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Thursday, 30 August 2001
Page: 30705

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) (5:43 PM) —I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the alliance between Australia and the United States of America under the ANZUS Treaty;

(2) reaffirms the commitment of Australia to that alliance, recognising its fundamental importance to this nation's ongoing security;

(3) recognises that the alliance has significantly contributed to peace and security in the Asia Pacific and beyond;

(4) expresses its profound gratitude to the men and women of both nations who have served together throughout the world in defence of freedom and in the pursuit of peace and prosperity for all;

(5) acknowledges that this is an alliance between two peoples forever committed to democracy, and its foundation stones of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the independence and authority of the rule of law; and

(6) affirms its belief that the alliance will continue playing a vital role in a changing world, building a prosperous and secure future for our two nations, the Asia-Pacific region and the global community.

As all members of the House will know, 1 September marks the 50th anniversary of the signature in San Francisco of the ANZUS Treaty, which joined in a security alliance Australia, New Zealand and the United States. ANZUS, or Ausmin, as it has become known more recently, joined those three countries and has been the cornerstone of Australia's national security over the past 50 years. This motion—which I believe, and will be grateful to see occur, will be unanimously supported by the House—recognises the great significance of the ANZUS Treaty to the people of Australia and the people of the United States.

It is symbolic that this motion should be moved on the very day that the people of East Timor are voting in their first election, because it was the joining of Australian forces with the assets of the United States which played a crucial role in the people of East Timor having an opportunity to exercise their rights as citizens of the world in a democratic ballot. And that is but the most recent of the occasions on which Australians and Americans have fought together in furtherance of the values they have in common and the commitment they have in common to individual liberty, democracy and freedom.

In a little over a week, I will have an opportunity of conveying directly to the President of the United States, and also in an address to a joint sitting of Congress, the commitment that the Australian people have to the ANZUS alliance. Although there will properly remain differences between the government and the opposition in relation to aspects of the bilateral relationship—as is proper in a robust democracy—I know that I will speak on behalf of all of the Australian people in saying that the relationship between us has been a very fruitful one and one that we prize as a people very much.

I want to take the opportunity of recording the contribution made by successive prime ministers of Australia to the ANZUS alliance. ANZUS was signed when Sir Robert Menzies—or Mr Menzies as he then was— was Prime Minister of Australia. Despite his well-documented affection for the links between Australia and Britain, he was always hard-headed in his assessment of what was in Australia's national interest. When it came to foreign and defence policy matters, he knew that an alliance between Australia and the United States was absolutely essential to Australia's future. I also record of course historically the enormous contribution made by John Curtin, before the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, to building links between Australia and the United States when he made his highly significant appeal to the Americans for assistance in the darkest days of World War II. I also record the contribution of Bob Hawke, when he was Prime Minister, to the ANZUS alliance and the links between Australia and the United States.

Can I say for myself that I remain personally very dedicated to that relationship. It is not only a relationship based on strategic and defence interests; it is also a relationship more importantly based on common values and common aspirations. We are people who share the same world view, generally speaking. We are people who prize individual liberty. We are people who value democracy. We are people who have been prepared to defend those values and to fight together in their defence. When I meet the President and address the Congress, I will express those attitudes on behalf, I know, of all the Australian people.

I therefore commend this motion to the House. In advance I thank the Leader of the Opposition and his office for their cooperation in the preparation of the motion, in anticipation that it might just receive total support from the parliament, as I think a motion of this kind should. I think the Australian people owe a lot to the United States and we share a lot in common. I think it is a very appropriate motion to mark the 50th anniversary of what has been a very important treaty for us and something that enshrines so much of what both of our societies stand for.