Australia’s prime minister has lauded a new alliance with the US, Japan and India as the nation’s most important security agreement in almost seven decades.
Scott Morrison believes the so-called Quad group of countries is the most significant development for Australian security and sovereignty since ANZUS.
“It’s seriously a big deal,” he told a meeting of government MPs and senators on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden has been invited to an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty later this year.
Mr Morrison said the Quad’s goal was to demonstrate that liberal democracies achieved results and preserved citizens’ freedom.
“Some people are accepting authoritarianism because they think it is a more convenient way to deal with problems their countries are facing so they surrender,” he said.
“Australia’s performance during COVID shows liberal democracies get stuff done.”
He said the Quad would transcend generations.
Mr Morrison also celebrated former finance minister Mathias Cormann’s appointment as the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The prime minister said he made 55 calls to advance Mr Cormann who won a five-year term as OECD secretary-general after narrowly defeating Cecilia Malmstrom from Sweden.
“In the last round it was basically all tied up, it was basically a golden point field goal,” Mr Morrison said.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack took aim at Greens leader Adam Bandt who lobbied against Mr Cormann because of his climate change record.
“That is just team un-Australia,” Mr McCormack told colleagues.
One coalition backbencher said the appointment was a bigger achievement than Australia securing a single term on the United Nations Security Council.
Australia spent 2013 and 2014 on the council after the previous Labor government secured support to join the UN’s most important governing body.
Environmental groups also railed against Mr Cormann, saying he had a public record of “thwarting effective climate action”.