Thursday, 17 October 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is for Senator Cormann, representing the Prime Minister. On 3 October 2019 the Prime Minister, during an address to the Lowy Institute, highlighted that 'unelected international bureaucracies' are pushing for a 'borderless global community' that aims to damage 'our livelihoods, our safety and our sovereignty'. Twenty-five years ago, your state's Liberal Premier, Richard Court, warned of the dangers of unelected international bureaucracies, in his book Rebuilding the Federation, and specifically named the United Nations. Twenty-three years ago, Pauline Hanson, MP, called out the UN's 1992 Rio Declaration Agenda 21. When can we expect the Australian government to remove us from the following damaging treaties, protocols and declarations: the UN's 1975 Lima Declaration, the UN's 1992 Rio Declaration for 21st century global governance, the UN's 1996 Kyoto agreement and the UN's 2015 Paris Agreement?
Let me just say right upfront that I was at the Lowy Institute speech by the Prime Minister. It was a great speech, and I would invite all colleagues to read it in its full context.
What I would also say, by way of a second point, is that Australia is the world's 13th largest economy, and we do take our international responsibilities very seriously. But that doesn't mean that, from time to time, we don't express a view about things that could be improved when it comes to the international architecture that we operate in. From time to time, it needs updating. Indeed, we have expressed the view in relation to our multilateral trading infrastructure that there are some improvements that could and should be made, and that is something that we are articulating forcefully in the appropriate forum.
You've also mentioned Richard Court. Senator Dean Smith and I both had the privilege to serve in the office of the outstanding and distinguished former Western Australian Premier Richard Court. That was a very memorable period. Richard Court did a lot of great things for the great state of Western Australia, so I'm pleased you're aware of all contributions he's made over the years.
Let me conclude: I would encourage every senator in this chamber and, indeed, all Australians to read precisely what the Prime Minister said in his speech at the Lowy Institute. There's a lot of verballing going on, in particular by the Labor Party, and selective quoting, as Senator Payne quite rightly points out. We are absolutely committed to doing the right thing internationally, and we take our international responsibilities very seriously indeed.
Twenty-five years ago, as I said, Liberal Premier Richard Court warned of the dangers of unelected bureaucracies in his book, Rebuilding the Federation. He said: 'These international agreements are made primarily by people outside Australia. The terms and conditions are set by officials from other countries. While Australia takes part in the negotiations, it does not exercise a dominant influence. The foreign countries do.' For the past 25 years, why have Liberal governments ignored this advice? It's time to put Australia first.
While I once served in the office of former Premier Richard Court—now His Excellency the Australian Ambassador to Japan, and he's doing an outstanding job there, too—let me just say that I represent the Prime Minister in this chamber, and not a former Premier of the great state of Western Australia. I note the comments that Senator Roberts has provided, but let me also refer the chamber to my first answer, and that is that Australia, as a middle power, does take its international responsibilities seriously, and we are an active and constructive participant in all of the relevant international fora, always pursuing Australia's national interest. We are always pursuing and advancing Australia's national interest. Of course, we are represented with distinction by our outstanding foreign minister, Senator Payne, who does a great job on our behalf. We are represented by fine public servants— (Time expired)
Although the Prime Minister didn't quite have the courage to name the United Nations as the unelected international bureaucracy that he was condemning, when can we expect Australia to have the courage to exit the United Nations and allow Australians, through the ballot box, to determine Australia's future, rather than unelected, unaccountable socialist bureaucrats?
We are a founding member of the United Nations. We will not be leaving the United Nations, but that doesn't mean that we can't strive to improve the operation of international bodies that we are part of. Any organisation made up of human beings is always able to be improved; it's not ever flawless. So I think that it is quite appropriate for the Prime Minister, in a comprehensive foreign policy speech, to assess all of the issues that we believe are important from Australia's national interest point of view, and that is indeed what he did. I commend the Prime Minister's speech to you again as I did before.