Having been appointed Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs I look forward to the opportunity to contribute in this critical policy space.

Australia has an important role to play in a challenging world. We are the world’s thirteenth largest economy, sixth largest land mass and strategically placed at the heart of the Indo-Pacific.

As a proud democracy with world leading public institutions and policy settings, Australia has much to offer through our relations with other countries and our thoughtful participation in international forums.

We should always promote and defend our values; work to ensure the safety and security of Australians; pursue settings that underpin peace and prosperity; and seek to be a strong, respectful and reliable partner of choice for other nations.

We must have our eyes open to the world as it is, including the threats to Australia and to the stability of our region. That requires Australia to have strong security partnerships, promote a robust international rules based order, be a forceful advocate for human rights and a valued participant in international efforts to tackle climate change, COVID and the other challenges of our time.

Australia’s international architecture is strong but requires constant vigilance and care. In security terms our anchor point is the bedrock alliance created by ANZUS, coupled with partnerships such as intelligence cooperation via the Five Eyes, the growing role of the Quad and the new role of AUKUS. In regional cooperation we value our status as ASEAN’s oldest Dialogue Partner, as a proud, active member of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Multilaterally, Australia should never forget our role as a founding member of the United Nations and the contribution we continue to make to setting international rules and norms.

As a former minister in portfolios of finance, trade and education, I am especially committed to the opportunities of effective economic diplomacy and continued trade liberalisation. Strengthening international business to business ties via relatively recent trade agreements Australia secured under the Coalition with Indonesia, India, the United Kingdom, regional partners in RCEP and PACER Plus is crucial, as are the long term people to people ties from our vibrant international education sector.

Australia’s foreign policy settings enjoy significant areas of bipartisan support. We should seek to engage the world with one voice where possible and, where appropriate, I look forward to constructively working with foreign minister Penny Wong.

I pay tribute to the work of previous foreign minister Marise Payne, who developed effective influence around the world with an approach based on trust, honesty, thoughtfulness and principle. Under Marise, who built upon the work of Julie Bishop, we saw Australia further strengthen our network of important alliances and strategic partnerships, including:

Elevation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia to ministerial and leader level dialogue.

  • Creation of the AUKUS partnership, enabling deeper trilateral security cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States.
  • The opening of six new diplomatic missions across Pacific Island nations, placing Australia as the only country with missions in all Pacific Island Forum nations, along with increased support for Pacific infrastructure, development assistance, COVID assistance and climate financing.
  • Building on Australia’s long-standing close partnership with ASEAN by becoming the first country to enter into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with ASEAN.
  • Successfully enhancing Australia’s influence in multilateral institutions, including the election of Australian candidates to leadership roles at the OECD, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Australia has many friends, contributors and stakeholders who actively participate in the development and application of our foreign policy. I look forward to working closely with them over the years ahead, as I do the new Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism, Kevin Hogan, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Michael McCormack, and Shadow Assistant Ministers Claire Chandler and Rick Wilson. I congratulate them on their appointments.