Press Conference

Transcript
28 Nov 2021
Canberra, ACT
Prime Minister
E&OE

Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific: Well, welcome to Tuggeranong. It is great to have you down here. Great to have the Prime Minister. Great to have Michaelia Cash and Tarni here with us as well. And in a minute I'll handover to Prime Minister. But as someone who went to school just over there, St Thomas the Apostle, it's great to have the PM down in this part of the valley. Daisy met the PM a minute ago and she said, I can't believe the Prime Minister is down here in Kambah and I think that is fantastic. It is great to be out in the burbs. It's great to see sport happening again. Weather permitting, we will see it continue and but it's great to have the Prime Minister down here for a really important announcement. I'll hand over to him.

Prime Minister: Thanks, it's great to be here with you Zed. And Tarni, it is great to be here with you, but I think the kids are even more excited about you being here and the great example you’ve been to them and to have the Attorney here as well for what is a very important announcement. I'm pleased that Jenny and Abbey have also joined me today because it is a very important issue for all Australians, but particularly for families, particularly for the young girls, for women. And I want to come to that in just one second.

Obviously, the very serious issues regarding the new variant that we've had with COVID has been moving quickly. And I'll say a little bit more about that later in relation to questions as you'd like to raise them. But we took strong action yesterday. I had very good discussions yesterday with the premiers, both in New South Wales and Victoria and fully support the actions that they're taking, as we discussed them yesterday. This is a fast moving issue, but we will continue, as we always have, sensible, balanced, guided by the best possible medical evidence and medical expert advice. That is what has enabled Australia to be so successful through the course of COVID, to open safely and to remain safely open.

Also, we continue to have ongoing operations in the Solomon Islands, which we are taking regular briefings on and meeting about very regularly. And that will continue, of course, today and happy to take questions on those matters and others as well.

The reason we're here today is I want to ensure that Australians are safe online. Our government has done an enormous amount to keep Australians safe. But one of the areas where we've really led the world is by ensuring that Australians can be safe online. The E-Safety Commissioner, the Online Safety Act, the work we've done to increase powers to ensure that social media platforms and the internet is not used as a weapon by terrorists. All of this has been world leading. We've taken it to the big forums of the world, the G20, and enlisted their support. And indeed, we are now continuing to enlist their support and what is necessary to keep our online world safe, safe for our kids, safe for our families, safe for our friends and our community. The online world provides many great opportunities, but it comes with some real risks and we must address these or it will continue to have a very harmful and corrosive impact on our society, on our community. Our government has been taking action on this. We've been standing up and stepping up when it comes to the actions of the big digital media platforms, getting them to pay their tax, making sure they respect and support the freedom of our press. But most importantly, making sure that the rules that exist in the real world must exist in the digital and online world. The online world shouldn't be a wild west where bots and bigots and trolls and others can just anonymously go around and harm people and hurt people, harass them and bully them and sledge them. That's not Australia. That's not what can happen in the real world, and there's no case for it to be able to be happening in the digital world.

Australia wants to be, and we are fast on the way to becoming one of the world's leading digital economies. But for that to be true, the digital world has to be safe. As a parent talking to other parents, I can tell you the thing that concerns us is that our kids are dealing with an online world which we never knew as kids growing up and that we never had experience of. More recent generations have had some experience of that. But I think about our kids going through this today. I think, particularly how the online world is used to harass women in particular, they are one of the biggest victims, when it comes to the terrible things that we see in the online world. Our government is stepping up and standing up to those we need to stand up to. There is no place for people to be anonymously going round and undertaking this horrific abuse and harassment and stalking online. And so that's why our government has taken an important decision to be introducing legislation in addition to all the other legislation we have already introduced and is coming into effect and it will do a number of things and I'll allow the Attorney to go into more detail. But digital platforms, these online companies, must have proper processes to enable the takedown of this content. There needs to be an easy and quick and fast way for people to raise these issues with these platforms and get it taken down. They have that responsibility. They've created this world, they've created this space and they need to make it safe. And if they won't, we will make them with laws such as this, and I will campaign for these all around the world, as I've done on so many other occasions, with Australia taking the lead. We simply want them to make it a safe place because they will need those simple procedures.

