ADDRESS TO THE 49TH ALP NATIONAL CONFERENCE | SECONDING CHAPTER SEVEN: AUSTRALIA’S PLACE IN A CHANGING WORLD
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I think every minister has been struck by the consequential moment of time in which the Albanese Government has come to power.
When Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border last February, everyone expected that the conflict would last weeks, if not days.
No one imagined that eighteen months later, Ukraine would be standing defiant and proud.
The war in Ukraine is clarifying.
We’ve seen an autocracy look beyond the established rules-based order and engage in modes of behaviour which we thought had been consigned to history.
We’ve seen the power that comes from working with our friends and allies in the international community in applying sanctions, but in helping a country in need.
And we have seen a truly inspirational example of the indomitable human spirit, the force of will which changes everything, even in the face of a great power.
That the war in Ukraine has defied all predictions tells us that our world, and indeed our region, is uncertain – but that we do have agency.
It tells us that we live in serious times, requiring serious people, and that the narrow minded, gratuitous way in which the former Liberal government was running defence and foreign policy is hopelessly inadequate for the times that we now face.
It tells us about the importance of diplomacy being the frontline of the way in which we engage with the world – with our major trading partners, our allies, with great powers, but with a heavy emphasis on our near region, the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
And it tells us about the importance of getting the hard power equation right, which is what this Government is doing in its response to the Defence Strategic Review.
Because increased military capability gives us greater self-reliance. And a self-reliant Australia is what is at the heart of the chapter that we now submit to you.
FRIDAY, 18 AUGUST 2023