Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP presents Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Policy Exchange’s 2017 Disraeli Prize

Jul 11, 2017

Policy Exchange was delighted to award the 2017 Disraeli prize – in honour of Britain’s first Prime Minister from a minority background, Benjamin Disraeli.

The Prize was awarded to Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, the Prime Minister of Australia and presented by Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary.

Malcolm Turnbull is Leader of the Liberal Party and the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, and won re-election in a close fought contest in 2016 which saw the Liberal/National Coalition retain a majority government by a single seat.  He was Leader of the Opposition from 2008-9 and served as Minister for Communications under Tony Abbott from 2013-15.

A former Rhodes scholar with a degree in law, Malcolm Turnbull spent more than two decades as a journalist, lawyer, investment banker and venture capitalist  before finally entering politics in 2004 as the Member of Parliament for Wentworth in New South Wales.  His stance on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and renewable energy targets and emissions intensity schemes have brought him into tension with more conservative-leaning members of  his party over the years.

He is the author of The Spycatcher Trial (1988) which drew on his experiences whilst defending  Peter Wright, the former MI5 official who wrote the book Spycatcher and successfully stopped the British Government’s attempts to prevent the book’s publication in Australia.

Benjamin Disraeli is a giant of our shared parliamentary tradition.

So I am both grateful and humbled to receive the Disraeli Prize tonight.

Thank you to Dean Godson and the Policy Exchange.

Disraeli entered Parliament in 1837 after four unsuccessful attempts and spent three-quarters of his 44-year parliamentary career in opposition.

We look back at that era through a flickering sepia screen of sentimental memory and compare its apparent elegance to the unruly political times in which we live.

And yet the invective hurled at, and by, Disraeli would be more shocking today, than it was then.

He took no quarter and asked for none. He scrambled to the top of what he called the greasy pole despite being a Jew in an age when anti-semitism was the norm, and despite making his living as a novelist at a time when a Prime Minister’s qualification almost invariably came from their ancestors’ broad acres or, less often, from the law.

Of course as you look around the table at the G20 there are more than a few leaders – myself included – whose prospects of success seemed unlikely not so long ago.

As Disraeli’s contemporary, Mark Twain, observed – only fiction has to be credible.

The tenor of our times is change and at a pace and scale utterly unprecedented in human history.

And in such times what price political labels.

Is every boy and every gal that’s born into the world alive still a little liberal or a little conservative?

Is it conservative to support free trade and open markets as Theresa May and I did at the G20 as I did together with Shinzo Abe and Angela Merkel, I’m sure it is – or to call for more protection as many on both the self-styled “liberal left” and “conservative right” in the United States do today.

The truth is that the labels have lost almost all meaning in the furious outrage cycle of social media politics, long cast adrift to be appropriated, often cynically, by one politician or another as it suits their purpose.

At the heart of our political tradition, whether we describe it as the tradition of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom or the Liberal Party of Australia, is respect for humanity not in the mass, as the Left like to see us, but as individuals and families, Edmond Burke’s small platoons, Robert Menzies “forgotten people”.

So what we admire about our distinguished predecessors, from Churchill to Thatcher, from Menzies to Howard, is not their label but their dogged devotion to the principles of a free society under the law.

Sovereignty. Law. Security. Liberty.

In 1944 Menzies went to great pains not to call his new political party, consolidating the centre right of Australian politics, “conservative” – but rather the Liberal Party, which he firmly anchored in the centre of Australian politics.

He wanted to stand apart from the big money, business establishment politics of traditional “conservative” parties so styled of the right, as well as from the socialist tradition of the Australian Labor Party – the political wing of the union movement. Menzies said at the time:

“We took the name ‘Liberal’ because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his right and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea.”

It is important to remember the context of Menzies’ new Liberal Party. In 1944 our nations were still fighting a war against fascism. There had been plenty of local admirers of Mussolini and even in some cases Hitler before the War but, by this point, the authoritarian right had no appeal. The Soviet Union was still an ally in the war against Hitler, but the authoritarian Left had no appeal to most Australians either.

At the same time, laissez faire capitalism had not had a good run. The Great Depression had convinced many that the Government needed to play a much bigger role in the economy than the leaders of the Edwardian era would have ever imagined. So classical liberalism was out of fashion too.

