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Address to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue Dinner, Sydney



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Address to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue Dinner, Sydney August 10, 2013

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

Thanks so much, Mehrdad. Thank you so much ladies and gentleman. It’s terrific to be here tonight. It’s an honour to follow Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who I think I can say, you are without any fear of contradiction, is by far the most distinguished former

Premier currently associated with the Federal Labor Party, Bob. It is great to be here with you tonight. It is also good to be with Kim Beazley. Kim and I served in the Parliament together for many years. We crossed swords on a number of occasions,

famously on a couple of occasions, but Kim, you have served our country with great distinction at home and abroad. And I think I can say again without fear of contradiction you are one of the truly most impressive Australians, the most impressive people in

public life never to have become Prime Minister.

Look, there has been a bit of talk this evening about bipartisanship and I hope Bob I’m not telling tales out of school, but you were one of two people who put it to me, many years ago it has to be said that perhaps I should think of joining the Australian Labor

Party. Well, you failed in that quest, but you weren’t the only one. Our mutual friend Johno Johnson tried even harder. I remember not long after the 1993 election I had this phone call as I was sitting unemployed in the house that I didn’t think I could pay the

mortgage on and I had just lost my job as an adviser to the then leader of the Opposition John Hewson. I had this phone call from Johno Johnson then the President of the NSW Upper House and a very distinguished member of the Labor Party and he said,

Tony he said, ‘It’s time for you to come back to your true home’ and I said, ‘I never left the church’ and he said, ‘no, no, I mean the Labor party’ and I said ‘look Johno, it’s true that I had a pretty rough time during the election campaign and I’m not feeling

particularly enthusiastic about things at the moment but if there is one thing that really upsets me it’s that retched Paul Keating’s push to make Australia a Republic.’ There was a long pause on the other end of the phone and he said, ‘Comrade, there is no

hope for you.

Ladies and gentleman, it is great to be here, and yes it is long trip from Gove and the Garma Festival here to the US Dialogue, but it is important, to do everything you can to promote the values that we in this country and you in America hold so dear. Bob Carr

talked about it, universal values, universal decencies and at the heart of the culture that we have very much in common with the United States. This golden rule, to treat others as you would have them treat you, that is the rule we try and live by in our national

life, that’s the rule we try to live by in our relations with other countries, but I have to say we haven’t always succeeded. One of the things that we have not always done well in this country is properly is acknowledge the first Australians and one of the reasons

for my trip to the Garma Festival up there in Top End, one of my reasons, was to recommit my Party to the task of Constitutional recognition of Indigenous people in Australia’s foundation document.

And I have to say for all the difficult history in many respects a far more difficult history than the United States has endured. You

have got this so much more right than we have over the years. Whatever one might think of the politics of President Obama, the fact that America elected him five years or so back now is proof positive that in that great democracy, in that shining city on a hill;

The content of a man’s character counts for far more than the colour of his skin. This is the great gift of America to the world, this is perhaps the great gift of Western civilisation to the world and it’s important that we celebrate it, it is important that we promote it

and that’s one of the things that the Australia American Leadership Dialogue tries to do.

I want to say to our American friends that as far as you’re Australian friends are concerned. America is really not a foreign country except in a juridical sense. We regard America and Americans as family and I hope you have the same sense toward us and

when I say family I hope you think of us as younger brothers maybe that you would be proud of, and not just nuisance nephews who you would rather get rid of, because this is an incredibly important relationship to us. Yes there is the shared language, yes

there is the shared values, yes there is so much history in common. At heart we understand that the relationship with America is the pillar of our national security, essential for our freedom and vital for the freedom of our region and the wider world. And yet the

partnership, the security partnership between the United States and Australia is not a partnership against anyone. It is not partnership that threatens or should worry anyone. It’s a partnership for peace. A partnership for prosperity and a partnership for

greater harmony right around our region and the wider world based on the universal decencies of humanity.

I guess the challenge for us as Australians, the challenge for us as Australians is to bring to all our relationships the warmth and the geniality which comes so easily that come to our relationship with our American friends. I want to close by paying tribute to the

US-Australia Leadership Dialogue which has been rightly described by one of its strongest supporters, the distinguished journalist, Greg Sheridan as perhaps Australia’s greatest ever achievement in private diplomacy. Our challenge is to bring the same level of

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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enthusiasm of engagement and energy to some of our other relationships, relationships which perhaps don’t come as easily or as readily to us. This is a challenge that I want to dedicate myself to meeting to the months and the years ahead. I look forward to

continued participation in this fine dialogue in the months and years ahead. I look forward to drawing on the lesson which this dialogue has for us all in building a stronger dialogue with all the countries that Australia and America need to bond with.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

www.tonyabbott.com.au

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