Virtual Address, Summit for Democracy

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Speech
11 Dec 2021
Prime Minister
E&OE

Prime Minister: G’day, from Australia.

President Biden said earlier this year that this is a time for “renewal and resolve”.

And Australia agrees with our American friends.

This is a time to renew our faith in the values and principles that have lifted free peoples everywhere.

In the equality of all people.

In human dignity, expressed through freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.

In the rule of law and the ballot box, and a free press.

As the President has said, no democracy is perfect, but nor is any democracy ever final.

We also know from the evidence of human history that democracies are the engine room of change - be it social, economic or political.

Democracies are where innovation and enterprise flourish freely.

This is also a time for resolve.

Because we are living in a time of great uncertainty.

The rules-based order that has served us so well for so long, based on those important Liberal democratic principles - that has underpinned our stability and our prosperity - is under threat from growing autocracy in so many countries around the world, from rapid military modernisation, the undermining of international law, from disinformation, foreign interference and malicious cyber threats.

So we must work together to bolster and defend our democracies, as like mindeds, aligning together, with unity and purpose.

To maintain our sovereignty, and to support others to make decisions in their own sovereign interest.

Because we believe in a world order that favours freedom.

Expressed in a vibrant and pluralistic society, with an open economic outlook, the rule of law and respect for territorial claims, and support for the law of the sea.

We can’t be casual about these important values and beliefs.

They are integral to who we are as free peoples, who shape our own destinies, not have them determined for us.

Liberal democracies work. We know that.

They work because they respect the individual. They respect each and every human being and their dignity.

They respect property rights.

They value enterprise.

They encourage choice.

And they find solutions and deliver for the common good.

Sure, yes, our democracies, they can be loud - but the engine of change is always loud.

Ronald Reagan reminded us two generations ago, “Democracy is not a fragile flower. Still, it needs cultivating.”

We can’t be complacent about our democracies and the values that sustain them.

It was true when he said it then, it’s true now.

We all face unique challenges in our time, in our parts of the world.

Australia, we’re playing our part, as a vibrant, strong, Liberal democracy, who stands up for what we believe in.

And we are working with industry to counter disinformation and misinformation - a challenge that is common to all of us.

We’ve been boosting our ability to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference in our elections.

And we’re working in partnership with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to support free and fair elections in our region.

We are also reforming our autonomous sanctions laws, enabling us to bar the perpetrators of egregious acts of international concern from benefiting from the fruits of our democracy.

And we are continuing to champion the cause of human dignity, particularly the rights of women and girls - so often the victims of the oppression of autocracy and extremism.

The rights of Indigenous peoples - we have an ancient Indigenous living culture here in Australia.

And working for the global abolition of the death penalty.

In this time of renewal and resolve, we are proud to stand with our friends, true to our values, and confident that we can always make a positive contribution.

We’re great optimists in Australia - we always believe in a big future and a positive future.

And we appreciate very much being part of this important summit, which is all about living that hope.