The sensible centre, to use my predecessor Tony Abbott’s phrase, was the place to be and it remains the place to be now.

I mention this only to remind that when we quote Menzies, Disraeli, or other political leaders, we need to consider the historical context. Menzies sought a lesser role for Government in citizens’ lives than Labor did, but by our 21st century standards he was hardly an economic liberal. He believed in a highly regulated economy with high tariffs, a fixed exchange rate, centralised wage fixing and generally much more Government involvement in the economy than we would be comfortable with.

Of course he was not alone – his UK and even American counterparts had similar views.

It was a different age.

But a strong thread of principle, of value, connects our party, the Liberal Party, to that of Menzies – one that combines both the liberal and conservative traditions – John Howard’s broad church.

And it is best summed up in this way.

From its foundation more than sixty years ago, the Liberal Party has stood for freedom.

Nothing is more fundamental to our philosophy than a deep commitment to individual freedom and enterprise. The Liberal Party stands for freedom or it stands for nothing.

We in the Liberal Party believe Government’s role is to enable citizens to do their best – and that commitment to freedom is based in a deep, instinctive respect for the dignity and the worth of every individual. We respect each other when we say: you are free to chart your own course, to make your own choices, and strive to realise your own dreams.

Our opponents on the Left in their DNA believe to the contrary, that is Government knows best.

So in the balance between the individual and the State, our side of politics leans heavily in favour of freedom and the individual – preferring choice over prescription and freedom over regulation, always sceptical about the wisdom and the interference of governments.

The area where we must most carefully scrutinise the relationship between individual freedoms and Government intervention is national security.

Security and freedom are frequently represented as binary opposites – as if there exists a universe in which you could have one without the other.

But these two principles – prioritising public safety and maintaining individual freedoms – are not mutually exclusive. They can be – in fact, they must be – mutually reinforcing.

The question is not what freedoms to forgo for security. It is what security is required to enable our freedom.

The fundamental tenet of liberalism – going back to the classic work of John Stuart Mill – is that people should be free to pursue their own ideas provided their actions do not impede the rights of others to do the same.

This foundational principle of liberalism took on an even greater significance in the twentieth century when threatened by the modern totalitarian state.

The march of both fascism and communism led Karl Popper, to examine what he called “the paradox of freedom”.

Freedom he wrote, “defeats itself if it is unlimited. Unlimited freedom means that a strong man is free to bully one who is weak and to rob him of his freedom. This is why we demand that the state should limit freedom to a certain extent, so that everyone’s freedom is protected by law. Nobody should be at the mercy of others, but all should have a right to be protected by the state.”

And this of course is what we mean when we talk about democracy under the rule of law which constrains the majority as it enables it.

Or as Churchill observed once in the House of Commons, “Democracy is no harlot to be picked up in the street by a man with a tommy gun.”

Karl Popper’s paradox of freedom was not the rationalisation of a dictator crushing his enemies. To the contrary, Popper was fighting to defend what he called “The Open Society” of freedom, rationality and peaceful debate.

And this is what we in this room are fighting to defend today.

To defend the Open Society – to defend freedom – we cannot give free reign to its enemies.

And those enemies are resurgent.

Terrorism is the starkest and most urgent enemy of freedom. Terrorists seek to disrupt our freedoms and disable our societies based on trust through fear. They seek to create a society in which people are neither free nor secure.

It is in the very pursuit of freedom that we seek a stronger role for the State in protecting citizens against the terrorist threat. By fighting terrorism – with proportionate means – we are defending liberal values.

In order to be free a person must first be safe.

The reality is that individual freedom, liberty, the rule of law, and indeed national sovereignty, are under threat.

In a world of rapid change, we must constantly review and improve the policies and laws that will best keep us safe.  To set and forget would be easy, but it would not be right.

When a government abdicates its national security responsibilities the consequences can be fatal – and sometimes catastrophic.

Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world. 26 per cent of our people were born overseas, in my own city of Sydney the percentage is 37 per cent, and half the population have at least one parent born outside Australia.

