Address to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

  • Speech, check against delivery

It's a pleasure to join you all here at the Vienna School of International Studies.

And it is a great privilege to talk about diplomacy in the home of Klemens von Metternich.

His achievements were both influential and controversial, and the Vienna Congress, chaired by Metternich, is studied by diplomats around the world.

It's an example to the world of how diplomats can prevent conflict and build peace.

It is also a reminder that this work is constant, especially in times of change.

Now, as the world experiences unprecedented change, diplomacy is more important than ever.

If diplomacy fails, the cost of our failure will be greater than ever.

Conflict has returned to Europe and the Middle East. We witness
tremendous cost and loss of life every day.

This terrible toll underlines that as diplomats, we must prevent conflict from spreading, including in our own region – the Indo-Pacific.

I use the word 'we' deliberately.

Our world is more connected than ever before through shared technologies, economies, trade routes, migration, scientific research, military capabilities and market forces.

The security of the Indo-Pacific is inextricably linked to the security of Europe.

What happens in the Indo-Pacific matters to Europe – and vice versa.

This is why, more than two years on, Australia continues to unequivocally support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Australia is proud to have contributed over AUD 1 billion of important defence, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

In addition to the terrible damage and loss of life in Ukraine, Russia's full-scale invasion has had global economic impacts.

Energy prices have skyrocketed around the world.

Supply chains have been disrupted, undermining global food security and spiking prices in markets around the globe.

Similarly, what happens in the Indo-Pacific matters for European security.

Australia recently joined partners to sanction entities in response to North Korea supplying missiles to Russia to fuel its war machine.

We know too that, conflict in the Indo-Pacific would have catastrophic economic impacts, not just in our own region, but for the globe.  

Global shipping lanes connecting one of the world's fastest growing and most productive regions, would be disrupted.

Supply chains to assemble the semiconductors that are an input for nearly every manufactured good – computers, smartphones, automobiles, and defence systems – could be disrupted for weeks, months, even years.

We saw a glimpse of the economic consequences of the disruption of these supply chains during the covid pandemic.

A disruption caused by a destructive conflict has the potential to be far, far worse.

Sadly, the risk of conflict in the Indo-Pacific has been growing in recent years.

The region is being reshaped by a series of wide-reaching changes.

Demographic shifts, climate change, and economic disruptions are fundamentally reshaping the region.

Against the background of these dynamics, we have seen the re-emergence of geostrategic competition.

China has pursued a rapid military build-up without strategic reassurance or transparency.

So called 'grey zone' threats – cyber-attacks, interference, economic coercion and disinformation – are proliferating.

Australia is not the only country to deal with dangerous behaviour on the sea and in the air in contravention of existing norms.

The more military aircraft and ships that are intercepted unsafely, the more likely miscalculations with disastrous consequences will occur.

In this way, the geostrategic competition that we are seeing in the Indo-Pacific is not simply great powers jostling for supremacy.

Rather, it is a contest to shape the way the region operates.

Australia's national interests are in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

A region operating by internationally agreed rules and norms.

A region where sovereignty is respected, and all countries are free to make their own decisions irrespective of their size.

A region where no country dominates, and no country is dominated.

A region of strategic equilibrium.

Our view is that all countries should be able to contribute to shaping the region we want.

To pursue this, Australia is using all the tools of statecraft – diplomatic, development, economic, military.

We're investing in our own sovereign capabilities to contribute to a favourable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.

We are enhancing our diplomatic capability to prevent conflict and advance our interests in the Indo-Pacific.

We are committed to finding diplomatic solutions to peace and security challenges, which is why we seek a seat on the UN Security Council for 2029-2030.

We are expanding development programs to meet the region's wider development needs and sustainability challenges, particularly by assisting our regional partners respond to climate change.

We are investing in our sovereign economic capabilities to establish Australia as a renewable energy superpower and to build resilient supply chains in critical minerals.

We are also investing in our sovereign defence capabilities, ranging from hard power defence investments to better industry resilience and supply chain security.

The AUKUS partnership between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom will provide Australia with a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability.

A capability already possessed by others in our region.

We are going about acquiring this capability transparently and with a commitment to setting the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard.

Australia's collaboration and consultation with the IAEA will remain strong.

Together we are committed to proceeding in full compliance with our international obligations.

AUKUS will also develop joint advanced military capabilities to promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

These include quantum technologies, advanced cyber capabilities, and artificial intelligence applications.

While we are investing in our own sovereign capabilities, we know that no country can, nor should, shape our region alone.

So, we're working closely with other nations in pursuit of our objectives, bilaterally, minilaterally and multilaterally.

Bilaterally we're deepening our existing relationships with allies and like-minded partners.

Our alliance with the United States remains central to our security.

