Doorstop - Osaka, Japan

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29 Jun 2019
Osaka, Japan
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his presidency of the G20. As I said earlier this week in Sydney, Prime Minister Abe is not just an outstanding leader in his own country, but he is deeply respected as one of the… our region’s, but in the world's, real statespersons and he has done an extraordinary job here which is not surprising. Shinzo Abe is a great friend of Australia. And it was in that spirit that I particularly want to thank him for the opportunity that he gave to us following the terrible terrorist attacks in Christchurch, that we were able to bring forward the proposal for the statement that was agreed by all G20 countries today. That wouldn't have been possible if that opportunity hadn't been extended to us by Prime Minister Abe, and so I'm very grateful for that. And at a meeting where there were many other issues, obviously, he understood the importance of this in the context of the many other things we're pursuing. And so I'm very pleased that we were able to achieve that. I've already been in contact with Prime Minister Ardern, who was very pleased to hear that has taken place and it sends a very clear message, I think, to those companies that have created what are remarkable technologies - technologies that are changing the world for the better. At the G20 we affirmed how important that was, and that we want to see all of that continue and that we are for an open web. And we are for all of those things but we cannot allow these new tools to become deadly in the hands as weapons of terrorists. And that position is understood. I think the way we have pursued this was to keep it very focused on what it was trying to achieve. We didn't broaden it out. This was about simply trying to ensure that we all were agreed that the internet should not become a weapon of terrorists. And this sends a clear message, and the impetus of this is to say to the companies, ‘You have the technology, you have the innovation, you have the resources, and now you have the clear communicated will of the world's leaders that you need to apply that to get this right.’

Now, Australia has completed its first stage of its Taskforce report which we will be releasing shortly. I'll be sharing that with the other G20 members, purely for their information. I think there are some very good suggestions about what they might want to consider, and certainly it is what Australia is considering and implementing, and we've taken action with our existing legislation and I think this provides the right framework now. Global leadership, domestic action. It's now up to them to take their actions to protect not only all Australian citizens, but citizens all around the world from the internet being used in this way.

At the broader G20 meeting, we're pleased that both China and United States this afternoon were able to regather the ground that had been lost since Buenos Aires. That's very welcome, and I'm hopeful, based on what they've expressed after that meeting, that they can now take that forward. There's obviously a lot at stake. I'm pleased that that was acknowledged and understood by China and the United States. Not only I but many, many others have been making exactly the same point in concert. And so I think people leave Osaka pleased that we're able to get to that point.

At the same time, much else what was happening in activity with so many other partners. It was great today to have meetings both with Indonesia, with India, with Vietnam, and of course the EU. I mean, we just don't stand still while the major two biggest powers in the world sit and have their conversations. We get on with what we're doing. And that meeting with the EU, very important this morning. We’ve really pushed on the timetable there, elevating our relationship with Vietnam, re-commencing the work with both India and Indonesia after all of our elections, and we can just get on with that and those relationships couldn't be better. The only thing, I think, that Prime Minister Modi and I disagreed on was who was going to win the World Cup and our positions on that were entirely predictable.

JOURNALIST: Sorry, just on the social media front. You’ve expressed your view. What concrete actions do you now expect from the social media companies?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, exactly what I said. To use their algorithms, to use their technology, to use their investments through the GIF CT Organisation to increase its resources. And so there was greater collaboration and standards across these platforms, which prevent the uploading of this material, which prevent its sharing, and which identifies and ensures its removal.

JOURNALIST: How big a coup is this for Australia and for your personally that you were able to do this?

PRIME MINISTER: It is not about Australia or about me at all, it is about the victims of the Christchurch terror attack, and we all remember that day. I know I do, and I think it was the most practical thing that, as cousins of New Zealand, that we could do. We attend this forum, this was something we could do, not just for New Zealand, but for Australia as well. We’re all at similar risk, and so it was just simply Australia acting in accordance with our responsibility.

JOURNALIST: On trade, Prime Minister, is it your understanding that the US has given an undertaking not to proceed with the next round of tariff increases, and what sort of practical reliefs does that buy Australia’s economy and others in the region, if that is the case?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I have seen the same statements as you have, and they are the statements as I understand them. In our press conference yesterday, I put it in fairly mathematical terms - it is the difference between the 3.6 per cent global growth and 3.1 percent global growth, and that is significant. So I thank also the IMF for informing the G20. They do outstanding work and we thank them for that, because I think that provided the right context for the discussion. And so as I said yesterday, one in five Australian jobs is related to trade. That is what it is about. Having modern rules that support trade, having modern rules that mean that people go and invest in companies that trade overseas, develop new markets, support new products, put the investment in, take the risks. You're not going to take that risk going beyond Australian shores, if you're not sure about the arrangements you have to deal with and the rules that are going to apply. You want those rules to be certain, and so this increases certainty, which encourages investment, which creates jobs.