Our migration nation is also very diverse with people drawn from every party of the world, the second most commonly spoken language at home in Sydney is Chinese, the third is Arabic.

And yet in an age of increasing uncertainty and friction we live together, citizens of a free society, in relative harmony.

This freedom is enabled by strong national security.

In particular our strong border protection policies have ensured that Australians know once again, as they did in John Howard’s day,  that it is only their Government which determines who comes to Australia and on what terms they can stay.

Howard’s strong policies were dropped by Labor when they were elected in 2007 and over six years there were 50,000 unlawful arrivals and at least 1,200 deaths at sea.

More than 14,500 refugees waiting in UN camps were denied a place under our offshore humanitarian program in those days – the places going instead to those arriving illegally by boat.

Taxpayers paid over A$10 billion for managing these arrivals – money that could have been spent on hospitals or schools.

It’s a record, a shameful record that utterly vindicates the Coalition’s border protection policies.

As Europe grapples today with unsustainable inflows of migrants and asylum seekers, the Australian experience offers both a cautionary tale and the seeds of a potential solution.

The lesson is very clear: weak borders fragment social cohesion, drain public revenue, raise community concerns about national security, and ultimately undermine the consensus required to sustain high levels of immigration and indeed multiculturalism itself.

Ultimately, division.

In contrast, strong borders and retention of our sovereignty allow government to maintain public trust in community safety, respect for diversity and support for our immigration and humanitarian programs.

Unity. Security. Opportunity. Freedom.

Australia continues to welcome around 200,000 migrants each year; we have issued an additional 12,000 visas for people displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and we increased our broader humanitarian intake by 35 per cent. This could not have happened if had not restored order at the border, maintaining strict security vetting and earn the Australian people’s trust that it is the Government that controls who enters Australia and for which purposes, not the criminal people smugglers.

I say to the critics of our border protection policies: Are these not precisely the outcomes that every just and decent society should seek? I believe they are, and I hope you do too.

And it’s this foundation that will allow us to effectively deal with the most pressing security challenge of our time – Islamist extremism terrorism.

While small in number, its adherents are resolute in murderous purpose.

They have already eroded a measure of public trust in our pluralism and cast doubt on the ability of our governments to protect their own people.

So we must answer this question – will we cower before their barbarism? Will we change the way we live in the face of these terrorists? Or will we defy them and defeat them as you are doing in the United Kingdom and as the men and women I met today with the Prime Minister at London Bridge and the Borough Markets are doing, defying and defeating those who seek to undermine our way of life?

Now in our response, we draw strength from the finest political tradition ever devised.

The values of Westminster are those of openness, mutual respect and the rule of law.

We believe that a good society is one that welcomes all peoples who commit to these core values. We believe that contending religions and philosophies should have to make their case in a marketplace of ideas. By comparison, the extremists are morally and intellectually bereft. They can offer nothing in life, so they promise glory in death.

It’s easy to scoff at the paucity of their vision – many have made the mistake of trivialising the threat they pose.

But as Disraeli once observed, “something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth”.

In the fight ahead, there is no space for the mush of moral relativism.

There is no justification for the mass murder of children at a concert in Manchester, or the killing of innocent people on London Bridge and at Borough Market – including the young Australians Kirsty Boden, who had rushed to help people who had been injured and Sara Zelenak, a young Australian au pair. I met today the two brave metropolitan police officers who gave her CPR and sought to save her life.

We must acknowledge, as so many Muslims acknowledge, that Islamist extremism is a disease within the body of Islam itself.

Equally we must recognise that Muslim leaders who stand for mutual respect and democracy whether at home or, like President Widodo of Indonesia, on the world stage are our best allies in the war against Daesh.

And we must also recognise that those who seek to tag all Muslims for the crimes of a tiny minority are doing precisely what the terrorists want them to do.

After all, their pitch to Muslims in Australian is “you don’t belong here, they don’t want you, this is not your home.”

The last thing we should do is confirm their poisonous propaganda.

The genius of Australia is that we define our national identity not by race or religion or ethnicity but rather by a commitment to shared political values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, equality of men and women, mutual respect – values accessible to all.

So we must never take a backward step from our values – lets face it, a bad idea does not become valid, let alone good, simply because someone claims it was divinely inspired.