And we have been deepening and broadening this alliance to new security agendas.

The Climate Compact we agreed with the US reaffirms climate and clean energy as the third pillar of our alliance.

We are expanding defence ties with the Republic of Korea, India and Japan.

Our bilateral relationship with the Philippines, covering defence, security and development, has been elevated to a Strategic Partnership.

Australia is deepening our engagement with Vietnam through a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which expands our cooperation on climate change, environment and energy, defence, economic engagement and education.

We're also looking to work with like-minded partners through minilateral groupings.

In the Quad, Australia, Japan, India and the United States have been working together to contribute to regional resilience and stability.

The Quad is a way for our nations to cooperate and contribute to a practical, positive agenda in the Indo-Pacific – by listening carefully to regional countries and offering choices that respond to their needs and priorities.

We work together on public health, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, cyber resilience and connectivity, maritime domain awareness and critical minerals supply chain resilience.

Finally, we seek to work with countries through established, multilateral institutions.

We use our agency to progress our global interests – regional stability, climate change, and public health – within the global multilateral system.

Unsurprisingly, much of our focus is on engagement with our immediate region, and the key multilateral institutions of our region, principally the Pacific Islands Forum and ASEAN.

Australia is a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum and is committed to the Forum's 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to achieve our shared vision for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pacific.

We engage in Talanoa, Tok Stori, and yarning circles.

These are forms of dialogue from across the Pacific and First Nations Australian culture that bring people together to share views openly, honestly and respectfully, without predetermined outcomes.

In the Pacific, before you can listen, you need to turn up.

We understand this and have invested in strengthening our relationships in the region.

Australia is the only country to have diplomatic missions in all members of the PIF.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong visited every single PIF member – 17 of them – in the first year of the Albanese government.

When we say we are part of the Pacific family, we mean it.

We share an ocean, a future, and a great passion for sport.

We are different in many ways, but Australia has a unique connection with the Pacific.

We are committed to engaging in the Pacific Way, prioritising respect and openness. 

Climate change is the greatest threat to our region, and our environment's security is essential for the safety of all in the Pacific.

We are helping the region transition to renewable energy, build climate resilience, and are increasing our climate finance.

We are sharing our climate adaptation innovations and helping the region obtain more climate funding from the main multilateral sources.

Our combined voices on the world stage are amplifying the region's call for global action on climate change. In collaboration with Pacific countries, Australia will bid to host COP31 to reinforce the threat to small island states.

We are committed to working with our partners in the Pacific to navigate our shared challenges and safeguard our collective peace.

In Southeast Asia, Australia has put ASEAN centrality at the heart of our engagement with the region.

Australia shares a region and shares a future with ASEAN.

We have a long record of deep engagement.

This year marks 50 years of partnership, which we celebrated when Australia hosted the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in my hometown of Melbourne in March.

In 2021, we agreed on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with ASEAN.

And our Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 will ensure our economic ties match the pace of the region's strong economic growth.

To put it simply, we've been busy!

There's much work to do.

It's in this context that we welcome increased European engagement with the Indo-Pacific.

The EU Indo-Pacific Strategy demonstrates how each region has a stake in the other's prosperity and security.

Europe makes a real contribution to strategic balance in our region, through its military presence, development cooperation and diplomatic assets.

Ongoing inter-regional meetings – such as the EU-ASEAN Summit and the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum – provide opportunities to discuss how we can better uphold international law, such as UNCLOS.

NATO has increased its engagement with the Indo-Pacific through cooperation with the IP4 – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

We remain open to concluding a free trade agreement with the EU, as a comprehensive and ambitious agreement is important economically and strategically, for both the EU and for Australia.

Although these negotiations have paused, they have not ended.

As practitioners of foreign policy, we work in complex and consequential times.

Metternich demonstrated how multiple countries can convene and adapt to evolving issues and reestablish equilibrium.

But he was not the last leader to champion this cause.

Because from the Congress of Vienna came the Concert of Europe, then the League of Nations, and then United Nations.

As diplomats we recognise the need to adapt our tradecraft.

From the Oriental Academy came the Consular Academy, then the Diplomatic Academy, also known as the Vienna School for International Studies.

In 1754, Empress Maria Theresa would not expect her academy to one day offer a Master of Science in Digital International Affairs degree.

However, I believe she would expect that diplomats engage with the changing world they operate in and evolve our tradecraft accordingly.

Nothing is inevitable in the relations between states, especially conflict.

There is no predetermined script for the future, and history is not determinative.

Our actions, our resilience and our cooperation will determine the future of the people we serve and represent.

All of us should learn from the generations of diplomats before us.

To achieve peaceful outcomes for our generation.

And to secure regional stability and prosperity and the generations to come.

Media enquiries

  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555