Remarks to the ASEAN-Australia Virtual Summit

27 Oct 2021
Prime Minister

PRIME MINSTER: Well, thank you very much, Your Majesty and Your Excellencies. I'm delighted to be here at this first annual ASEAN-Australia Summit with our ASEAN friends. Another significant milestone in our relationship.

As your first dialogue partner, our annual summits will allow us to deepen our already very, very strong ties, and will guide us through an era of profound change in the Indo-Pacific.

I wish to particularly commend Your Majesty Brunei Darussalam for its leadership and commitment to promoting stability and recovery during what has been an extraordinarily challenging year.

Your Majesty, I have particularly valued our work together this year on mental health - the shadow pandemic - which I know you have made mention of in many forums as leaders have come together over the course of these past few years.

Brunei Darussalam’s Chair theme, ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper,’ underlines the importance of our shared recovery.

And as we continue to grapple with COVID-19, we know that we cannot respond and recover alone. In true partnership, that is the best way forward.

There is no higher priority for us all than access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

We have shared almost four million doses directly with ASEAN partners to date, and we expect to share millions more by the end of next year.

I am also pleased to advise that we will share at least an additional 10 million doses from our domestic supply with ASEAN countries by mid-next year.

ASEAN members’ growth underpins regional stability, and Australia's prosperity.

Your stability is fundamental to our own. Our health security is inextricably tied to yours. And our enduring partnership supports an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region.

ASEAN is at the centre of the Indo-Pacific. And we back this, both through our words and our actions.

In 2020, Australia made significant investments to support your COVID-19 response and recovery, including some $500 Australian dollars - million dollars - of packages of support that I announced at last year’s Summit, consistent with the four key areas of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which we share.

Australia has proposed an elevation of our partnership with ASEAN to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, because we want our cooperation to reach new heights.

I respect ASEAN's process for considering CSPs.

Should ASEAN decide to agree to CSPs, Australia is, of course, ready.

A CSP, though, is more than just a label. We will back it with substance that positions our partnership to address complex challenges in the future.

And I'm pleased to announce today the Australia for ASEAN Futures Initiative, to drive cooperation, support implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and deepen our investment in the region's future.

Australia will provide $124 million to fund projects, jointly identified by ASEAN and Australia, to address to address complex and emerging challenges.

Challenges like COVID-19 recovery, terrorism, transnational crime, energy security and transition to lower emissions technology, the circular economy, and, of course, our healthy oceans.

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as you know, recently announced an enhanced capability and technology sharing partnership, which is known as AUKUS.

All three of us are ASEAN Dialogue Partners.

And I want to address this upfront, because transparency and communication on this important initiative is important to Australia, with our ASEAN friends.

And I know hearing from us has been important to you.

AUKUS does not change Australia's commitment to ASEAN or the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, it reinforces it. It reinforces the backing that we have for an ASEAN-led regional architecture.

These commitments are stronger than ever.

AUKUS adds to our network of partnerships that support regional stability and security.

Australia remains deeply committed to international law and the rules-based order that has underpinned regional stability and prosperity, and which all ASEAN members depend.

AUKUS does not change Australia's deep, long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation - Australia does not want and will not seek nuclear weapons, as I've assured all ASEAN members.

We will continue to meet all our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia and ASEAN - we're good friends, we're good neighbours, and are natural partners at the centre of the Indo-Pacific.

And so I look forward to hearing from you all today, and I thank you very much for the honour of being part of this first dialogue partnership. Thank you, Your Majesty.