Religion and tradition should be acknowledged, but the values that prevail in our society are our values, the laws that prevail in our society are our laws – and no others.

Now, as we honour our law enforcement and security services – who rush towards danger when others flee – we must ensure that they have the powers and resources to stay ahead of the threat.

As our adversaries’ methods and tactics evolve, so must ours.

The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than the safety of the public. The information security of a terrorist or a child abuser must not be protected above the personal security of our children, our communities and our values.

A government that gets this upside down would be abdicating responsibility; its duty of care to its citizens to keep them safe. It certainly is not helping freedoms cause.

This is where Mill’s view on liberty is so important – we must not allow harm to be done to individuals and communities where we can act.

This must be the case online as it is offline.

Now the question of Internet freedom is an important one. There is no institution or infrastructure more important to the future prosperity and freedom of our global community than the Internet. There has never been a more transformative democratising technology; its broken down national boundaries and distance. Not so long ago only States and large corporations had megaphones powerful enough to address a nation – now a tweet or YouTube video can reach millions, if not billions, and do so in seconds.

But these remarkable technologies that are designed to unite us are also being used by those who seek to do us harm.

We have seen how terrorists have used, trained in and developed operations in ungoverned places all around the world. This is why Australia and the UK are part of the international coalition to defeat the islamist terrorism of Daesh at its source in Syria and Iraq.

But as the so called Caliphate is destroyed, the terrorists will continue to sue the Internet for recruitment, planning and advocacy.

We cannot allow ungoverned spaces, whether offline or online, to be exploited by those who would do us harm.

The Internet must remain free and secure. But it cannot be ungoverned. Laws offline must apply online. Otherwise, freedom and security will both be lost.

To ensure terrorists are unable to operate with impunity in the ungoverned digital space, I set up a task force last month to drive action on our capability and response to cyber threats.

And just three days ago, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, the G20 agreed to work with industry in the pursuit of public safety and together fight terrorists and organised criminals.

We agreed we would “collaborate with industry to provide lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of national security against terrorist threats. We affirm that the rule of law applies online as well as it does offline.”

And I want to thank again as I did earlier today, Prime Minister May for her very strong support in ensuring that we got that strong consensus at the G20.

I will refer to two areas where we need to do more.

First, we need to secure swifter and more effective action by the owners of the big online services, like Facebook, Google and Twitter, to take down extremist material as soon as it appears. By and large I am confident that we can do more in this regard. I think there is plenty of goodwill.

Second, we need to address the problem of encryption. Now encryption is vitally important to protect our security online but just as a locked bank vault or a filing cabinet cannot resist a Court order to produce a document, why should the owners of encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal be able to establish end to end encryption in such a way that nobody, not the owners and not the courts have the ability to find out what is being communicated.

The G20 communique is not talking about giving Governments a backdoor to access messaging, nor is it seeking access to the source code that some countries are demanding of companies for the pleasure of doing business in their jurisdiction.

Rather it is saying to Silicon Valley and its emulators – the ball is in your court. You have created messaging applications which are encrypted end to end, they are being used by terrorists and criminals to hide their murderous plans.

You must ensure that these dark places can be illuminated by the law so that the freedoms you hold dear will not be stripped away by criminals your technologies have made undetectable.

This will be a difficult conversation in many places, and especially in the USA, where there is a strong, anti government libertarian tradition on both the left and the right.

But here is the bottom line – the best defence against terrorists’ plans is good intelligence. We have in the last few years in Australia disrupted twelve major terrorists plots, including several that would have resulted in large mass casualty attacks. How many more can we disrupt if every communication, by every conspirator, is encrypted end to end and cannot be read despite every lawful right, indeed duty, so to do?

So these are some of the challenges as we balance liberty and security, ensuring we have the security that enables our freedoms.

I want to conclude tonight by thanking you again, ladies and gentlemen, for the honour of the Disraeli Prize.

 

DEAN GODSON:

Prime Minister Turnbull has very kindly agreed to answer questions. Usual house rules – no question too outrageous, you just have to say your name and organisation first. Do I see any openers?

MATT RIDLEY – THE VISCOUNT RIDLEY DL, HOUSE OF LORDS:

Matt Ridley, House of Lords.

