with other leaders and our friends and partners. And I will do my best each and every day, whether it be on domestic or international issues, including the need to act on climate change, to make sure that Australia will have a Government that they can be proud of. Thanks very much.