Election Interpreter 2013
Prime Minister Rudd has just left the Lowy Institute after making the first major foreign and national security policy speech of this campaign by either party.
We'll post a transcript as soon as we get it (UPDATE: audio now available), but meantime, you might have heard already of one major announcement from the speech, the decision to move Australia's major east coast naval base from Sydney to Brisbane.
The other notable aspect of the speech was the tone of the PM's remarks about Syria. He made no announcements about any Australian involvement in the crisis, but with language such as this, some kind of commitment can't be far away. He called it a crisis of 'historic proportions', made comparisons to Srebrenica and Rwanda, and said he would not want to be judged as having turned a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons and the humanitarian crisis more broadly.
To use the foreign policy language, Rudd framed the Syria issue firmly as a defence of the international norm against chemical weapons use. He reminded the audience that Australian diggers had been gassed in the trenches in World War I, and that one hundred years later we ought not to let it happen again. Rudd said he had spoken with President Obama this morning, and that Obama was considering the 'full range of options.'
On the announcement to move the navy from Sydney to Brisbane, the detail Rudd added to this morning's media reporting is that he would set up a task force to report back after two years on how this move will go ahead. the process itself will take until 2030. A lot of people are wondering about the cost of this move, but Rudd said nothing about that.
G20 members will be interested to hear that Rudd intends to make employment the 'core organising principle' of the 2014 meeting in Brisbane.
Rudd was asked whether he would commit to higher spending for Defence and DFAT. Usually the Government ducks such questions in a somewhat embarrassed way around these parts, but it was interesting to hear Rudd defend the current state of DFAT by saying that it was DFAT which helped secure Australia's G20 membership and UN Security Council membership, and America's inclusion in the EAS. Implied but unsaid was the follow-up point that, with such sterling performance, DFAT doesn't need to be any bigger.
Photo courtesy of @captainbrown.