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh hello! How are you? Good to see you again.

MATT RIDLEY – THE VISCOUNT RIDLEY DL, HOUSE OF LORDS:

Very well thank you.

Prime Minister you’ve said that Britain could learn a lesson from Australia on immigration. What lesson can Britain learn from Australia on your very successful negotiation of comprehensive free trade agreements with China and other major nations?

PRIME MINISTER:

You’ve just got to get the deals done, Matt. Britain hasn’t done a free trade deal or trade deal for a very long time, since it joined the European Union. So there is obviously plenty of work to do to get the negotiating teams and the talent that you need to do it.

But basically if you believe, as your government does, as I believe both sides of politics do in Britain from what I’ve heard, that Britain needs to find as many open markets as it can, then you just have to get on and negotiate. And look, the chill winds of protectionism are blowing around the world in various places, some more strongly than others but I firmly believe that protectionism is not a ladder to get you out of a low growth trap, it’s a shovel to dig it much deeper.

JAMES MASSOLA, FAIRFAX:

James Massola, from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers. Thanks for your speech of course and I’d like to pick up a point you made about Sir Robert Menzies in founding the Liberal Party which I’m willing to guess is not going to go unnoticed back home. Can I ask do you believe that Menzies-

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I hope that people have noticed that he founded the Liberal Party.

(Laughter)

You’re reflecting very adversely on the historical education of Australians.

(Laughter)

JAMES MASSOLA, FAIRFAX:

Indeed, PM. Can I ask do you believe that Menzies’ legacy, and indeed that your governments agenda is in danger of being hijacked by the conservative wing of your party? Why have you made this point?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I think it’s very important as I said in my remarks – and indeed using the phrase Tony Abbott, the first person I heard use in our party anyway, the sensible centre – the path for our party was set by Menzies when he brought together both the liberal and conservative traditions and of course these labels will be most debased in social media outrage cycle of today, but he brought together those traditions. John Howard described it as a broad church. They are brought together and indeed they are shared by most of us, share both traditions, they are not exclusive. But the important thing was to set the party as a party of progress, indeed of innovation. Menzies gave a speech in 1966 I recall where he talked about innovation even more often than I normally do, James, so there is nothing new about Liberal Prime Ministers talking about innovation. But the focus has got to be on delivering for the people you represent and pretty much in any policy area and when I often talk about this in the area of energy, ideology is a very poor guide of policy. The focus has got to be on getting results so that is why I say in respect of energy for example my best guides are engineering and economists, not ideology and politics.

MICHAEL HOWARD – THE RT HON. THE LORD HOWARD OF LYMPNE CH QC, HOUSE OR LORDS:

Michael Howard, House or Lords.

PRIME MINISTER:

Michael, good to see you again. Thank you so much for coming.

MICHAEL HOWARD – THE RT HON. THE LORD HOWARD OF LYMPNE CH QC, HOUSE OR LORDS:

You are in an unrivalled position to assess the role which China wants to play in the world and the way in which we should respond. What insights can you share with us?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think Michael, that’s a big question – let me deal with the first part of it. Chinese people and Chinese leaders, including obviously Xi Jinping see themselves as being restored to the level of pre-eminence that is really the natural order of things. And Deng Xiaoping summed it up very well when he went south – he had a southern tour in the late ‘70s – as they started to open up China to the world.

If you go back 40 years, China wasn’t a closed economy but it represented only a few per cent of global GDP. And he went down there and he talked about the great Chinese navigator, Zheng He I think in about 1500 who set off on these great voyages across the Indian Ocean and you know through what we now call Indonesia and India and so forth, all around that area. And subsequent emperors closed China to the world. And Deng Xiaoping said in the days of Zheng He when we were open to the world we were strong, when we closed ourselves off we became weak and subject to foreign domination and oppression, invasion and so forth.

And so what the leaders have been doing is seeking to restore China to the prosperity that gives it naturally the preeminence that its population, nearly a quarter of the world’s population inevitably entails.

