Radio Interview - ABC Sydney Breakfast with James Valentine

17 May 2023
Prime Minister
Quad Leaders Meeting

JAMES VALENTINE, HOST: Prime Minister, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, good to be with you, James.

VALENTINE: When did you hear about it?

PRIME MINISTER: I spoke with President Biden very early this morning, before 6am we lined up a call in the early hours. My phone started going at about 4:30am our time. Of course, you have an issue there with a potential hold up of the Budget in their parliamentary process that they have in the Congress and the Senate. The deadline for resolving that impasse about the debt ceiling is June 1. So, as the President put to me, that week before June 1 will be absolutely critical, which is the coming week, and so he would be postponing his visit to Australia. We will have a bilateral meeting in Hiroshima. We will both be in Japan over the weekend for the G7 meeting, where Prime Minister Kishida has invited Australia, even though we're not a member of the G7, as a friend of Japan to that meeting. So we had a very good discussion this morning between myself and President Biden and confirmed that he would be postponing his visit but that we would be meeting in Japan. He confirmed my invitation to the United States, to a state visit later this year. And he's looking forward to getting down to Australia as soon as possible.

VALENTINE: So you said a bilateral meeting. So that's just Australia and US? No Quad meeting? No four way meeting with those, with the other leaders in Japan?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, there, he will try to convene a meeting given that all four leaders will be in Japan over the weekend, as well. So we'll have a bilateral discussion. But we'll also hopefully be able to find a time when the four of us can can sit down. We will have to organise the logistics of the Quad meeting now in in Sydney and we'll be discussing with our partners in the US, but also Japan and India over the over the next day or so.

VALENTINE: Does it downplay the Quad? Is is it saying that the Quad is not that important?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. And President Biden emphasised the importance of the Quad. He was very disappointed at some of the actions of some members of Congress and the US Senate. We long ago passed the time where opposition parties tried to hold up supply in Australia, you might recall, you're old enough like me to recall 1975. And ever since then, of course, we don't have those supply issues. But that effectively is what you've got in the US at the moment. And obviously the domestic priority for the President, understandably, is to play a role in resolving those issues.

VALENTINE: So you sound sympathetic to that. But I suppose it could be interpreted also, he's using the Quad to make a political point back in the US: 'Look here you Republicans, see what you're dragging me away from!' Is it being used in a political way?

PRIME MINISTER: No, not at all. One thing I'm absolutely certain of is that the President certainly wishes that this wasn't happening. It is behaviour that clearly is not in the interests of the people of the United States, but it's also because the US has a critical role as the world's largest economy. It has implications for the global economy as well, this hold up of the debt ceiling that they're engaged with.

VALENTINE: Alright, so Quad meeting postponed, not cancelled, but will be postponed. Do you have a notion when it might occur?

PRIME MINISTER: No, just the US President's visit is postponed. So that will occur at some time in the future. We will be talking with our partners about the Quad meeting over the next day.

VALENTINE: So that could still occur in Sydney with India and Japan?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes that's right, and with a representative of the United States at a senior level, as well, could occur. Prime Minister Modi has a bilateral program that is organised so I'm certain that he will be here. And, of course, we have a very large growing diaspora here in Australia and there are events including a large event at Kudos Arena to be held next Tuesday night

VALENTINE: And you will be, when are you expecting to go to the US?

PRIME MINISTER: I will be making an appropriate announcement when those dates are finalised, for that in the US. It'll be an official state visit which will underline the importance of the relationship between Australia and the United States.

VALENTINE: Mr Albanese, thanks so much for coming on.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, James.