Press Conference - 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom

15 Jun 2021
Prime Minister

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Good morning, everybody. Thank you very much for joining us, and I'm absolutely delighted to welcome my friend Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, to Number 10. Well, we've been having in the last couple of days, and Scott was also of course in Carbis Bay for the G7, we’ve been talking a lot about our partnership, our relationship, which is, as you can imagine, intensifying, between Australia and the UK. We’ve talked just now, we talked a lot about what we’re doing together on defence, working together on our security, which share common perspectives, what the UK is doing to open up and expand our diplomatic presence in the Pacific. And I remind you that we’re [inaudible], the Union Flag is going up in six high commissions in Port Vila in Vanuatu, in Apia in Samoa, [inaudible] and Tonga. We talked about climate change and the shared ambition we have to have a fantastic COP26 summit in November to reduce global emissions, the cleantech partnership that we’re working on. We talked about the Rugby World Cup, we talked about also the Rugby League World Cup, and all sorts of things.

But of course we came to a conclusion of a long-running negotiation on a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia, and even before we began negotiations you will recollect that the volume of trade, the exports between our countries, have been quite extraordinary. We already sell cars, we sell whisky, I’m proud to say to Australia, we sell boomerangs to Australia, of the non-returnable variety. And now, thanks to this deal, we hope that there will be even more trade between the UK and Australia, and the broad outlines of the deal, as you can imagine, is that you give us Tim Tams, we give you Penguins, you give us Vegemite and we give you Marmite. We give you Burberry and Mackintoshes, and you give us RM Williams Japaras. And the idea is that we’ll be able to do even more because we’re taking tariffs off.  So for Northern Ireland, Northern Irish machine tools, this will be good news. It will be good news for British car manufacturers, it would be good news for British services, for British financial services. And it will be good news for, I hope, for agricultural sector on both sides.

And here we’ve had to negotiate very hard. And I want everybody to understand that this is a sensitive sector for both sides, and we've got a deal that runs over 15 years and contains the strongest possible provisions for animal welfare. But I think it is a good deal, and it’s one that, I think, will benefit British farmers and British consumers as well. And also, it will mean that it will make it easier for British people, for young people to go and work in Australia without, I think, having the traditional compulsion of having to go and work on a farm for 80 days, which used to be the rule. I think they, at one point wanted to extend it to 90 days, but that turned out to be the wrong approach to the negotiations. Anyway, but we've got rid of that, we’ve got rid of that. Young people, any people can go and work much more easily in Australia, both ways. There’ll be free exchange of British rent-a-Poms and indeed Australian campaign managers will be able to come more easily to work in this country.

And I think it’s, but more importantly perhaps than all of that, this is the first freestanding free trade deal that the UK has done since Brexit, and it’s also, therefore, a prelude to further deals, and it’s the way in to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the CPTPP, and Liz Truss, our wonderful Trade Secretary, has been working on that for a very long time and I just want to conclude by thanking Liz and her teams, and all your team, for Mr Tehan, as well, for everything that you have done. I congratulate negotiators on both sides on what I think is a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Australia. So thank you very much Scott. Great to see you.

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Well, thank you, Boris. Thank you very much for the invitation to be here today. And can I congratulate you on the G7 Plus, or the D11 as we sometimes call it, and for your leadership of that summit, which really brought together the leaders of the world's biggest advanced economies and liberal democracies, and the esprit de corps that you were able to establish right across the leadership group, and for us to get around the fundamental principles of what we believe in as liberal democracies. I want to commend you for that and we were very pleased to be part of those very important set of discussions that we had in Carbis Bay.

In addition to that, I’d simply note the framework for the trade agreement that we’ve been able to agree here is within the foundation, on the foundation, I’d say, of this broader partnership that Australia and the United Kingdom enjoy. This is a foundational partnership for Australia, as it is for the UK. And everything else we do stems from that relationship. Our cooperation on defence, on strategic issues, our cooperation on science and research, in dealing with technology challenges, to combat climate change, and indeed the economic relationship. Our economies are stronger by these agreements. This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded. The only one which comes into close connection with that is the arrangement we have with New Zealand under the Closer Economic Relationship arrangements we have there. The movement of people, movement of goods, movement of services - this is what underpins the strength of advanced economies and liberal democracies.

And of course there are sensitive areas, and this being the first of the agreements the United Kingdom has put in place, and is putting in place, does then open the pathway to entry into the CPTPP from Australia's perspective, and we will be a champion for that because we want to see the UK making the CPTPP even stronger than it is now. It’s an outstanding arrangement. It’s the most modern multilateral trade agreement in the world today, and to have the United Kingdom as part of that strengthens it, and that’s why we were so keen to come to this arrangement today.

