SCOTT MORRISON, Prime Minister of Australia, said the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the world like nothing in our lifetime. Welcoming the development of safe and effective vaccines, he said Australia has vaccinated more than 70 per cent of its adult population against the virus, while also helping countries across the region battle this pandemic with personal protective equipment, testing equipment and medical personnel. “And now we’re doing everything we can to help them with access to safe and effective vaccines,” he said, noting that Australia has delivered more than 3 million doses to countries across the Indo-Pacific, with millions more on the way. It has also contributed $130 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which has delivered over 5 million doses to south-east Asia and 1.7 million doses to Pacific family countries and Timor-Leste.
Meanwhile, he said, COVID-19 has underscored the vital importance of international cooperation and coordination. “The patterns of cooperation that have sustained our prosperity and security for decades are under increasing strain,” he said, as are the institutions that helped maintain that rules-based international order for over seven decades. Citing rising tensions over territorial claims, rapid military modernization, foreign interference, cyber threats, disinformation and even economic coercion, he said addressing such challenges requires cooperation and a common purpose among likeminded nations.
Emphasizing that Australia’s interests are inextricably linked to an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where the rights of all States — no matter how large or how small — are protected, he outlined its work in various forums including ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum, the “Quad” group and the new enhanced trilateral security partnership, known as AUKUS. He also spotlighted the country’s determination to help meet the global challenge of climate change, as the world makes the transition to a net-zero, global energy economy. The country has a proven track record when it comes to setting, achieving and exceeding its commitments to responsibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It exceeded its Kyoto commitments, and its emissions in the year leading up to March 2021 were 21 per cent below 2005 levels.
He also noted that Australia is investing some $20 billion to commercialize promising new technologies such as clean hydrogen, green steel, long-duration energy storage and carbon capture, which are vital to meeting the global task to achieve net zero emissions. As a proud, liberal democracy, Australia also always stands up for human rights, gender equality and the rule of law, and raises its voice on important issues such as the rights of women and girls and indigenous peoples, and for the global abolition of the death penalty.
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