Doorstop - Paris, France

Transcript
09 Jul 2017
Paris, France
Prime Minister
France, Future Submarine Program, G20, President Trump, Same-sex marriage, President Macron
E&OE
International and Trade

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to thank again on behalf of myself and Lucy, President Macron and his wife Brigitte for their extraordinary warmth and hospitality and friendship they showed us yesterday and last night at the Élysée Palace.

It really was a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with the President and his wife and to discuss his agenda. He is of course the youngest President of the French Republic. He’s come through the centre of politics. You could say he stands in the sensible centre of French politics and has won a remarkable victory, both in the Presidential election and of course in the parliamentary elections just concluded.

It was great to have a very extended opportunity to talk with him on the plane. He gave us a lift as you know from Hamburg to Paris and then last night at the Élysée Palace.

I’d say the relationship between France and Australia has never been stronger and of course we’ll be going down to Cherbourg in a moment to officially open the Future Submarine Project office where the design work is underway for our regionally superior submarines that we’re building with the French based on their latest submarine.

This is a massive national enterprise, a multi-generational project that is going to knit the relationship between France and Australia together even more closely. And of course as the President noted last night, I thought in a very gracious and touching way, we’re doing all of this 100 years on from when Australian Diggers and French Poileau were fighting side-by-side to keep France free in the trenches of the First World War.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, how confident are you that jobs or work can start on the submarines in 2022?

PRIME MINISTER:

I was just actually speaking to one of my officials a moment ago and that is precisely the date, that 2021-2022 is when they expect construction to be able to begin.

JOURNALIST:

How many jobs would there be at that point do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

There will be thousands of jobs associated with the project. It is a massive project as you know. And of course it’s at the cutting edge of technology and this is one of the important things – it is not just a matter of acquiring the defence capabilities and naval capabilities that we need to defend Australia. It’s also at the most advanced level of manufacturing, of design and manufacturing and that has enormous spillover benefits for the rest of Australian industry.

So it is a job creator in terms of the project but this is a great national enterprise which will have big spill-over benefits across the economy.

JOURNALIST:

Is the plan still to have every one of the submarines built in South Australia? And is there a danger in doing that about capability gaps?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, the plan is to build, the commitment is to build them all in Australia. This is a part of my commitment to ensure that Australia has a sovereign defence industry, a sovereign naval shipbuilding industry. Of course it goes beyond submarines, as you know. But this is a key part of the economic security that my government is building for Australians now and for generations to come.

JOURNALIST:

Just reflecting on the G20 – the conclusion of the Summit has failed to reach consensus on North Korea and on climate. Are you concerned that issues of such consequence, there hasn’t been global leadership shown by the G20?

PRIME MINISTER:

Dealing with climate, I spent some time shortly before the G20 concluded, in fact with President Macron and President Trump ensuring that we had a consensus on the language in the communique and Prime Minister Theresa May was with us as well. There was quite a lot of work done by leaders to ensure that the language was agreed to and committed to. But of course the United States has decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement and that was recognised in the communique. But I think rather than focusing on the recognition of that decision by the United States which we regret, but nonetheless they’ve made that decision – it was well flagged in advance. President Trump campaigned on it. It was hardly a surprise. But apart from that I think there is considerable, consensus in agreement on the climate and energy issue.

As far as North Korea is concerned, the Chair of the G20 Chancellor Merkel made the point that the G20 has been historically largely an economic conference although of course we did secure a really historic statement about terrorism, counter-terrorism which again Australia played a leading role in delivering.

In terms of North Korea, there is unanimous condemnation of the conduct of the North Korean regime but my sense was based on what the Chancellor said to us was that it was a little late to achieve a consensus among all the nations on a particular statement to go into the communique.

JOURNALIST:

Was that disappointing?

PRIME MINISTER:

I would have preferred to have seen a unanimous statement but it was not able to be achieved. But look, there is nobody, I just want to be very clear about this, nobody around that table was defending the North Koreans in terms of their conduct.

The Chinese of course as I’ve said before have the greatest leverage and hence the greatest responsibility are very forthright in their condemnation of North Korea’s conduct and indeed supporting the sanctions that have been imposed by the Security Council.

JOURNALIST:

President Trump has left this Summit isolated on climate change, on trade and failing to help steer through some kind of strong statement on North Korea. How significant is it for the world and for Australia, and I guess for the global rules based order that the US power, so clearly is in decline at summits like this?

PRIME MINISTER:

You’ve just run through a summary of an editorial that you’re composing.