Secondly, it's important that we understand that they are the publishers at the end of the day, just like the media is here today, who represent the traditional media. Papers that are published, news bulletins that are broadcast. We all know who's putting that to air and who's putting the ink on the paper, and they're responsible and they're accountable for what is published in those mediums. So too, should it be for these digital online companies that allow these things to be aired and published on their platforms and where people do not identify themselves or the digital companies provide a shield, a digital shield to trolls and bots and bullies and bigots, well, we will hold them accountable for the statements that are made, and they will be liable for what is said. In a free society such as Australia, where we value our free speech, it is only free when that is balanced with the responsibility for what you say. Free speech is not being allowed to cowardly hide in your basement and sledge and slur and harass people anonymously and seek to destroy their lives. That's not freedom. That's cowardice. And there's no place for that in this country.

In this country, we value freedom of speech, and freedom of speech means you take responsibility for what you say. You take responsibility for the statements that are made and that's how a free society works. Now, of course, there will be protections for vulnerable and others, and the Attorney will speak to those. But the actions we are taking today is making sure that people are responsible for what they say and do and where the digital companies provide a digital shield to those who would seek to engage in that behaviour, then they are on the hook and we will be coming after them. Now, just to show you how serious we are about this, the Attorney will be taking a close interest. And yes, we will be looking for test cases and test cases that could reinforce these laws. So if the digital companies or others think they can can think they're only just going to have to at the end of the day, be dealing with perhaps someone of little means seeking to pursue this, then we will look for those cases where we will back them and we will back them in the courts and we will take them on. We'll take them on in the parliament and we'll take them on in the courts because I want to ensure our kids are safe. I want to ensure that women are safe. This is an issue that I know is talked about in almost, if not every family in the country. We are all concerned about the impact that social media is having on our families, on our communities, on our society, and we're taking action, world leading action to make sure we can change that. And so we can protect Australians. We can protect our kids. And in particular, we can protect women who are just so often the victims of these terrible events. And I'll ask the Attorney to speak to this further.

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Attorney-General: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And it really is fabulous to be here today at Kambah playing Fields Number One, with my good friend Zed Seselja, the Prime Minister of Australia, and of course, the fantastic Tarni, who will address us shortly. As I look around the playing fields today and I watch all of these young kids and their parents out there, we do everything we can as a government and as a society to make sure that in the physical world in which we all live, and in particular in which these children live, they are safe. We need to, and we have been as a government taking steps to ensure that the online world in which these children, that is now their reality, they will live going forward is also a safe space. And that is why I'm very pleased to be here today to announce that the government is going to take further steps to protect Australians, in particular young Australians, online, because that's what we all deserve. We interact in that online world; we deserve to be safe in the online world.

And that is why we will be introducing legislation, the social media anti-trolling legislation. It will specifically do two things. The first, of course, is an issue that so many journalists have raised with me. It is the impact of the High Court decision in the Fairfax Media and Voller case. The journalists here would be very familiar with the outcome of that decision because what the High Court has said is that a social media user, not the social media company itself, a social media user who has a Facebook page, can now be held liable as the publisher of comments made by a third party on that social media page, even if that particular social media page owner did not know about those third party comments or worse was unable to do anything about them. That has actually thrown a lot of confusion in relation to who actually is a publisher of online third party comments and in particular, defamatory comments that cause so much harm. This has also caused a lot of concern, in particular for small business people ,their mum and dads out there, and small business people, the local plumber here in Canberra, who utilises a social media service such as Facebook, has a Facebook page to advertise what they're doing for you. They can now potentially be held liable as the publisher for derogatory, defamatory comments made by a third party on their Facebook page. So what the Morrison Government is going to do is we are going to bring clarity to the law. We will therefore introduce the legislation to deem the social media service will be a publisher for the purposes of this. We will also, in the legislation, deem that the social media page user, in other words, the small business in Canberra, the journalist represented here today, mum and dads around Australia, you will be deemed not to be the publisher. We need to ensure that Australians have certainty in relation to who is the publisher for these third party comments. Social media services, they need to step up and they need to understand that they have a responsibility in this regard. And that is why this important step providing clarity to all Australians, but in particular to social media companies, you will be deemed a publisher.

But at the same time, as the Prime Minister said, we need to take steps to ensure that Australians are safe online. People have just had enough of third party online trolls putting potentially defamatory comments online that then can cause harm to people. So this legislation is going to empower Australians to unmask these trolls. You should not be able to use the cloak of online anonymity to spread your vile, defamatory comments. And so what we will do is we will ensure that social media companies in Australia, they will be required to have a nominated entity here in Australia. They will be able to get a defence from being the publisher if they have in place a complaints procedure, as set out in the legislation. The complainant asks them to activate the complaints procedure and as a result of going through the complaints procedure, they are able to provide the complainant with the details of the online troll. In other words, unmask them with either their email address, their mobile phone number or other relevant details to enable that person to take a defamation action against them. In the event that they are unable to do this, they will not get the defence.