The Prime Minister has mentioned the many issues that we’ve discussed. One other I’d add to that list was mental health, and particularly mental health of young people. In Australia we have an extraordinary program that supports young people with mental health and we’re very keen to work with the UK Government to share that experience, working together on dealing with large multinational media platforms as well. That was a topic of keen discussion and the work that Australia has been doing there, and of course the clean energy technology partnership which we are in the process of finalising as well. Across, whether it’s on beef and sugar, and sheep meat for Australia, which is very important, and we appreciate the very constructive discussions we’ve had and negotiations to complete what is the right deal. I said we would wait for the right deal, Boris, and I think we've got the right deal between UK and Australia. And that just lays the foundation further for the bigger partnership we have on everything from defence to climate change and to deal with the many other big global challenges that liberal democracies face together, and always, UK and Australia will face those together.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Thanks very much, Scott. Let's go quickly to the media. We have Shehab of ITV, then Bevan from The Sydney Morning Herald

JOURNALIST: My first question is to you, Mr Johnson. You’ll be aware of the concerns that British farmers have had about this deal. Have you sold them out by reaching this agreement, or are there safeguards in place to stop British farmers being undercut by cheap imports?

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: There are indeed safeguards. And this goes, there is a 15-year transition period, which is a long time to wait for, if you can imagine, our friends in Australia. The UK joined what was then the Common Market in 1973, and I have to tell you that that was pretty devastating for a lot of farmers in Australia. They committed suicide, some of them, in the face of what happened to Australian agriculture in the 70s when the UK went into the, what was then the Common Market. So we’re opening up to Australia, but we’re doing it in a staggered way and we’re doing it over 15 years. We’re retaining safeguards and making sure that we have protections against sudden influxes of goods, and also making sure that we adhere to the strongest possible standards for animal welfare and, as you can imagine, that’s what the British consumer is going to want.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Morrison, a question for you. As you mentioned, this is the first deal the United Kingdom has negotiated from scratch since leaving the European Union. Why do you think Australia is the country that’s happened with, did your personal relationship with Prime Minister Johnson aid with that? And on top of that, will you be making Australian farmers increase their standards to reach UK standards?

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Australian standards are very high, and we’re well-respected for our standards for animal welfare all around the world. And so we are very confident and very proud of our record when it comes to dealing with animal behaviour, animal cruelty. And, so we set standards in those places. The second point I’d make is, yes, of course, I mean, of course it assists when there is an easy and comfortable relationship between leaders to get through what is often the final stages of these discussions, and it’s the relationship I think that always enables you to overcome any of those last items that need to be resolved in good faith, because, you know, these agreements are based on trust. You have them when you have shared values and you understand what both countries are seeking to achieve in a partnership, and that’s what this is fundamentally about. This is just another very big chapter in the story of Australia and the United Kingdom. And so, you know, that is why I think Australia was the right choice for the United Kingdom to be the first to enter into such an agreement, because if you can do an agreement with your best friends first, then you can have the confidence to be able to deal with the issues that flow from these agreements. We understand, particularly for our agricultural sectors, in both countries, that we will have to demonstrate the real benefits for both countries, and we’ll do that together, to British producers as well as Australian producers, and so that’s what friends do.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Thanks very much Shehab. Let's go to Bevan, Sydney Morning Herald.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Johnson, thanks for your time. You’re ambitious on climate change, and so were G7 leaders at the weekend. The Australian commitment is to cut emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030. Can you tell us, I mean, is that enough? Do you think that’s enough? And should Australians commit to do more before COP26? And Prime Minister Morrison, just exactly how many more Australians will be able to live and work in the UK as a result of this deal, and are there any …


JOURNALIST: Are there any mechanisms in there …


JOURNALIST: … to prevent some sort of brain drain of highly-skilled workers coming over here?

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Ah, okay. Well, thank you very much, Bevan. Look, on the climate change ambitions of Australia, I think that Scott has declared for net zero by 2050 …

JOURNALIST: Preferably.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: … which is a great step forward when you consider the, you know, the situation Australia is in. It’s a massive coal producer. It’s having to change the way things are orientated, and everybody understands that. You can do it fast. When I was, in 2012 this country had 40 per cent of its power from coal. It’s now less than two per cent, going down the whole time. So it can happen fast. And I’m impressed by the ambition of Australia. Obviously we’re going to be looking for more the whole time, as we go into COP26 in November. But we want to work with Scott, with Australia, on the cleantech solutions. Because I think what we both strongly believe is that you can have a green industrial revolution that drives high wage, high-skilled jobs. You can do both. And that’s what we’re going to work on together.

