Opening Remarks at the Joint Press Conference with His Excellency Mr Emmanuel Macron

May 2, 2018



Well, Mr President, Emmanuel, welcome again. You have enjoyed a very warm and very rapturous welcome here in Sydney, I think Australia appeals to you and you appeal to Australia and Australians. So thank you so much.

We’ve had a very good discussion here today at Admiralty House with our colleagues, our Ministers and we’ve recognised, as we have in our previous events and speeches, how our two nations have so much in common.

We’ve talked about and honoured the joint sacrifices on the battlefield. And reflected on the sacrifices in France in the First World War, indeed in the Somme region where you were born and grew up.

Of course, that joint sacrifice marks our history. It defines our history and our remembrance.

It is the foundation but our future now is defined by the opportunities and the shared values, the timeless values of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, the equality of men and women, mutual respect.

These timeless values are never more than timely than they are today. They define our two nations and our two great democracies.

Australia and France are forces for good in the world.

We stand here united, working together to protect and support peace and prosperity. As I said in Villers-Bretonneux last week, the bond which was forged on the Western Front is as strong as ever. Over 100 years later, we continue to stand side by side and act against threats to our security and to our values. We act against terrorism, against those who seek to undermine the integrity of our democratic institutions. Against governments that use chemical weapons against their own people or other nation's people. But our relationship is not defined by what we stand against, rather by what we stand for.

The President said in his book, Revolution, he said that he is a man of “for”. “Je suis un homme du pour.” You are a positive leader and we are positive too. We stand for shared values of freedom, democracy and opportunity. Our support for the international rules-based order which underpins our security and which assures us that might is not right. Critically important, as one of the great leaders in our region, the founder of Singapore – his son of course Lee Hsien Loong is the Prime Minister today – 50 years ago in the 1960s, he said: "We don't want to have a world where the big fish eat the little fish and the little fish eat the shrimp."

And that is what the rule of law does and that is why we stand together to defend it.

We recognise too, that a commitment to free and open trade is also underpinned by the rules of law and forms the bedrock of our shared prosperity.

We've had some very substantive exchanges today. We’ve committed to strengthening our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, we share the vision of a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific and will work closely to realise it. Whether it is closer cooperation on maritime activities, support for our friends in the Pacific through humanitarian and disaster relief, support for infrastructure in the region.

France is a Pacific power. It is a Pacific nation and it’s significant presence in the region can only bring benefits to Australia and to the region more broadly. We welcome that and we’ll continue to work closely with France in our region.

We’ve discussed our joint commitment to the fight against terrorism and we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder in that fight, including through joint action in Iraq against ISIS. We’ve agreed to host the next International Conference on Terrorist Financing, following on from the one President Macron hosted last week in Paris. There must be no money for terror. We have to cut off their finances and by doing so, we reduce and diminish their capability to do us harm.

We both have condemned, in the strongest terms, the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I made clear to the President that Australia strongly supports the action France took with the United Kingdom and the United States in response to the latest chemical attack in Syria. Of course, we’ve discussed and both remained committed to a political solution in that troubled country.

We have discussed our future submarine program, which is laying the groundwork for even deeper collaboration in defence.

We’re building together the world's most advanced non-nuclear submarines for our Navy. This $50 billion program represents the strategic partnership that will last for generations. As the design matures and we start the building phase, Australians will return home from France and pass on the cutting-edge knowledge gained from their counterparts. The establishment of a sovereign defence industry in Australia is a vital national objective of my Government. This is a great national enterprise. Our whole Defence Investment Plan, critically important and Mr President, you are our partners in this great project.

Today, we’re issuing a joint vision statement to set a framework for a shared future of cooperation, joint ambition and innovation, through the Australia-France Initiative or AFiniti. AFiniti will strengthen our collaboration and usher in a new era of Australia-France cooperation.

It’s always been a very cooperative and amicable relationship, a very positive relationship between good friends with shared values. But Mr President, your visit is taking it to new heights. We are accelerating a great partnership and a strong friendship.

We’ve charged our respective Foreign Ministers, Julie Bishop and Jean-Yves Le Drian to take on the task of carrying the project forward.

As a first step, the President and I are announcing a number of ambitious new initiatives. We’ve witnessed a new agreement on mutual logistics support that will enhance operability between our armed forces to respond to common challenges such as humanitarian crises and natural disasters where we already work together, especially in this region.

There will be a new Defence Industry Symposium, to strengthen defence and business cooperation beyond the submarine program. It’ll identify investment opportunities for Australian and French companies and ensure Australian defence industry is equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the global market.

We’ve signed a letter of intent to enhance cyber cooperation, to improve information sharing and better work together to counter malicious cyber activities, whether by state actors or by their proxies, by criminal networks or terrorist groups.

We both have reaffirmed that the laws that apply offline, should apply online. We have committed to joint action on climate change adaption and environmental protection and agreed to work together on reef resilience, the resilience of coral reefs in the Pacific.

As founding members of the International Solar Alliance we’ll focus on ways to mobilise, finance and develop technologies to harness and deploy solar energy in the region. As I was saying to you Mr President, we’re also in the process of building the biggest battery in the southern hemisphere, Snowy 2.0, which supports renewable energy. I might say Australia has the largest percentage of rooftop solar in the world. So we have certainly embraced the principles of that solar alliance.

Last weekend, we announced the single largest investment ever to ensure the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, in the face of climate change and other threats. That resilience research that is going on as well is going to be vitally important to every other coral reef.

For the first time, under our National Energy Guarantee, we are integrating, fully, climate and energy policy, ensuring that electricity is affordable, reliable and meets our emissions targets under the Paris Agreement.

I’ve also welcomed the signing of a number of agreements with the President, including memorandums of understanding between Australian and French universities and research institutions on important projects like quantum computing - few more important than that - solar energy and cancer research. Whatever field you can identify, where French and Australian intellects are brought together for the betterment of mankind, we're ensuring that is being done and will be done more so in the future.

We’ve also have talked about free trade. We’ve talked about the importance of an Australia-EU free trade agreement, which will promote further trade between Australia and the EU and of course, Australia and France, which totaled almost $9 billion in 2016-17.

We both understand that free trade and open markets are good for jobs. Good for jobs in France, good for jobs in Australia. So we’ve established a new ministerial dialogue on trade and investment, to broaden and deepen our economic relationship, help drive economic growth and job creation in both countries.

We’ve discussed our deep business relationships across the board, with both Australia and France committed to increased investment and reduced company tax, to drive that investment growth, innovation and jobs.

Mr President, you have here in Australia, great friends. You welcomed Lucy and I so warmly to the Élysée after we had our first encounter in Hamburg.

You are here among friends. Australia welcomes you.

We thank you for your friendship, for your partnership and we look forward to the partnership between Australia and France going to even greater heights under your leadership.

Thank you.


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