We will also, however, put in place another mechanism for people who are subject to defamatory comments, to be able to utilise. They will be able to apply to the Federal Court of Australia for an end user information disclosure order. In other words, they'll be able to go to the Federal Court and say, I believe I have been defamed and I am unable to take this action any further because this person is at this point in time, anonymous. The Court will therefore be able to issue to the social media service an order that they provide the complainant with the details to unmask the troll so that the complainant is able to take action against them. At the same time, the social media company, they will need to notify the online troll that there has been a complaint against them. They will need to ask the online troll to take down the material. In many cases, this will actually be the end of the matter. The online troll will take down the material and the complainant will be satisfied. In the event that the complainant is not satisfied, they can say to the social media company, I now need the details of this person so I can commence an action against them. The social media company, therefore needs to go to this person and with their consent, provide their details to the complainant. In the event that they are unable to do this, they will be unable to access the defence, and that is why we are also putting in place the court process, the end user identification disclosure order.

As the Prime Minister said though, when it comes to defamation law in the online world. This is just an unsettled area of law. So in the first instance, the Morrison Government will provide clarity in relation to who is the publisher following the Voller decision, and that will be deemed to be the social media company. But at the same time, we are going to ensure that in cases that raise areas of law that do need to be settled, the Attorney-General of Australia will be given the ability to intervene in the proceedings to ensure that the views of the average Australian are actually represented in the court when they're taking on a social media company. This is just all about ensuring that what happens in the physical world, we know what the consequences of our actions are, are also now ensuring that they happen in the online world. Everybody deserves to be safe online, and today the Morrison Government is making this incredibly important announcement that just builds on all of the work that we have already done in the cyber space to ensure that all Australians, I look around today, in particular these young children, if you are online, you're in a safe environment.

Prime Minister: Tarni?

Ms Tarni Evans: As an AFLW player, I think you become aware of this online issue and bullying online has been quite horrible. In every form, I think it shouldn't be tolerated. As I've seen from a few team-mates and different girls in our league, I think it's important that this issue gets, gets dealt with as soon as possible, and it's been nice to hear that this is coming through and that online bullying will be sorted.

Prime Minister: Thanks. Thank you very much. Well, thank you very much. Happy to take some questions. We might, I know there's a lot of topics today, so I'll hand it over to you guys.

Journalist: Prime Minister, the Attorney mentioned the relevant details social media companies will have to collect. I imagine you mentioned email addresses, mobile phone numbers, what other details will they have to collect? Driver's licence, passports, those sorts of personal details?

Prime Minister: The point here is we want the social media companies to fix this. They have the wit, they have the technology, they have the innovation. They've built this world and what they have to be able to do is ensure that when someone comes and says 'who said this', that they have an ability to be able to respond to that question and say it was them. So that's up to them. Now, I think they have the ability to do this. I mean, digital identities, these sorts of things, it's evolving. But these companies have to take responsibility for it. It's a shame we actually have to do this. You know, they're very good at using their algorithms to drive revenue. I'd like them to use their algorithms to drive safety and to apply their wit and their incredible talent to actually making the online world safe. So I think they have the wit and the ability to address those issues in a way that is fair to their customers. But at the same time ensures that, that there is no shield of anonymity, except in quite extreme circumstances where the Bill that now goes out consultation. And I want to see it come in and when we come back to Parliament next year and I'm sure it'll be able to move quickly through the parliament, I expect to get strong support for this.

Journalist: But then if you're an online troll, you could easily ignore a phone call and emails and something like that. What stronger ...

Prime Minister: If the online company can't tell us who it is, then they are liable. They are responsible, they are in the sights. So I can tell you it is in the social media company's interests to make sure that they have a very voracious way of ensuring that they can actually tell people who this is. Otherwise, they're the ones who are going to get the the case brought against them.

Journalist: Would you be comfortable if Facebook, Twitter, have a large database of every Australian's driver's licence?

Prime Minister: What I'm not comfortable is social media companies allowing online anonymous abuse of women and girls. That's what I'm not comfortable with. I'm not comfortable with that at all. As a father, as a parent, as a member of the community, as a Member for Cook and as a Prime Minister, I'm not comfortable that social media companies provide a shield to trolls and they've turned it, in many cases, into a cowards’ palace. I'm not okay with it. And I don't believe Australians are okay with it.

