Statement on behalf of Australia (Permanent Observer), Organization of American States General Assembly Peru 2022, Lima

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you

Your excellencies, members, observers, ladies and gentlemen.

I am honoured to be speaking with you today on my first visit to the region as a Minister. And I very much welcome Australia’s permanent observer status to the OAS, the principal regional organization in the Americas.

It is a great opportunity to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and acknowledge the generous hospitality and productive meetings that I received in Lima. And thanks Secretary General Almagro and Foreign Minister Landa for the warm welcome.

It is an exciting time to build on the many similarities that connect our countries and regions.

The world is emerging from the first global pandemic in over a hundred years, yet there are further challenges that we must confront together to reverse the effects of COVID-19 on development gains.

Including, particularly, the vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young people and women and girls.

But that’s the value of dialogue with partners, to overcome these challenges for the benefit of all.

It is appropriate that the topic for Australia’s first participation as a permanent observer is “together against racism and discrimination”.

Australia is proud of its diverse heritage. We are a nation were half of our people were either born overseas or have a parent born overseas.

Our people come from over 300 ancestors and speak over 350 languages.

Australia is a nation that brings together people from across the world, a nation that shares common ground with so many of the world’s peoples.

Multiculturalism is in our nation’s ethos; it is in our identity.

We are also home to the oldest continuous culture on the planet, that dates back more than 60.000 years. Let’s reflect on that for a moment. More than 60.000 years.

With over 250 indigenous languages and 800 dialogues, languages that connect people to country, culture, and ancestors.

But we recognised that indigenous Australians have not always shared in Australia’s successes and Australia has not always listened to the voices of our indigenous peoples.

The Australian government in which I serve is determined to make real progress on the national journey of healing with indigenous Australians. The first peoples of our continent.

This is at the forefront of our national and foreign policy agenda. Prime Minister Albanese has led calls to enshrine the voices of indigenous Australians in our national identity and our Parliament.

And the government is appointing an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples to guide the development of a First Nation’s foreign policy agenda and to strengthen our rights internationally.

Another focus of our foreign policy agenda is our relationship with our partners in the Indo Pacific, it is natural that Australia has a strong focus in this region. For Australia our geography means much of our economic orientation is towards the Indo Pacific.

But our relationship with the Americas, including Latin America and the Caribbean continues to grow.

And like this region, the Indo Pacific relies on a strong interregional and multilateral rules and norms to prosper.

Upholding this norm is critical to peace, stability and prosperity where all of our countries can cooperate, trade and thrive. And I know that these elements are equally important to the countries in the OAS.

And Australia looks forward to exchanging ideas with you, and to continue to engage with all of you in all the multilateral forum, including on climate change, a new priority for the new government.

And it is great to witness the OAS’s work to promote sustainable development and to address the threat opposed by climate change.

It is important to maintain collaboration and momentum to secure a sustainable future, and we wish all members a productive meeting ahead and look forward to the outcomes and discussions in this forum.

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