In terms of how Britain should deal with China, it should deal with China as we do – honestly, frankly, openly. We have an honest engagement, a very candid engagement. There are some areas of, well some areas where we would like China to do more. The obvious one, that both Theresa and I talked about today is with North Korea. You know that reckless and dangerous regime is putting the peace of the region and the world at risk, and while we don’t suggest that they’re doing China’s bidding at all, I mean it is not like East Germany was to the Soviet Union, this is a very unruly neighbor but nonetheless, China has the greatest leverage, the greatest ability to bring that regime to its senses without military force, and we are strongly urging Chinese leadership to do that.

ROBERT WRIGHT, THE FINANCIAL TIMES:

Prime Minister, Robert Wright from the Financial Times, you are currently seeking free trade deals with the UK, which I think is a very small proportion of your GDP and can’t do a deal immediately and a deal with the European Union which is one of the world’s two great trading blocs. I wonder how you think about how you allocate resources in the sense of urgency between doing these two deals?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I met with the Presidents of the European Council and Commission, Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker just in Hamburg a few days ago and we agreed that we will do all we could to reach agreement on Australia-European free trade agreement before Brexit. In fact, the aim is get to done before 2019.

Those people who are skeptical about the efficiency of bureaucrats and negotiators may feel that’s ambitious but that’s what we’re going to seek to do.

So that is the first priority but then when Britain is free to deal, after it leaves the European Union, we’ll be negotiating as quickly as we can. And we can, I can assure, negotiate multiple free trade deals at one time. We’ve demonstrated that. I mean the China, Korea, Japan free trade deals of the last few years were all under, they were all being negotiated simultaneously and we have quite a few others on the go at the moment.

Indeed, again at the G20 the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he’s generally known, he and I agreed that the trade deal that we’re negotiating between Australia and Indonesia which is called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA, that our goal is to get that done by the end of the year. Now that’s a very strong commitment and leadership on his part and my part, but I think it gives you an indication that we just want to forge ahead.

Again, I make no bones about this, the more doors to more markets I can open for Australian business to enter the better. That’s my goal. Free trade and open markets are a big part, a huge part of our 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

ANDREW MACLEOD, KINGS COLLEGE:

Thank you Prime Minister, Andrew Macleod – Committee for Melbourne – sorry, used to be Committee for Melbourne. Kings College I should say. You talk about opening up markets. Now Australia was a leader in creating APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, one of the great positives from that is the APEC Business Travelers Card. Now that Britain will be leaving the United Kingdom is there a role that we could perhaps look at creating an APEC Business Travelers Card system in the Commonwealth to encourage trade in the Commonwealth and is that something that Australia and Britain could perhaps do?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is something we’ll certainly put on the agenda. But again, we want to do everything we can to facilitate trade and trading opportunities for Australian businesses and of course for foreign businesses to do business with us Australia. That is our position. It is very, very clear. The more opportunities the better.

HARVEY ODZE, THE BOROUGH OF HACKNEY:

Harvey Odze from the Borough of Hackney. Firstly, I’d just like to say that my youngest son is one of those people you mentioned in your address who is an Australian citizen with foreign parentage.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well he’s not Robinson Crusoe.

(LAUGHTER)

HARVEY ODZE, THE BOROUGH OF HACKEY:

When you spoke about the importance of combatting extremist Islamic terror in many ways, in your role as a neighbour and a fellow member of the Commonwealth of New Zealand, next time you meet Bill English, do you think it would be possible to persuade him that his governments action in UNESCO are undermining that role?

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, I will as Chris Uhlmann’s friend at the ABC Tony Jones would say, I’ll take that as a comment and I’ll reflect on it. I don’t know enough about the matter you’re referring to. Thank you.

QUESTION:

I’m from the Chinese Embassy, good evening Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good evening.

QUESTION:

It seemed to me that the British Government is pretty receptive to the Belt and Road Initiative and that the Chancellor said that China and the UK are natural partners because China is the eastern side, and the UK is the western side of the initiative. So what is the position of the Australian Government? I feel that you’re a little bit hesitant. Do you consult each other on how to work together with China or with the World on the Belt and Road Initiative? Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

There was a big conference in Beijing recently – Belt and Road Conference. Our Trade Minister Steven Ciobo attended it. There is a lot of investment, Chinese investment in Australia. We have a very strong relationship with China. It goes well beyond economics as you know, there is a lot of Australian business in China. Lucy and I more than 20 years ago now actually established a zinc mine in China. So I’ve been an investor in Chinese mining actually. Most mining investment is coming the other way.

