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Speech in response to Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte at the State Department dinner for the The Australian American Leadership Dialogue, Washington DC.

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The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion. Deputy Prime Minister 18 July, 2008


Response To Deputy Secretary Of State John Negroponte

Remarks To The State Department Dinner For The Australian American Leadership Dialogue, Washington

DC - 24 June 2008

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak tonight to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. It is

an additional pleasure for me to speak in the company of Ambassador Negroponte, who has taken on some of

the most difficult and challenging tasks in this Administration, at the United Nations in New York and in

Baghdad, at the Directorate of National Intelligence and here at the State Department.

Both of us are celebrating tonight a quite distinctive institution, the Australian American Leadership Dialogue,

a blend of the public and private sectors, a body which has, for more than a decade and a half, provided an

invaluable forum for a substantial dialogue that crosses party lines and embraces, government, business,

academic and other expertise.

The Dialogue illustrates the depth and breadth of the relationship between Australia and the United States:

not only is it a friendship between Governments, it is a friendship between peoples.

I speak for all us in thanking those who founded the dialogue and, in particular, thanking and acknowledging

the unstinting effort of its convenors, Anne Wexler and Phil Scanlon.

On occasions like this, in places like the State Department, among friends like you, our custom is to celebrate

our relationship. We emphasise, rightly, the ties that bind us, the alliance which unites and protects us, the

trade and investment links which help to underpin our prosperity and the mutual friendship which provides a

solid foundation for all the work we do together. So we should. We all have much to celebrate, and much to be

grateful for, in the relationship between the United States and Australia.

No accident of geography, nor no history of settlement or conquest, brings us together. What unites us is

friendship between our peoples and the values we share and seek to promote - at home and in the world.

The bedrock of that relationship is the US-Australia alliance, which was signed 57 years ago, but which

reflected the judgments - clear, accurate, brutally frank judgments - of an Australian Labor Prime Minister a

decade earlier.

Everyone in this room will be familiar with John Curtin’s declaration in December 1941 about the need for

Australia to "look to America". Tonight, I want to refer us to another statement by Curtin as well, one made a

few weeks earlier, on 8 December 1941, the day after Pearl Harbour. Then Curtin explained to the people of

Australia the imperative need to defend our land, our continent, "as a place where civilisation will persist".

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Our entwined military history goes back further, back beyond those campaigns in the Pacific.

The fourth of July this year is the ninetieth anniversary of the first time the United States and Australian

troops fought together - in the battle of Hamel in northern France in 1918.

And the fourth of July was no accident. It was chosen by the commanding officer, Sir John Monash, as a mark

of respect to the American soldiers fighting side by side with Australians for the first time.

These combined forces prevailed on that day utilising ground-breaking combined air and land-infantry-tank

strategy. It is historically acknowledged as a significant departure from the orthodox trench warfare tactics of

the day and as a significant step towards German defeat.

Our unique military partnership started at this battle during the First World War and has continued through

every major conflict since that time.

In fact, Australia is the only nation to have fought side by side with the United States in every major conflict

since World War One.

We are committed, as successive Australian governments have been, to ensuring Australia will remain - as

Curtin described - "a place where civilisation will persist". We define our civilisation in the terms which matter

most to us - in terms of justice for the Aboriginal people of Australia, in terms of a fair go for all Australians,

in terms of economic and employment growth which will benefit all Australians, in terms of opportunities for

our young people and for those who come from overseas to make Australia their home and in terms of

Australia’s standing as a force for good in the world.

Civilisation means all of that for us, all of it put together in a characteristic and distinctively Australian way.

In the world we try to help to build - in the civilisation we want to persist and prevail - the United States has a

unique role. In Australia, there is no argument whatever about that proposition. Our alliance is bigger than

any person, bigger than any party, bigger than any government, bigger than any period in our history together.

That alliance is enduring and indispensable.

In terms of US-Australia friendship, this is a room full of committed advocates, of true believers - to use an

Australian phrase. Beyond us stand hundreds of thousands of people of the same conviction, on both sides of

the Pacific Ocean. No matter where they meet - whether in a law firm in New York, on a movie shoot in

Hollywood, backpacking in the Greek islands or serving alongside each other in Afghanistan - Australians and

Americans just seem to click.

Beyond this most elegant room, beyond this great capital city, those people are working to build the links

between Australia and the United States. They might have family on the other side of the Pacific, as a result of

those movements of people which began with the arrival of Australian war brides in the United States during

the 1940s. They might have studied in your universities or ours. They might have opened up new markets or

taken the risk to establish new investments. They might have visited as tourists, surprised to find another

nation full of people not quite like them but inspired by the same ideals and aspirations, stirred by the same

sort of emotions, dedicated to the same kind of way of life.

All those people - on both sides of the Pacific - contribute, day after day, to the ties which bind us. I celebrate

them - their informal, human, personal links - just as I celebrate the formal, legal, national treaties which tie

our futures together.

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Together, we can work to help build a world "where civilisation will persist". That is a noble task and a tough

one. We in the Australian government have set ourselves ambitious goals in global affairs, in development of

an Asia-Pacific community, in ways to address the challenge of climate change, in nuclear disarmament and

non-proliferation. On all those issues, we look forward to working closely and constructively with the US

Administration. We will engage on each issue as friends should - frankly, warmly, maturely and

constructively - disagreeing from time to time, but agreeing more often.

John Curtin coined his phrase about civilisation in a dark and desperate time for Australia. He set the bar

high. We owe it to his memory and to the Australians and Americans of today to make the most from this

relationship. In that spirit, I am proud to toast the enduring and indispensable friendship of the Australian

and American people.

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