Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Australia-India-Japan-United States Quad Foreign Ministers Meeting
I thank Senator Henderson for her question and her interest in these issues. Australia regards the Quad as a positive diplomatic arrangement with an agenda to match. It brings together four like-minded democracies—Australia, the United States, India and Japan—committed to respecting and upholding international rules and obligations through positive, practical engagement to protect and support the sovereignty, the prosperity and the security of our region.
Late last week my three Quad counterparts and I discussed some of the most pressing issues facing our region, including our common recovery from COVID-19 in both health and economic terms and including our joint commitment to tackling climate change, the equitable distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and broader health security issues such as reducing the risk of future pandemics. Ministers and secretaries reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening the Indo-Pacific's health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in a way that helps us all, all countries in the region, reinforce their sovereignty and their resilience.
We particularly welcomed the new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, less than a month after his confirmation and welcomed strong engagement and energy from the United States, in relation to deepening Quad cooperation and regional engagement across the Pacific more broadly. This was the third meeting of the Quad at the level of foreign ministers following earlier in-person meetings in New York in 2019, last year in Tokyo in 2020, notwithstanding the COVID-19 challenges that travel presents, both of which I was pleased to attend. We have committed to meeting at least annually, and I am confident the value of these meetings will only grow and ensure our cooperation on tackling regional challenges deepens in a way that benefits our whole region.