Journalist: How would you prevent them using a vexatious way? So there are some circumstances in which Chris to be anonymous because they are whistleblower. So could a company that's been targeted by whistle blower use this mechanism to get these whistle blowers identity by claiming defamation, even though perhaps there is none?

Prime Minister: No, there are protections against that in Bill. And we're conscious of that, that there are circumstances that exist like this and those protections are afforded in the Bill as you'd expect them to. See, this is another balanced, sensible bill. We have thought carefully through these issues. The Voller case has, of course, created an even, we've already had, I've got to tell you an incredibly high sense of urgency. You've heard me on this matter many times and you've seen what our government has done on these issues many, many times. And so we will just keep, I can tell, you and I'm not done yet. If this isn't enough, I will do more. I will go further. We will consider whether we create public defender potential opportunities there for people. If the social media companies don't get this right. So my simple request is get it right, get it safe. But do it now.

Journalist: So you are talking about the Commonwealth intervening in cases, is there a possibility that you will set up a public defender's office and intervene in every single case?

Prime Minister: That's not the proposal now, but I can tell you it has been under consideration and it remains under consideration. I want to do this in a measured and sensible and balanced way. I want the social media companies to use their resources, their skills, their abilities to make the online world safe. Now we expect that of every product manufacturer in the country, I expect that of these companies and I won't be just focusing on ensuring that it happens here in Australia. The Deputy Prime Minister is heading off next week. He'll be in the United States and other places and he'll be having these discussions. I know he already has. I had discussions with President Widodo about this. Every leader I speak to about this issue talks about the same problems in their country. It doesn't matter whether it's a developing country like Indonesia or an advanced economy like in Europe. Social media is eroding our society. If we don't ensure that the rules in the real world apply in the digital world, this will keep happening. And Australia has stepped up and is stepping up.

Journalist: In terms of damages. What would you be thinking, because of course, these are multi-trillion dollar exercises, so this is a small amount of money for them. If they were racking up case after case and just playing out, would you be prepared to go further, would you shut the entity down?

Prime Minister: I'm prepared to ensure that we do everything we can to make the digital world safe, Chris. And I think I've demonstrated that, year after year, month after month. We've sought to do this step by step and we've, we've been turning up the heat on the digital media companies now for many, for many years. And guess what? They're responding. They are responding. And media companies know that probably better than anyone because of what we did to ensure that they paid properly for journalistic content produced in Australia, which has saved, frankly, quite a few media companies in this country. But whether it's that or paying tax or stopping terrorists who use their platforms. But I've got to tell you, as a parent, the thing that worries me most is that we all know that that little phone or that iPad that they have, which they're looking at, maybe in the car or on the bus, on the way to school or on the train, or maybe in their room at night, and what can come back at our children and women who are vulnerable, this really disturbs me. It really concerns me, and we're going to do everything we can to ensure that we prevent this as much as we possibly can in a free society.

Journalist: With billions of users using these platforms, I assume it's not going to be retroactive, retrospective. You can't go back, and make all these people provide their details, so they're still going to be able to see that?

Prime Minister: They better move quick then because I'm telling you going forward, if they don't tell us who they are, we're coming after them.

Journalist: So will it be retroactive?

Prime Minister: Well, it can't be, no, we don't do that. But they need to get it sorted.

Journalist: If I have a Facebook page today, will I then now have to comply with these current ...?

Prime Minister: The digital companies, I'm sure in response to this in the months ahead and years ahead will continue to, to tighten up how they can ensure that they can meet the requirements of these laws and they will deal with their customers and they will make those requests. But what I'm telling you is you can't hide on social media to abuse people. That's not okay in Australia, and we're making sure that it's not okay.

Journalist: Have you spoken to the social media companies about this?

Prime Minister: I've spoken about it many times, many times.

Journalist: This specific case?

Prime Minister: I've been talking to them about this publicly and privately for some time.

Journalist: What's been the reaction?

Prime Minister: Well, let's see what happens.

Journalist: Just on another issue, are you considering any …

Prime Minister: I should say it's not so much a discussion. I'm telling them what we're doing. I'm telling them what they're doing, and I'm expecting them to respond, and I will keep taking it further until they continue to do the responsible thing with an all pervasive, what is effectively a product in our community, and I want them to make it safe and I believe they can, and I can only assume they wish to, and I'm sure they do wish to make it safe. I mean, these digital tools, of course, have many positive, many, many positive benefits. Of course they do. We recognise that. But if Australians don't feel safe online, then I think that actually detracts from the positive benefits that can come from these digital developments in technology.

