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World at critical level, says PM Morrison

Scott Morrison says the world is reaching a critical point in the health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister is on his way to Rome for the G20 summit, which has the theme of “People, Planet and Prosperity”.

The host government has put on the agenda the need for global cooperation to provide equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines while building up resilience to future pandemics.

Leaders will also discuss how to deliver an economic recovery which reduces inequality, empowers women, creates new jobs, improves food security and makes better use of renewable energy.

“The world is reaching what I think is a critical point in our health and economic recovery from COVID,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra before heading off.

He said Australia was committed to providing millions of vaccines especially to countries in the Pacific and southeast Asia.

Mr Morrison will speak during a session looking at the dangers of social media to children, asking other leaders to follow Australia in holding platforms to account.

“They’re publishers, not just platforms, and particularly when they allow people to anonymously go on their platforms and publish their vile rubbish … that’s not freedom of speech, that’s just cowardice.”

The government this week released draft laws which require platforms to obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16 and introduce a range of tougher penalties for not protecting children.

Mr Morrison is also keen to talk up Australia’s role in helping developing nations shift to renewable energy, after his government’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.

A formal bilateral meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, who was angered by Australia’s decision to ditch a $90 billion submarine contract, is not planned.

Mr Morrison acknowledged France’s “deep disappointment”, but said the two countries were seeking a spirit of cooperation.

“We are like-minded, we share values and we share the objectives and aspirations for the Indo-Pacific region, of which France isn’t just an observer – they’re a participant.”

Mr Morrison is expected to take part in side events to promote small business and the role of the private sector in addressing climate change.

Along with Australia the G20 comprises Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

The leaders of China, Russia and Japan are not expected to attend the summit in person.

At the end of the summit, Indonesia will assume the G20 presidency ahead of the 2022 event in Bali.

Mr Morrison is expected to meet with Indonesian leader Joko Widodo in Rome, following concerns about Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal with the UK and US.

The prime minister told an ASEAN summit this week Australia had no plans for nuclear weapons and was committed to security cooperation in the region.

Mr Morrison and Industry Minister Angus Taylor will travel to Glasgow for the COP26 climate talks after the G20 meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will be acting prime minister until November 4.

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