Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY

SPEECH

 

MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

ANKARA, TURKEY

 

MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2015

 

It’s a real thrill to be here this morning.

I always enjoy the chance to visit universities, and to speak with young people.

University was a valued time in my life.

I was only the second generation of my family able to attend.

It helped me work out who I was, what mattered most, and what I wanted to do to help others.

Most of all, what I remember from my uni days is the freedom and the sense of possibility.

I went to uni as a young man – I didn’t even turn 18 until the middle of my first year – I just couldn’t wait to get into it.

Now, when I visit universities, I still get a sense of the same excitement and energy.

When I meet students like you: the leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers who will shape the world of 2025 and 2050…

I’m excited by what you will achieve, the difference you will make, the way you will help our world.

This is my first visit to Turkey, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a guest in your remarkable country.

I came here last week to represent the Australian Labor Party at the commemorations of the centenary of the Gallipoli landings – or as its known in Turkish history, the Canankkle.

Sometimes, back in Australia, we can fall into the trap of thinking that the Gallipoli campaign was all about us, the Aussies and Kiwis.

But being there, seeing representatives from Britain, India, France, Ireland, Canada and, of course, Turkey – reminded me that Gallipoli is not just an Australian, or an Anzac story.

The impact of what happened on that rugged stretch of coast a hundred years ago runs deeper and wider than that.

Sometimes, in Australia, we say of our fallen soldiers: ‘If you want to know what they believed in, look around you’ – we point to our free society, our strong democracy, our people safe and at peace.

Here in Turkey, that truth is as powerful.

The First World War didn’t just broaden the identity of modern Turkey – it created the nation you live in, and love.

I find it truly remarkable that the tragedy and senseless death of 100 years ago was an irrecovable milestone in the formation of three nations – Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

But on my visit to Turkey I wanted to do more than pay my respects to our shared history, important as this is.

I’m here today to talk about our shared future.

The future challenges and opportunities that are in front of all of us.

The big changes, the defining trends and global shifts that will shape the world we live in, in the decades ahead.

  • Security and peace

  • Climate change and clean energy

  • Population change and the equal treatment of women

  • Digital disruption and new technology


It’s true, each of these has local effects and local elements.

But none of these problems can be solved by one country acting on its own.

They all require international co-operation and an international commitment to shared solutions.

They all require global leadership, backed up by actions that set the example.

SECURITY and PEACE

Right now, all of us are being tested by new threats to our peace and security.

Terrorism is a transnational threat.

It’s an attack on our way of life and our social cohesion.

Overcoming this threat depends upon international co-operation and international consensus.

A consensus built on civil discourse and interfaith dialogue, engaging with leaders from every faith in our community.

Turkey and Spain’s co-operative efforts in the Alliance of Civilisations initiative, is an example of the kind of leadership we need to apply around the world.

In Australia, we’re proud of our tradition of promoting multilateralism and the international rule of law.

One of our most distinguished Foreign Ministers, Herbert ‘Doc’ Evatt played a central role in establishing the United Nations and drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And ever since, we’ve demonstrated a longstanding commitment to UN peacekeeping missions, including serving side-by-side with Turkish forces in Korea and Somalia.

This co-operation endures in Turkey’s commitment to the international humanitarian effort underway in Iraq and Syria.

I can assure you the Australian Labor Party is fully supportive of the Australian contribution in Iraq.

We’re there to help build the Iraqi security forces’ capacity, allowing them to eventually control their own security needs.

And our ongoing support hinges on the Iraqi government and security forces continuing to act within acceptable international standards.

POPULATION CHANGE and INEQUALITY

The second issue we face is demographic change, shifts in our population trends – and the impact this has on inequality.

Right now, in Australia, we’re having a big conversation about our ageing population.

We are living longer than ever before and that is great news.

But it poses new questions for the way our country works.

How can we guarantee people who have worked hard all their lives, and paid taxes all their lives, security and dignity in retirement?

How can we make sure that older workers have the skills to train and re-train as the economy changes, so that they’re not passed over or left behind?

How can we help more Australians enjoy greater retirement incomes, become independently comfortable in retirement, reducing the pressure on pensions and taxes?

The population story here in Turkey is very different.

We’re planning for an Australia where one person out of every three is over the age of 60.

Here, two in every five people are under the age of 22.

This is a good news story too.

Young people are a wonderful natural resource for any country, more valuable than any precious metal or mineral.

And I believe it’s the job of government to help every young person fulfil their potential, to give them the skills, smarts and opportunities to succeed.