Journalist: Just four sitting days left with the year, you've said Government will be sticking with its original proposal for Commonwealth Integrity Commission, will you have the legislation introduced into parliament before it rises for the year to bring on a debate?

Prime Minister: Well, there's no support for our proposal from those, from Labor or others. Our proposal has been consulted on. We've had it out there for a long time, we're interested in fair dinkum commission that looks at criminal conduct, not on who people's boyfriends are. Labor and others want to have a system that frankly is open to all sorts of abuse and, and game playing and politicking. And we've seen that from Labor over and over the course of this term time and time that is referred off to the AFP wasting their time and coming back completely because that's exactly what's happened. And that's not a proposal we're interested in. We have, we have a very well-designed and well-considered alternative, and that's the option that we have.

Journalist: Will it include a two tiered system goes so where a politician would be questioned in private or as an AFP officer would be questioned in a public hearing?

Prime Minister: Well, the Attorney she can go through the details of that.

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Attorney-General: That is correct at this point in time. The bill is as it stands with exactly as you said.

Journalist: And why have you gone without consulting for months and months after the original proposal was, I suppose, widely criticised only to say, you know, you’re not changing it at all.

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Attorney-General: We took on board all of the relevant feedback, but we have determined the model we would put in place is a fair model. It is a balanced model and as the Prime Minister said it will deal with instances of serious criminal corruption at a federal level. That is what this bill is all about. It's not, as the Prime Minister said, a political witch hunt which the Labor Party seem to want it to be. We have a bill, if Labor indicated they would support the bill, our situation would be very, very different. But at this point in time, we have a bill, they don't. All they have is a statement of opposition. That's their situation.

Journalist: Are you concerned about the potential for a new variant to disrupt the national reopening plan? And are you considering any further sort of travel restrictions, border closures on the quarantine period going to be coming for everyone coming back from overseas or overseas?

Prime Minister: Well, the new variant is, is concerning. It moved from being a variant of investigation to a variant of concern within the space of 24 hours and as a result, late on Friday night and again early on Saturday morning, I convened with the Chief Medical Officer and the Health Minister and the Secretary of the Health Department and immediately put in place a set of actions that were implemented successfully yesterday. And I spoke both with the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, and I support the measures that they are taking within their jurisdictions. We've taken measures in our jurisdiction and that was intended for the states to then follow through on the areas that fell within their responsibilities. And I think the 72 hour isolation of, of, of those coming in from overseas is a very sensible and practical measure, and we'll keep a very close eye on it. And I think we need to be very responsive to further evidence that is, that is becoming available and the expert medical advice. That is what has always guided us on these issues.

But our intention, let's not forget what the ultimate objective is here in this global pandemic. Objective is to open safely and remain safely open. I'm quite encouraged by the fact that despite that, we still have over thousand cases on most days in, in Victoria, the Victorian health and hospital system is standing up extremely well. It's standing up, in fact, better than what the Doherty Institute modelling suggested. The goal here is not to have no cases. The goal here is to ensure that our public hospitals and health systems are able to be able to cope with this virus so we can live with the virus. We can live together with the virus, that we can open safely and we can remain safely open, which is the purpose of the national plan. And so we will continue to work closely with the, with the states and territories who have their responsibilities, and we will continue to work closely as we are with countries around the world. There is still not a lot understood about this new variant. There is no evidence at this point regarding its, whether it has greater severity or not. It certainly does seem to have a higher transmissibility. But in terms of its the effect of vaccines and things of that nature, those matters are still, there’s no evidence to suggest anything different.

Journalist: Prime Minister, the last sitting week of the year is upon us. How would you respond to those who led the charge against you, as Bob Hawke used to say, when you can't run your party you can't run the government?

Prime Minister: For three years, we've had a very strong and focused and united team that has ensured that we've been able to lead Australia through one of the most difficult periods this country has known since the Second World War. We have the strongest economies coming through this pandemic. We have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and congratulations to all those down in South Australia, ticking over the 80 per cent mark. Great work. And of course, we have one of the lowest fatality rates of COVID anywhere in the world, and we've done that because we've been a strong and united team and in my team, I'm not distracted or in fact or perturbed in any way by the fact that from time to time there are differences of views within the Liberals in the Liberal Party or the Nationals Party. I mean that that is the nature of Liberals and Nationals. We don't go around treating people like drones. You know, we, we respect and listen to the views of our colleagues. They are reflecting views that are being expressed in their community, and I listened carefully to those. And that's why we've been able to maintain, I think, a very strong unity and will continue to in the future because that's how I lead my party. I respect every individual member, even on occasions where I might have a different view to them. That's the sensible, mature way to do things, and that's how you achieve real unity.

