Values matter now more than ever, and should underpin all public policy.

Those were the thoughts ofSenator The Hon Penny Wong, who delivered Griffith Asia Institute‘s Perspectives: Asia lecture in Brisbane on the topic of ‘Australian values in a time of disruption’.

Senator Wong is the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Sheemphasized that Australia needs a foreign policy that is both transactional – to deal with the day-to-day – and transformational.

“A transformational foreign policy is one that pursues our national interests and is informed by our values,” she told the crowd at the Gallery of Modern Art.

“A transformational foreign policy is critical to Australia’s ability to navigate a disrupted world.”

The Senator argued that values and interests differ, but are intimately interrelated when it comes to creating robust contemporary foreign policy.

“For nations like Australia, there is no alternative to a foreign policy that is built on values and pursues our interests if our citizens are to go about their business confidently, and if we as a nation are to contribute to the peace, prosperity and security of the entire international community.”

Senator Wong concluded by pointing to Jonathan Freedland’s ‘very perceptive essay’ earlier this year, when he wrotethat people must never forget the lessons of the 1930s.

“When faith in the ability of globalisationto evenly spread the wealth shatters; when communities become hostile to those deemed to be outsiders, with wilful acts of hatred towards groups of individuals on religious or ethnic grounds; and when there is a growing impatience with the rule of law and with democracy — these echoes of a dark and bloody decade must be heard and heeded.

“This is why a values-based foreign policy matters.”

The Perspectives: Asia lecture was jointly hosted by Griffith Asia Institute and the Gallery of Modern Art.

The full speechcan be viewed here.