Australia faces a less stable, more dangerous world.
Even before the pandemic, we were already seeing rising nationalism, fraying multilateralism and escalating competition between the great powers.
All of these problems have only accelerated because of COVID, and all of them are a risk to Australia’s interests.
It’s not the first time Australia has faced serious threats.
In those times, it was Labor that had the vision and character to lead Australia through.
It was John Curtin who led Australia out of our darkest days of World War Two; whose turn to America delivered our security and paved the way for the alliance that endures.
It was Doc Evatt who helped Australia and the world secure the peace, helping drive the creation of the multilateral system that meant small and medium countries were able to work together, and not just be subject to the will of the great powers.
More recently, during the Great Financial Crisis, it was Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan who drove transformation of the G20. With Australia at the table it became the most important forum for the world’s biggest economies, and steered the global response to the GFC.
And even in times less perilous, it’s been Labor leaders who have helped Australia define its place in the world.
Who’ve made us more self-reliant; and more ambitious.
Gough Whitlam, the first modern Western leader to engage with China.
Paul Keating and Gareth Evans, seeking our security in Asia - not from Asia.
And Julia Gillard paving the way for our expanded partnership with India – a relationship critical to the future of our region.
Contrast this vision with the shallow and reflexive approach we see today.
Our world is being reshaped and Australia has to work harder to secure our interests.
We have to act to shape the world and region we want – one that not only respects sovereignty but is also stable and prosperous.
We have to return to our leadership role, being a partner of choice in our region, helping our neighbours.
But we have a prime minister who only governs for himself, who puts his own domestic political interests ahead of the national interest.
Who is mired in political crisis.
Who makes the biggest government spend in Australian history on defence equipment, but hasn’t delivered on our security requirements and hasn’t increased our homegrown defence industry capability.
A prime minister who talks tough on China, but has overseen Australia becoming even more dependent on China for exports.
Who leaves behind hundreds of thousands of Australians whose jobs depend on trade and whose ministers blame farmers for their exports not making it to market.
Exporters need a government that’s on their side, building relationships and securing new markets.
Delivering Australia’s interests and protecting Australian jobs.
To do this we have to work with allied nations and aligned nations in our region.
We have to renew multilateralism.
And we need leadership – not political management.
With these words I move that Chapter 7 of the National Platform be adopted.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.