On 1 November 2023, fifteen Australian members of APLN’s senior network signed an open letter urging Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to assume a leadership role in addressing the rising nuclear threats in the region and build on commitments made at the Shangri-La Dialogue earlier that year.
On 11 December 2023, Prime Minister Albanese sent APLN a response. In his letter, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to his administration, saying that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is an onus on all Governments to work on reducing the risks of their use, and to reinforce non-proliferation.”
We are excited to receive this positive response from the Prime Minister, which not only represents a promising commitment to nuclear risk reduction, but also a meaningful endorsement of APLN’s mission. We are grateful to our members for initiating the letter and eagerly anticipate further engagement with the Albanese government.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Response to APLN Australian Members’ Open Letter
The Hon Gareth Evans AC KC
Asia-Pacific Leadership Network
Dear Gareth and fellow leaders of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network
Thank you for your letter on ways Australia can engage our regional partners on nuclear confidence building and preventive diplomacy.
As you say, I have been passionate about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation since I was a student. I am proud of the role that Labor Governments and Australian diplomacy has played in this area, not least the work done by many of you personally. As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is an onus on all Governments to work on reducing the risks of their use, and to reinforce non-proliferation.
As you are aware, the Government has been active on these issues multilaterally and through practical steps and dialogue focussed on our region. I spoke about the dangers of nuclear weapons use and of nuclear proliferation in my keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue. Foreign Minister Wong also used her statement to the UN General Assembly in September to underscore the priority Australia accords to practical measures to reduce the risk of miscalculation and to prevent conflict in our region.
There are other practical measures we have taken. Earlier this year, Australia co-hosted the ASEAN Regional Forum Nuclear Risk Reduction Workshop with the Philippines. We are exploring ways to take this work forward in the region, including in ASEAN-led forums, and would welcome APLN’s input.
You would be aware as well of our appointment, in July, of Vanessa Wood as Australia’s Ambassador for Arms Control and Counter-Proliferation. I would encourage the APLN to engage with Ambassador Wood on your ideas for taking forward our agenda. I know that several of you are in active contact with my office and with the office of the Foreign Minister and I encourage you to maintain that dialogue.
I close by assuring you of the government’s commitment to working with partners, and with important networks like APLN, to support the peace and stability of our region. Thank you again for your work and for the time you devote to these crucial issues.
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