Journalist: Prime Minister, working our way through the Greek alphabet with COVID, don't you think at some stage, just in a nod to history, that one of them should be called Xi? X-I?

Prime Minister: Well, I'll, I'll leave the naming of these variants, Chris, to the WHO, I think. But what's important is that we've always said that there will be new variants. This is the nature of pandemic. The fact that the new variant has emerged is, is not a surprise. What we need to continue to do is keep working together and get through this just like we've got through every single other one and we've been able to push through the Delta strain and Delta is still out there. But our vaccination rates are where they are one of the highest in the world, and I want to thank all of Australians for staying calm and pushing through, looking after one another, getting vaccinated. And can I particularly encourage everybody, if you haven't had your first or second dose yet, and there's a smaller proportion these days because we're 85 per cent now, but particularly in Western Australia and in Queensland, I would encourage you to get those vaccines. And if you've already had your vaccine, your second dose and six months, please go and get your booster shots. Booster shots, very important to ensure Australia is in a stronger position, as we possibly can, to deal with these sorts of issues. I mean this is not like it was back in February and March of 2020. We now have good knowledge. Good advice. The uncertainties are not like they used to be. We have good systems which have been proven, which is demonstrated by one of the lowest fatality rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates in the world. That's what Australians have done. That's what our government has been working to deliver to open safely and remain safely open.

Journalist: PM, just on the Solomons, do you have an update on that? And secondly, Peter Dutton's speech to Press Club on Friday was pretty strong, particularly the importance of defending Taiwan. What's your view on that? Is that a view that you share that if Taiwan falls, then the rest of Asia might go as well?

Prime Minister: Well, let me deal with the Solomons first, and I thank you for the question on that. We have Australians who have been deployed once again in the Solomon Islands, both AFP and the ADF. I also want to thank the governments of Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand who are also supporting this response. Papua New Guinean police are already there working with ours. We are working with the Fijian military right now about them also being deployed and and was in contact yesterday with the New Zealand Prime Minister about some support from New Zealand, in a very limited role, but where they have a lot of expertise working within our Indo-Pacific family of nations, there are further afield being deployed today. And I thank also the New South Wales Government for their offer and they'll be supporting our effort there, joining our AFP officers. And  I want to thank Premier Perrottet and Commissioner Fuller for their prompt response and coming forward to offer that help. And we are seeing in the Solomons, I'm getting regular updates and we're meeting each day to review the operation, that at this point, although things are very unstable at this point, there are no areas that, to our knowledge, which are, where there has been lost control. But obviously plans are being made and our responses to those to ensure they can be tough. What we want to see happen in the Solomon Islands is for the people of the Solomon Islands under their constitution, under their normal processes can resolve any issues they have. It is not for us to be interfering in their democracy. It's not for us to be interfering in how they resolve those issues. We are just simply there as a good family member to try and provide a stable and safe environment for the issues that are there in the Solomon Islands to be peacefully worked through. And I really do thank the other countries from the Pacific family who have come and joined us to this initiative and the understanding and support that have come from further afield about the role and leadership Australia has played here.

Journalist: On Taiwan?

Prime Minister: Well, obviously, the speech that the Minister for Defence gave on Friday, I strongly support. We discussed it before he delivered it. He simply set out very clearly, I think what the facts are and the facts are very clear. Australia will take actions and have responses to keep Australians safe, to protect our interests and to ensure that we stand up to any form of coercion that occurs. I mean, this is we're a free country and we intend to stay that way. And under our government, we've made the investments in our defence capability. We've put in place the strong alliances and partnerships with like minded countries, particularly the AUKUS arrangement speaks to that very strongly, but also our partnerships with countries like Japan and and India, very critical together with the United States through, the through the Quad partnerships, which just doesn't just look at security issues, but looks at the positive role that we can play in the region for a free and open Indo-Pacific. But the Defence Minister is spot on, when it comes to the uncertain environment in which we live. This is not a time where Australia can afford weakness. This is not a time when Australia can afford people having an each way bet on national security. Our government has always been very firm and very clear when it comes to standing up for Australia's interests in the Indo-Pacific, and we will always do it that way because we believe in it strongly and we have the strength to carry it through. Thanks very much, everyone. Thanks, Tarni.

[Ends]