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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 617

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (12:58): As vice-chair of the US-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, I recently received an email from five Australian expats living in the United States concerned about the actions and potential actions of the Trump administration and its consequences for Australia and America. The chair of the US-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, the member for Canning, received the same email and I understand he will also be speaking on this.

The five genuine expats who wrote to us are part of a much larger group of Australians living in the United States who expressed their concerns in a letter to the PM and the foreign minister. There were 181 named and 44 anonymous signatories in that letter. These Australians do not expressly specify the actions and statements of the particular administration that triggered their concerns, but, from the context of their correspondence, I presume that those triggers include the executive order on immigration, the telephone call between the President and our Prime Minister and the subsequent fallout from that, various statements the President made in the run-up to his election, and the more isolationist and protectionist position that it seems is being adopted by the United States.

In the email to me the Australian group said:

We are asking the Australian government to publicly commit to a set of bi-partisan, fundamental values that should underpin the Australia-US relationship: tolerance, respect, international cooperation, non-discrimination, democracy and the rule of law. We endeavour to do this in a non-partisan way conscious of the need for diplomacy and the importance of Australia's relationships with the U.S.

They expressed these values in more detail by saying:

We believe shared Australia-U.S. values should include support for:

Liberal democracy, the rule of law and an independent press;

Tolerance and celebration of differences;

International law and multilateral institutions as a means to achieve peace, stability, cooperation and the preservation of human rights;

International trade, investment and movement of people across borders;

Science and evidence-based policy and decision making; and

Freedom from discrimination and persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, socio-economic status—

et cetera. They conclude with:

These shared values must be the starting point as our two nations seek to respond to global challenges, including economic recovery, international trade, terrorism, climate change, global health and food insecurity.

I commend these statements. At the same time, I should say that I am not speaking here to criticise the United States or President Trump, but rather to stress how important our common values are and how we wish to see the United States and our relationship prosper and flourish. Not only do we share common values but we also share common interests. The ANZUS Treaty is a central pillar of our relationship. It underpins our defence and security cooperation and has been a force for stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. The United States is our largest two-way investment partner and our second largest two-way trading partner in goods and services.

Given the state of flux the world seems to be in at the moment, it is vitally important that we reaffirm our strong and enduring relationship with the United States and at the same time emphasise the liberal democratic values that we all in this parliament share in common and that have underpinned our vibrant and prosperous societies.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:01