You’re going to be the first generation to work entirely in the digital age.

The big winners in this era will be countries that create the machines that make high quality products and deliver specialised services.

Building machines, designing, developing, financing, operating and refining them.

It’s up to government to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to learn the skills essential to this success.

And this means building an economy that includes everyone in the benefits of prosperity.

This is why I have been greatly impressed by Turkey’s objectives for its Presidency of the G20.

Turkey has said that the 2015 G20 will focus on: “Inclusiveness, Implementation and Investment”.

A fairer, more inclusive global economy, committed to tackling the growing problem of inequality.

The biggest drivers of economic growth in developed nations over the last decade have been globalisation, technological change and market-oriented reform.

These trends have lifted millions of people out of poverty, especially in Asia but also in this region where this is created or compounded by conflict.

But at the same time, they have magnified inequality for those left behind.

Not just inequality of income, but inequality of access.

I’m talking about access to affordable healthcare, quality education, new technology and civic amenities, even to things as basic as clean air and clean water.

Bridging this gap is a challenge for the world economy as a whole: advanced and emerging economies alike.

And this is why Turkey’s leadership on this issue, bringing new urgency to the task through the G20, is so important.

The party I lead, the Australian Labor Party, has never subscribed to the notion that our nation, indeed our world, has to choose between a strong economy and a fair society.

Fairness is not the child of prosperity – they are twins, each one supports the other.

The best pathway to economic growth is not to sit back and hope that wealth will trickle-down from the top, it’s to grow the economy from the bottom up, broadening the middle class and lifting everyone to a better standard.

That’s an objective Turkey, Australia and share – our task is to make this model work for the world.

CLIMATE CHANGE and CLEAN ENERGY

If the challenge of maintaining peace and preserving national security is an immediate priority…

And re-framing the economy with a focus on giving everyone a fair share in the national prosperity they create is a long term goal…

Then tackling climate change is both - and it is more.

Climate change is an environmental issue, it is an economic issue and it is a security issue.

And frankly, if the world gets climate change wrong, if self-interest and short-termism triumphs over meaningful progress, then nothing else will matter too much, for too long.

Again, this is an international problem that demands an international solution.

And I’m encouraged by the direction the world is moving in.

The historic agreement reached between China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies and its two biggest polluters has injected new momentum into the global negotiations ahead of the Paris conference.

There’s a passage from their joint statement that I think crystallises the global argument for dealing with climate change:

…smart action on climate change now can drive innovation, strengthen economic growth and bring broad benefits – from sustainable development to increased energy security, improved public health and a better quality of life.

Tackling climate change will also strengthen national and international security.

When the world’s two economic superpowers and 40 per cent of its global emissions put it like that – then there is simply no excuse for us to drag our feet.

The relationship between climate change and national security is worth emphasising.

Emissions trading schemes will be the fastest growing market of the 21st Century - and they create economy-wide incentives for clean energy, and more efficient energy use.

Effective action on climate change provides a strong price signal to diversify the national, and global, energy mix.

Turkey knows as well as any country on earth that uncertainty or disruption in energy supply can have a sudden and disastrous impact on economic growth.

Investing in reliable renewable energy acts a shock absorber, an insurance policy for natural disasters and political instability that can threaten conventional energy supply. You are showing the way here with significant investment in geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and cogeneration in industry.

We don’t have all the answers on climate change yet, no country does.

But if we continue to co-operate, if we continue to face up to the scale and size of the challenge, if we maintain urgency in the face of those who would seek to deny there is a problem – then I’m confident we can, and will, find a solution.

Conclusion

I’ve spoken this morning about Security, Inequality and Climate Change – how we respond to each of these will determine our future success.

But I’m here today to listen as well as talk.

I want to hear from you – to learn about your goals, your hopes and what you think about the future.

Succeeding as a global community, meeting the big challenges of this moment, depend on us listening and learning from each other.

There’s a fashion in some parts of the world to talk down international politics, to say that it’s all just photo-opportunities and funny costumes.

I don’t buy into that – and neither should you.

The three challenges I’ve spoken of don’t stop at any border, they don’t recognise a particular flag or a particular faith.

They can’t be held back by digging trenches or building walls.

They affect us all – and solving them depends on us all, working together, talking to each other and agreeing on a way forward.

So my final message is: don’t ever imagine you can’t make a difference, don’t ever think that politics is irrelevant to your daily life, or that getting involved won’t change anything.

You can make a difference, you can help build a better world – we’re counting on you to do just that.

ENDS

MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2015

ANKARA

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053