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Election of President of the United States.

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On behalf of the federal Opposition in Australia, I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his historic election victory and look forward to working closely and productively with the new administration.

Senator Obama’s victory is, as he often said during the campaign, a defining moment in history. The idea that an African-American could be President would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago. Consider this: one of the millions of Americans who voted for Senator Obama was herself the daughter of a slave.

As President, Barack Obama, will have the opportunity to show the world the strength, resilience and above all the diversity of American democracy.

Like Australia, Americans come from every culture, religion and race. Like Australia, America draws its strength from its tolerance, its openness and above all its freedom.

Barack Obama’s victory is more than the realisation of Martin Luther King’s dream that one day his little children would be judged not by the colour of their skin but the content of their character. It is also the opportunity for a stronger America, with a new leader, to take up the call of Dr King to “let freedom ring” around the world.

This mighty democracy now has a President who embodies the diversity that is modern America. He can speak to the world not just as an American but as a citizen of the world.

Senator Obama’s is a story that transcends, palpably and very powerfully, the everyday discourse of political life.

The United States remains Australia’s most important ally, both in its role as the world’s leading democracy and through its crucial contribution to security and stability in our own Asia-Pacific region.

Barack Obama is an outstanding American, and a friend of Australia.

I am confident he will strive to strengthen still further an alliance which has never been broader, deeper or closer than it is today.

More than ever, in these difficult and testing global conditions, the world will look to the next US president for leadership across a wide spectrum of issues - from stabilising the international financial system, to grappling with the challenges of climate change and energy security; from ensuring the world’s major economies remained committed to open markets and free trade, and to dealing resolutely with the threat to free societies from terrorists and extremists.

I firmly believe Senator Obama will provide this leadership with distinction.

Australia, too, has a significant role to play in these global debates and for our part we will work to further strengthen and advance the close working relationship between our two countries and in particular with the new President.

5 November 2008