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Doorstop at G20 Summit, Hamburg

7th July 2017  |  Comments  |  Transcripts

SUBJECTS: G20, Counter-Terrorism, Encryption, Marawi, North Korea.

E&OE…

PRIME MINISTER:

Good afternoon.

As you know this morning’s session was focused on counter-terrorism.

We had a very good, constructive discussion and I am confident that the communique will reflect the determination of the leaders of the G20 to send a very strong message to Silicon Valley and its emulators around the world that these wonderful applications and technologies that have been developed across the internet not be used as a means to enable terrorists and other criminals who seek to do us harm to hide in the dark in places where those of us leaders who have an obligation to keep our citizens safe cannot reach them. We cannot allow the internet to continue to be used as a means for promoting and concealing terrorism and criminalities.

I am confident that you’ll see a very strong and determined statement in that regard.

Now I should also say that today I have had a very constructive meeting with President Widodo, my very good friend, Jokowi. And you will have seen we’ve each made a commitment to bring the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to a conclusion by the end of the year. That’s very good.

As you know, I am here representing Australia, representing our national interest, committed to free trade because we know that free trade and open markets creates jobs in Australia – that’s proven – and the more markets, the more doors into the more markets we can open wider, the better.

And Indonesia of course is a very important market, a very important partner and neighbour and a very good friend too.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what are the sticking points on the Indonesia signature?

PRIME MINISTER:

I wouldn’t say they’re sticking points but in all of these negotiations there are a range of issues about classes of imports, you know, as to how much liberalisation can be offered but the important thing is - and by the way there is always a little bit of resistance to change on each side - but the important thing is you have a very strong message from the President of Indonesia himself with me saying that we have to get this deal done by the end of the year and I think that is a great development.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask you about the move to catch terrorist activity online? What specifically are you talking about here? Would it be intelligence agencies including in countries like Russia and China having some key to decode encrypted messages? What are you talking about?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I’m not, I’ve not suggested that. In fact, I’ve expressly rejected that.

Let me explain. Often people talk about backdoors, and what they mean by that is flaws in programmes, in applications which enable somebody to, if you like, reach in and have access when they shouldn’t.

And of course all programmes do have flaws in them. That’s why we get updates to, we have to update our software applications all the time.

I’m not talking about that at all. What we’re talking about is access in accordance with the law via a lawful process. You know, a search warrant type process.

JOURNALIST:

Right.

PRIME MINISTER:

So that is this type of lawful access you have, you’ve always had, but we have to recognise that we have developed, we, the world has developed these remarkable technologies. It is extraordinary that, you know, think about this – the smart phone is ten years old. The smart phone is only ten years old and look at the transformation. But we have to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

We cannot tolerate ungoverned spaces on the internet any more than you can tolerate them anywhere else.

JOURNALIST:

Was there any resistance to the proposal put forward today?

PRIME MINISTER:

It was a very frank discussion and I thought a very constructive one.

I think there is an absolute commitment to the rule of law prevailing. Obviously, these technologies present challenges in terms of how this objective can be achieved but I was glad to be able to discuss that candidly with other leaders.

JOURNALIST:

PM – what were you talking to Donald Trump about as you were walking into the picture?

PRIME MINISTER:

We were talking about terrorism and our region and in particular the importance of leadership in our region because we had had a discussion in the session just before which touched on the activities of ISIL or Daesh in the Philippines, particularly in the siege of Marawi as you know.

JOURNALIST:

And is he sufficiently sort of, you know, across all that do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve discussed these issues with him before and it was good to catch up and discuss those issues with him again.

JOURNALIST:

Was there any suggestion of Australia playing a greater role in the region in that regard?

PRIME MINISTER:

As you know we are already providing some support in the Philippines but obviously any further role we play is one we’d discuss with the Government of the Philippines.

JOURNALIST:

Any mentions of the refugee deal Prime Minister? Did you get a chance to –

PRIME MINISTER:

We –

JOURNALIST:

I know it was quick chat.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we haven’t. That is all progressing. As you’ve heard from President Trump and you’ve heard from Vice President Pence that is all progressing. It is now administrative matter.