JOURNALIST: But isn’t the outcome of this meeting on trade, Mr Xi and Mr Trump, more of the same? Therefore aren’t we still on track for the 3.1 per growth, instead of the 3.6 per cent?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, no, their assessment was based on the implementation of those additional tariff measures, that is what brought it down to 3.1 per cent, that is the difference. So look, it is a moving situation, you always in these environments are seeking to get the better outcome. And I think there is a better outcome, or certainly a better outcome than I anticipated and indeed, the participants in the bilateral relationship would expect as well.

JOURNALIST: Did you get a moment with Vladimir Putin at all, even for a moment, to pressure him over MH17?


JOURNALIST: Was that a disappointment, were you hoping to do that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we are pursuing that matter directly with the Netherlands through the proper legal process and we are not backing off that one inch. And the Netherlands Prime Minister will be out in Australia later this year. I had many discussions with Mark about that, and we are as one.

JOURNALIST: We supported the British and others when they… over the Salisbury incident, the poisoning incident by expelling diplomats. Are you seeking, or are others in your ministry, seeking support from our like-minded allies like the US, the UK, to take similar measures against Russia, to pressure them over MH17?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the channel we're working down at the moment is the legal channel we’re doing with the Netherlands and that is our focus right now.

JOURNALIST: Just on the EU trade deal, it was meant to be fast tracked, it was meant to be completed before the change of the Commission, the President, which is taking place. You hoped to have that concluded by the end of the year, is that likely to happen or is that a bit ambitious given that there is now political change taking place in Brussels?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we should be ambitious about it, and we are being ambitious about it. We are going to work to an ambitious timeframe on it. Those changes may not see personnel changes until quite late this year, and so that does provide a window of opportunity and it is a window we hope to walk through.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Alek Sigley’s family and can you can give us an idea of what is happening behind the scenes to find him?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I will just be measured in what I say, because that is all about using the best opportunities we have right now to inform ourselves about where Alek is and what his safety is and where he is being held and in what conditions. I have had direct contact with the family. I do not really want to go more in to it than that. But my concern is simply for his welfare, and I have had this discussion with numerous leaders over the last few days. They have come up to me, I have gone up to them, and we have had nothing but overwhelming support and offers of cooperation and assistance to be able to both locate where Alek is, and then to be able to take what actions we can to bring him home.

JOURNALIST: With Mr Trump going to the DMZ tomorrow, Is an opportunity for the Americans to make some representations on the Australian Government’s behalf?

PRIME MINISTER: All I would say, Mark, is that we're going to work with everybody to secure Alek's safety. And the best way we can do that is doing it quietly, effectively, working with our partners. This is not allowing this to be taken up into other agendas, it is not about that. It is simply, to me, about Alek's safety.

JOURNALIST: Back on the EU trade deal, can you just go through what are some of the last remaining sticking points there? Is it still the geographical…?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the GI is a significant issue and we are dealing with that right now. And then there is a process of receiving a market access proposal, and we set out pretty clearly today what our expectations are about the ambitions of that. And we're making progress.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what do you make of Japan's plans to resume commercial whaling on Monday?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, Japan is well aware of our position on this, and we’ve communicated that before. I have communicated that to Prime Minister Abe.

JOURNALIST: During this trip?

PRIME MINISTER: I welcome the fact that they are not doing anything in the Southern Ocean now, that is a welcome development. I am not going to allow our relationship with Japan to be defined by this issue. This is actually an issue that had been addressed in our previous bilateral, and has been an action that has been in the works for some time, both their commitment to withdraw from where they are, what they were doing in the Southern Ocean and what they will continue to do now. They are aware of our objections. But I must say, I'm not going to allow it to  define our relationship.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, did you speak to President Widodo about the next steps of your… deepening that relationship?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely we did, and we’re both very excited about it. Obviously the next step is to have ratification of [inaudible] which we're both working to do. We’ll do that over the course of this parliamentary year, in what will be a very packed legislative program from here to the end the year, beginning on Tuesday with tax cuts.

JOURNALIST: On trade, is it possible to say that Australian jobs are safer as a consequence of the outcome of this meeting?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, I would, I would. Because of what the alternative was. I mean, these things always have to be assessed against what the alternative track is. The alternative track, coming into this meeting, was far less positive than the one I think we have emerged with, and that is welcome. Is there a lot more to do? Of course there is, and what particularly I am pleased about is we have set up a whole range of new opportunities. I’m particularly excited about opportunities with Vietnam. I will be there in August, and there is a real enthusiasm both from the Vietnamese side and ours to elevate that partnership. I mean, they are a country that is going through rapid development, and that comes with some wobbles and it comes with the need to support and our (inaudible) programme is actually designed to increase their ability to enable their growth, to implement their agreements, and so we are for a prosperous, successful Vietnam and that will be in our interest too. So I’m excited about that. The India relationship is a really positive one, there is a real axis, I think, between India, Indonesia and ourselves. We are very plugged in - India and ourselves - to what is happening in ASEAN and want to see that continue. Australia is a good friend of ASEAN, we’re a good friend to these countries and this meeting has been a great opportunity to both refresh and reinforce all of those relationships, including those with our great and powerful friends. Thanks very much.