From our point of view we assess all foreign investment on its merits. It is much easier to invest in Australia as a foreigner that it is for example to invest in China as a foreigner. We are a very open economy. We welcome investment and we look forward to deepening ties and links in that regard and in other respects as well. So I think the relationship is very strong and getting stronger.

RORY BROOMFIELD, FREEDOM ASSOCIATION:

Rory Broomfield from the Freedom Association. You mentioned immigration in your speech with reference to security but given that we are leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom is leaving the EU, another freedom that we’ll have is reframing our immigration policy to the rest of the world. I wondered what thoughts and recommendations you could give to our Home Secretary on reframing our new immigration policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everyone gives me advice how to run Australia – I’m not going to tell anyone else how to run their country. But look, I just repeat, I just refer you to what I said in my remarks that I think controlling your borders is absolutely critical.

John Howard summed it once when he said we decide who comes to Australia and the circumstances in which they come. It is absolutely demonstrably the right thing to do. You have to be in a position where whoever comes across your border, whether they be a business migrant, whether they be a student coming to do a course at a university, whether they are a humanitarian entrant, a refugee, the government must make that decision on behalf of the people whose country it is. It is a fundamental incident of sovereignty so when you outsource your borders, you outsource your sovereignty. And that enables you, if you control your borders, as we have – there has not been one successful people smuggling venture to Australia in more than 1000 days – if you can control your borders and maintain that integrity then you have the social license to have a generous migration program including a generous humanitarian program as we do – one of the largest on a per capita basis. This is not a theoretical proposition.

Kevin Rudd, no relation to the Home Secretary, actually did drop Howard’s policies and we know what happened. So there is no question – you’ve got be able to control your borders. Different countries and geography and so forth can make that more or less difficult but it is absolutely critical and I think that’s, I know that, well I’ll let the Home Secretary express her own views on this but I have no doubt that she believes that Her Majesty’s Government in right of the United Kingdom should determine who comes to this country, these islands and nobody else.

MAK CHISHTY, COMMANDER OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE, RETIRED:

Thank you very much Prime Minister. Mak Chishty, a recently retired Commander with the Metropolitan Police. Not deliberately trying to take the debate away from free trade or immigration but I just want you to return to terrorism. What really struck accord with me was your description of these terrorists have got nothing to offer in this life and that is why they’re focused on the afterlife. I think those sort of messages need to be driven home and there needs to be more focus and concentration, especially with the establishments like mosques to talk more about the life and their responsibilities here. But sometimes we get from a small minority quite a disproportionate response back into the public which frightens a lot of middle mainstream Muslim communities in particular. How has your message been received in Australia and what’s the response been from your communities across your nation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Every time I talk about this issue I talk about inclusion. The points I’ve made tonight, the Australians in the audience have heard many times. The terrorists are the ones that want to divide us. We must not become amplifiers for their poisonous propaganda. They have to be called out. You know, this Islamist terrorist extremist movement or, I’m not sure whether that’s a philosophy – hardly much philosophical about it – ideology is probably the best word – this Islamist extremist ideology is as we know, it is blaspheming and destroying Muslim societies, or seeking to destroy Muslim societies and the vast majority of their victims around the world are Muslims, as you know. So we have to support those who make the case for inclusion, we have to give them the solidarity that they deserve and they need. And that’s why I am always delighted to be with Joko Widodo. Jokowi is the democratically elected leader of the largest majority Muslim country in the world and he stands there and says, he’s got plenty of critiques of course as all politicians do, but he says Indonesia proves that Islam, moderation, tolerance and democracy are compatible. It is a very, very powerful message and I always encourage him to speak more on the world stage. Jokowi is one of the great leaders of our times, believe me. He is such an extraordinary example. In this particular battle, he is a really powerful advocate for the values that we all share and that you I know in your service in the Metropolitan Police for which I know everyone thanks you, and I do too, that you’ve always embodied too.

So thank you very much indeed.

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