JOURNALIST:

How would you describe how this G20 is progressing? It looks like there will be a difficult conversation being had on climate change. It looks like there is a lot of disagreement in this group. How would you describe the way that this one is progressing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think there are clearly difference perspectives. That’s why people get together so that they can understand each other’s different perspectives.

I think there is a very strong meeting of minds on the matter of terrorism and how to combat it. There is obviously a lot more than the internet dimension. We also discussed a whole range of other issues – de-radicalisation, the global nature of the threat, the spread of Islamist extremism into our region and so forth.

But clearly there are differences of opinion on trade. Now, you know, my position, Australia’s position is the same as it was at the G20 in Hangzhou a year ago and that is that protectionism is not a ladder to get you out of the low growth trap, it is a shovel to dig it deeper so we are for open markets and free trade and that is why we are working, as you saw this morning, with President Widodo to create more opportunities for Australian business to export.

JOURNALIST:

On North Korea – a very strongly worded three-way statement from Japan, South Korea and the U.S. has just gone out. Given what’s happened there, given this is sort of coming to a crunch moment – is it time and given the capacity of North Korea, it is time for Australia to rethink whether or not it has a missile shield of that style defence system?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are examining missile defence, in fact, we’re developing missile defences as you know, as you would’ve seen in our Defence White Paper. The focus is on protecting our forces both at sea and on the ground - our deployed forces in the field.

In terms of a missile defence shield for Australia overall, I know there has been some and you would’ve seen some briefings given in Australia while I’ve been away, there has been talk about the THAAD system – that’s not really suitable for our situation – but I can assure you that we are constantly examining how we can ensure that Australians are safe.

I do want to stress this. The answer in respect of North Korea is the denuclearisation of North Korea and for it to stop its reckless conduct, its reckless and provocative conduct, and as I said to you yesterday, the nation with overwhelmingly the greatest leverage over North Korea is China. And so we look to China to bring North Korea to its senses.

JOURNALIST:

Just on encryption – sorry.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay – righto – encryption.

JOURNALIST:

No, no, just a serious question though –

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure, yeah I’m sure it is.

JOURNALIST:

Because this isn’t really new. Theresa May made the similar plea that you have in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack. Six people were dead.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

We had a similar debate in the United States after San Bernardino. Fourteen people killed. If there was no impetus to make those changes then, will there ever be? I mean, is it ever going to happen do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that will depend on the determination of leaders and governments.

You really have to ask yourself this question – are you prepared to allow these wondrous technologies that have created so many opportunities, expanded so many horizons, are you prepared to allow them to be beyond the reach of the law in circumstances where they are being used by those who seek to do us harm?

Now I’m not talking about, you know, backdoors or anything covert, or anything of that kind. I’m talking about the rule of law.

Are we prepared, are we going to tolerate these great applications to be used by people who seek to do us harm and do so in circumstances where the law is not able to reach out to them?

I say the law must prevail. The rule of law must prevail online and offline. It must prevail on the internet and in the analogue world.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask you have you made arrangements to speak with President Xi at this meeting? If so, when and what will you say to him about North Korea?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not arranged a bilateral with President Xi and I have spoken to him already at the meeting.

The message that I have given to President Xi in the past - and I spent 90 minutes speaking with him at the APEC conference in fact at one point. I’ve discussed North Korea with him and indeed with Premier Li Keqiang at considerable length and my message to them is exactly the message that I make publicly which is that China has the ability to bring North Korea to its senses in a way that nobody else can absent military force and they should take that responsibility and act.

JOURNALIST:

So why aren’t they? Why aren’t they PM?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, you’d have to address that to the Chinese leadership but it is very clear that the escalation is becoming increasingly dangerous and that China has the unique ability to take action. Now of course there needs to be global cooperation. Sanctions should be imposed globally, as they are - they need to be complied with, they need to be strengthened. But the greatest leverage is with China and with the greatest leverage goes the greatest responsibility.

Now I must get back to the conference. Thank you.

[ENDS]

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