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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10264

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:05 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence: on behalf of the opposition, I join the Prime Minister in congratulating President-elect Barack Obama on this historic election victory. The Prime Minister referred to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech given 45 years ago. A speech it was; but in truth it was a prayer. Dr King said that he looked forward to the day when his little children would be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. When Dr King gave that speech, the 44th President of the United States, as he shortly will be, was only two-years old. He was not one of Dr King’s children, but he was the child of that prayer and the child of those dreams. And what magnificent dreams.

Who among us would have ever thought that we would see the day a black man was elected to be President of the United States, a nation that has been riven by so much racial tension, so much violence and so much hatred. It has risen above all that and affirmed the greatest democracy in the world, affirmed the strength of its diversity and affirmed its confidence in its democracy. And in so doing it has defied all of the critics who said that it was a racist nation and who said that its marbled halls of power were not open to black people, to people from minorities in the United States. It has truly been a magnificent day.

We join with the government in congratulating President-elect Obama. Our countries have so much in common. It is not simply that the United States is the world’s leading democracy; it is not simply that it is our greatest ally; it is not simply that it must take the leadership role in so many of the great challenges facing the world—the global financial crisis, climate change, the war against terror and all of those great challenges. What we have in common, which Barack Obama personifies, is that we are two nations that define themselves by commitment to common political values. There is no person who can look into the mirror and say, ‘That is an Australian face,’ or ‘That is an American face.’ The United States is a nation of choice, a nation of immigration—just as our nation is. It is in that diversity that we find our strength. In that sense, Barack Obama reflects that diversity that is so key to our nation as well as his. In many respects, he is as much a citizen of the world as he will shortly be the first citizen of his nation. We share the great hope and optimism that President Obama will answer another call of Dr King, and that is to let freedom ring around the world.