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Look, on the other issue, I mean that, it will be totally demand driven, ultimately, as it is now, as people move between the countries. It’s a very easy arrangement currently, prior to COVID, the way visas are issued, going between both countries. There is a great opportunity, though, for young people from both United Kingdom and Australia to move and operate and work in different countries. That builds the capacity, I think, in both countries, with that easy engagement. I mean, collaboration is so critical in so many fields, and a shared experience of each other's societies and economies is a good thing. So we go onto this boldly and confidently, and it’s a great opportunity for people of both countries. It’s been happening for a very long time …


THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: And now it will continue, and in Australia it means that we’ll be moving forward on an agricultural visa as well. That is something that I’ve had a positive view on for some time, we look forward to that occurring, and that will provide other opportunities when it comes to our agricultural workforce. One of the biggest challenges we have, particularly in COVID, is when there's such restriction on movements of people. We need to meet those workforce challenges to ensure our primary producers, in particular, can make the most of the linear agreement we’ve agreed here today.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Yeah, and I can just say, you know, I’m the personally the beneficiary of Australian willingness to welcome young people to Australia. And I know that this whole country benefits from having Australians come to the UK. So, you know, I think there will be a healthy flow, but I don't think you need to worry about, you know, a brain drain either way. I think you’ve got …


THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Brain gain, that's right. Thank you. Well done, Scott. Okay, Ted from …

JOURNALIST: Yes, hello.




JOURNALIST: Yes. Prime Minister, how important would you say this deal is for the UK considering first post-Brexit?

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Look, I think that this is important economically, there's no question about that. I'm not going to exaggerate the overall increase in our respective GDPs that will flow from this. But I think it's more important politically and symbolically. We’re opening up to each other. And this is the prelude to a general campaign of opening up around the world. Free trade, who's been in the doldrums for 20 years. Countries have not been campaigning for free trade. You have here these two governments, people who actually believe that you will eradicate world poverty or do more to eradicate world poverty, lift standards of living around the world, raise aspiration by free trade, than by almost anything else. That is the, that is what history teaches us. And that's why I think this is an important deal.

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I commend the UK, because the UK is confidently moving forward. This is an ambitious free trade agreement. This is not a standard cookie cutter agreement. This is an agreement with great ambition for both countries. And it shows, I think, a great deal of confidence on the UK’s part as they move into a very different and new area of engaging with free trade and championing around the world, for countries like Australia.


JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Johnson, you appear to have hardened your views on China and that's been reflected at the G7. We've seen the British naval missions through the South China Sea. What offends you most about China's behaviour, and can you see the difficulties Australia has with dealing with this, in terms of the fact 40 per cent of our exports go to China?

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I can see that, Andrew, very clearly. You know, just look at the, I looked at the numbers. I think, $175 billion, I think is Australia's trade with China. I think Australia's trade with the UK is currently in the order of $15 billion. So it's like you can see the, you can see the difference in the scale [inaudible] second figure very, very substantially as a result of what we're doing. But, you know, the, if you ask me what do I find difficult about the way China behaves, you know, it's very obvious. And it was clear at the G7, clear at NATO yesterday. I think people are worried about what's happening to the Uighurs, they’re worried about the general repressions of liberties in Hong Kong, and some of the ways China behaves in its region, and it actually behaves particularly towards Australia. So we stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends. But I think I probably speak for Scott as well when I say nobody wants to descend into a new Cold War with China. We don't see that as the, that as the way forward. This is a difficult relationship where it is vital to engage with China in as positive a way as we can. But where there are difficulties, which there evidently are, it's vital that allies - UK, Australia - work together, and that's one of the reasons why we're sending the, you know, sending the carrier strike group out your way.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister.

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: This agreement is enormously helpful to Australia in the context that you raise. I mean, where you have challenges with one trading partner from time to time, then the ability to be able to diversify your trade into more and more countries is incredibly important. And I genuinely appreciate the way that the UK have engaged in this agreement because it reflects an understanding of that. And so this provides more opportunities and greater resilience for Australia's exporters all around the world. We have been very successful in concluding free trade agreements, which now represent the overwhelming majority of our two-way trade all around the world. That provides further resilience and greater protection for our exporters. And this agreement adds to that resilience at a time when I know Australians and Australian exporters are keenly looking for those opportunities. So we appreciate the spirit in which this deal has been done, not just its content and not just its good faith.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Great stuff, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you.