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Press Conference – Berlin, Germany

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: I’m very pleased to have concluded a successful bilateral visit here in Germany before I depart to Lithuania to attend my second NATO Summit with my Indo-Pacific partners, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand. We’ll be having our IP Four meeting tomorrow morning and then addressing the NATO Summit, in addition to that I have a range of bilaterals. Australia and Germany’s partnership is an important one, and during this visit we’ve successfully concluded a range of issues for our mutual interest. Firstly, we’ve announced that Australia will be stepping forward to join the Climate Club that has been initiated by Germany. Like minded countries including all of the G7, countries such as Indonesia, Chile, and Colombia, that are taking action determined to have an ambitious climate change agenda. Secondly, we’ve discussed the opportunities that we have, both with the German government and with German businesses to cooperate, particularly in areas such as green hydrogen – we see this as an enormous two way opportunity. Green hydrogen, critical minerals, advances in the new economy present opportunities for Australia here in Europe, and part of that is the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement. I thank Chancellor Scholz for the very constructive role that he is playing in advancing the interests of both Europe and Australia in getting a good deal. Australia wants to conclude this agreement, but we won’t sign up unless it is in Australia’s interests and Chancellor Scholz is playing a very constructive role there. We also of course, have witnessed the signing of the agreement to provide one hundred Boxer Heavy Weapon Carriers here in Germany, that will be produced in Queensland. This is good for jobs, good for our national sovereignty, good for our economy, and good for the relationship between Australia and Germany. These jobs and this deal is worth in excess of $1 billion, and is one of the largest ever deals to export Australia’s defence industry in our history. Lastly of course, we’ve announced the deployment of the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and crew to Germany for six months. This will be a major contribution to the effort to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine, and is something that has been requested. We have said that we will work with Ukrainian friends, but also work with our partners here in NATO to provide what support we can for the effort which is being undertaken to defend the people and government and democracy of Ukraine. We understand that the impact of the Russian invasion on Ukraine has been felt around the world with a rise in global inflation and a weaker global economy, and that’s why it is in Australia’s interest to reach out and be involved. The NATO Summit meets as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, we’ll continue to provide support for Ukraine and I’m hoping to meet with President Zelenskyy over the next couple of days. I accepted the invitation to the NATO Summit because Australia’s security and our prosperity is always best served when Australia has a seat at the table. And this seat at the table is one that’s a recognition of Australia’s contribution and the fact that we are a significant player when it comes to defending democracy, defending the rule of law, and Australia standing is reflected by the fact that I’ve been invited to the last two NATO Summits. Today and tomorrow I’ll be meeting with my counterparts to discuss our shared goal of a more secure, stable and prosperous global community. I’ll be meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, senior leaders in the US Congress, the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Portugal, the United Kingdom, as well as Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, and other leaders over the next couple of days in Lithuania. And it’s a great honour to represent Australia at forums such as this, and I look forward to constructive dialogue over the next couple of days.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you are meeting Mr. Macron later today and we are having free trade talks with the EU concurrently. What are you going to say to him about the French protectionism of their agricultural business?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, my message to President Macron will be that we want to conclude this agreement, but that we won’t be signing up to things that are not in Australia’s national interest. And in particular, we want access to European markets, and we want to have the mutual benefit that comes from free trade between Australia and Europe. France of course has raised some issues, but I’m confident that they can be worked through and I’ll be having an open and constructive discussion with President Macron. But we’re not asking for anything that other countries have not received. It is important that Australia get access to those markets, and the world benefits from trade. One in four of Australian jobs is dependent upon trade which is why this agreement is so important.

JOURNALIST: And on the issue of the Wedgetail going to Germany and helping the NATO forces, why is there a six month time limit on that contribution?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s what we’ve been asked for. Deployments, of course, overseas are usually time limited before there are rotations. We’ve been asked as part of the effort by Ukraine, by our friends in NATO, including in particular, the United States for this. And I thank Chancellor Scholz for the fact that one hundred Australian personnel will be hosted here in Germany as part of this deployment. This is very much in in our interest to see the logistics around the Ukrainian effort defended, and that is what this aircraft will be able to do.

JOURNALIST: Just one quick last one on the releasing of Mr Chau.

PRIME MINISTER:¬†Australia very much welcomes the release of Chau Van Kham. This is an issue that I raised during my visit to Vietnam, which was a very constructive visit. And I thank our friends in Vietnam for listening and for agreeing during my visit there for this to occur. Chau Van Kham has now been able to be reunited with his family in Australia, we welcome that. It’s an example of how engagement in a constructive way achieves results in Australia’s national interest. And I was very pleased that Chris Bowen was able to represent me and welcome Chau Van Kham back to Australia.

Source : PM.GOV

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