Just speaking for myself I am there as the Prime Minister of Australia defending Australia’s national interests. We wanted to get a strong statement on counter-terrorism. We wanted to get a strong statement about the rule of law applying in the digital world, in the cyber-space. We secured that.

We were able to join with other nations – I’ve mentioned Presidents Macron and Trump in particular – to ensure that we got consensus on the language on climate.

And look, generally I think it was a good outcome but plainly there are some differences of opinion around the table but you know, you can have a good conference and a good outcome without having complete unanimity on every point.

JOURNALIST:

Just on a domestic issue, a renewed push at home on same-sex marriage led by Dean Smith. Are you disappointed that this is happening despite your words only a couple of weeks ago on this to try and calm this down?

PRIME MINISTER:

On that matter all I can say is that the Government’s policy is very clear. We support a plebiscite where all Australians will be given a vote on the matter and that remains our policy. So, that’s really all I can say about it.

It is critical that all Australians be given a say and the only reason they haven’t been given that say is because of Bill Shorten playing politics with the issue. 

JOURNALIST:

But are you urging Dean Smith to do this? Are you urging him to not do this or are you staying out of it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well our policy is very clear. If Members want to raise - I mean Dean crossed the floor against the plebiscite bill in the Senate, you know, so he’s got a long standing view about it - but we, in our party, in our party room, Members are entitled to raise whatever issues they like.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, can I just take you back to the United States – we understand that you can’t necessarily criticise the President directly but can you tell us why you think it is important the United States be a global leader and be seen to be a global leader?

PRIME MINISTER:

The United States is a global leader. And it is plainly, I mean it is the largest economy, it is the number one super power. It provides global leadership and the President’s presence there in Hamburg was demonstration of that.

But again, that doesn’t mean that everybody has to agree on every single point. I think there is a remarkable amount of consensus that came out of the G20 statement and again, look at what we were able to achieve on terrorism, on the statement on counter-terrorism - how important it is for all of the nations around that table to speak with one voice and in particular to address the challenges in the cyber sphere which as one of the leaders I heard saying at the G20 it is an issue that has been talked about for many years but this is the first time that you’ve got very clear language and a very clear focus on what needs to be done and that’s good. And I’m glad that Australia’s been able to have a considerable influence in that.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, there was a report that Christopher Pyne was meant to come to Cherbourg today and then was yanked after his same-sex marriage comment. Is there any truth to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am quite capable of opening the project office myself I can assure you.

JOURNALIST:

You don’t need Mr Pyne?

(Laughter)

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce has said today that with President Trump you’ve got to separate what President Trump does, and what President Trump says. Do you agree?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I’m not here to commentate David. We have a very warm and constructive relationship with the Trump Administration both at a head of government level between myself and President Trump and with my ministers and officials. It is a very deep and engaged relationship and very constructive and effective. We spent a lot of time together at the G20 in which we covered a lot of issues – communique drafting issues, trade issues, discussed North Korea, discussed the Middle East – a whole range of issues. So it is a very good and constructive relationship and I want to thank President Trump for the opportunity to work through so many issues as we did at the G20.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister – what is your agenda for London?

PRIME MINISTER:

It will be largely focused on national security. We’ll be meeting obviously with Prime Minister May and with other ministers and also with security agencies while we are there.

JOURNALIST:

How was dinner last night? What did you have?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it was a magnificent dinner. It was, really, I just want to conclude on this point – you know, yesterday and last night was an opportunity for me to get to know President Macron very early in his term and we had the most broad-ranging discussions.

As you can see he is a remarkable leader of a remarkable nation and one whose destiny has been interlinked with Australia for well over a century as we discussed last night.

I think there was a very very valuable opportunity to get to know each other and understand his agenda, his reform agenda and his view of the world and the challenges that we face.

And I might say, I know that you’re talking about climate, just in terms of practical matters – I had very good discussions with a number of leaders about what we’re doing in the energy sphere and a lot of interest in what we’re doing on storage. There is a growing recognition around the world that as your quantity of renewable energy grows, variable renewable energy grows you’ve got to provide the storage and the backup to support it. And so a lot of interest in Snowy Hydro 2.0 and what we’re doing and I think you will see a lot of investment in pumped hydro around the world to support that renewable energy that is growing everywhere.

JOURNALIST:

Have you invited him to visit Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have, I certainly have and we look forward to doing so at some point the future. I think he would be enthusiastically received. I have no doubt he would be enthusiastically received.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us anything about the Disraeli speech that you’re going to give?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll be talking about freedom in the context of national security. That will be main theme of the speech.

Okay thank you all very much. See you in Cherbourg.

[ENDS]