President Obama on the Relationship Between Australia and the United States


Uploaded by whitehouse on 18.11.2011

Transcript:
Prime Minister Gillard: President Obama; Mr. Harry Jenkins,
Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator,
the Honourable John Hogg, President of the Senate;
The Honourable Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition;
Honourable Members of the Australian Parliament;
distinguished guests one and all.
Mr. President, it's good to see you again after so long --
I think it's been two days.
(laughter)
And when I saw you emerge from Air Force One today,
I thought two things: One, it's a lot easier to run down stairs
if you're not wearing high heels --
(laughter)
And two, whilst I've been counseled by the chief of our
air force about making this statement, I'm going to do it,
anyway: Our Air Force plane made it back from Hawaii to Australia
before Air Force One.
Now --
(laughter and applause)
That statement may not be a deep analysis,
but I thought I should make it anyway.
And Mr. President, I also wanted to say to you we've been a
little bit nervous about tonight, because my partner,
Tim, really got a talking to from the First Lady when we were
in Hawaii.
She said to him that you often don't eat because you are so
focused on your work that you forget to eat,
and she wanted to make sure that you --
we fed you well in Australia.
So the only answer to that was to ensure you had a hearty meal
and to make sure that there were six to seven hundred witnesses
so that Michelle will know that we have been feeding you well
while you're here.
But Mr. President, you come to Australia tonight to share a
night of friendship and to share a visit in which we will look to
the future.
You come to our country with all of the honours due to a
Head of State.
You come as an ally, as a partner and as a friend.
And you come as a person for whom many Australians feel great
personal warmth, and I think that's been on display in this
room tonight.
Not just for the substance of your leadership abroad
and at home.
But for the style of modern leadership you display as well.
Australians, not given to overstatement,
see you leading a great nation amid all the passions of
politics in a democracy and we see in you a clear combination
of vision and a very deep calm.
And we admire your own unique journey in life and law,
community and politics.
Australians who know your memoir Dreams from My Father can't help
but experience the shock of the familiar as we read your
remembrances of time past of a life lived with roots in many
places -- from Hawaii and Indonesia to Kansas and Kenya,
from Boston to Chicago to Washington.
We know that in this respect, you embody the American dream
of opportunity.
But Australians also recognize, in your wider reflections on
identity and place, the value of a world view that looks outwards
rather than inwards.
Like ours, a state of mind that is inclusive,
rather than exclusive, that sees diversity not as a weakness,
but as a very great strength.
Like ours, an acceptance of responsibility in the world,
of an obligation to all, that goes with maturity as a people
and as a nation.
That is your story, that is our story,
that is part of what our two people hold in common.
Part of our common cause for the common good.
Mr. President, we have been allies for 60 years.
Comrades in arms for decades before then.
And friends for longer still.
In what is a year of anniversaries,
we share a long history but we know it is a history defined,
more than by anything else, by our shared, restless,
forward questing.
Defined always, then and now, by the things we do together to
honour our national pledges, to be young and free,
to be home to the brave.
Mr. President, you are very welcome.
(applause)
Speaker: Ladies and gentlemen, The Honourable Tony Abbott,
Leader of the Opposition.
(applause)
Tony Abbott: Mr. President, Prime Minister, parliamentary colleagues,
distinguished guests.
It is indeed an honour to follow our Prime Minister in formally
welcoming President Obama to Australia.
As the leader of the United States, sir,
you are the world's president because no other country has
such a place in the life and such a hold over the
imaginations of people across the globe.
As Prime Minister Gillard has said,
watching the moon landing in 1969 convinced her that there
was nothing that America and Americans could not achieve.
The moon landing, sir, was special for me, too.
My teachers didn't think it was important enough to interrupt
classes for.
So, I absconded to a friend's house to watch the broadcast.
It was the only time in my life I ever wagged school and I'd
like to think that I did it for America.
(laughter and applause)
The subsequent corporal punishment;
I suppose that was for America, too --
a small price to pay for watching history in the making
and cheering for the country which at that moment was acting
for all humanity.
Years later, sir, as a student in Oxford I felt instantly at
home amongst the English only to discover after six months that
nearly all of my friends were American.
Perhaps it was just the solidarity of strangers;
more likely, it was the natural affinity that Americans and
Australians have for each other.
It was an American who not only taught me the Star Spangled
Banner, but insisted that I sing it --
in the Soviet Union, no less -- in 1982.
It was an American who persuaded me to become a boxer,
an American Jesuit, the ultimate muscular Christian.
(laughter)
From the American sealers and whalers who were an important
part of our national economy back in the 1800s;
the officers and men of the Great White Fleet who were given
perhaps the most tumultuous welcome ever extended to any
visitors to our shores; General Pershing's men,
who went to war for the first time under General Monash in the
Battle of Hamel; to the countless Americans and
Australians at all times and in all places who instantly warm to
each other's informality and readiness to have a go.
Our citizens are not strangers to each other.
English-speaking peoples never really are.
I was reminded of this, sir, on a recent visit to Afghanistan.
Only a senior American officer would have invited an
image-conscious politician to test-fire a heavy machine gun
and only an Australian alternative prime minister would
have been rash enough to do so.
(laughter)
But for all the instinctive bonds there can still
be misunderstandings.
On my first trip to the United States as a parliamentarian,
the U.S. Information Agency briefed my hosts that I was a
ferocious liberal and deeply anti-republican,
which meant that I spent most of the fortnight being introduced
to communists.
(laughter)
The very concept of the office I hold as an institutional critic
of government is foreign to your notions of a powerful and
unifying president.
Indeed, the nearest thing you have to an opposition leader is
probably an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
But a good thing it is to have a shadow government to keep the
official one on its toes.
Regardless, sir, of their normal political affiliations,
millions of Australians took pride in your election as
President because it showed that America could live up to its
dreams and that Americans were capable of judging people by the
content of their characters rather than the color
of their skin.
In similar vein --
(applause)
In similar vein, I am very proud that an Aboriginal has finally
been elected to the Australian House of Representatives as a
member of the Liberal National Coalition.
(applause)
Mr. President, we too are a country that has beckoned to the
"poor, the huddled masses, yearning to be free."
We too are a country spreading across a continent from sea to
shining sea.
We too are one nation indivisible under God with
liberty and justice for all and at least in this country, sir,
the President of the United States stands for power tempered
with good will, wealth with justice and energy with wisdom.
So, naturally, we could hardly have amongst us a more
welcome guest.
(applause)
Speaker: Ladies and gentlemen, The Honourable Barack Obama,
President of the United States of America.
(applause)
President Obama: Well, Prime Minister Gillard and Leader Abbot,
thank you both for your wonderfully warm words.
And I thank you for showing that in Canberra, as in Washington,
people may not always see eye-to-eye,
but on this we are all united: There are no better friends than
the United States and Australia.
(applause)
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, and distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen, I am going to be brief,
for we have had a busy day.
I am not sure what day it is.
(laughter)
Am I'm going to subject you to a very long speech tomorrow.
But I do want to express my deepest appreciation for the way
you've welcomed me here today.
I know that I am not the first guy from Chicago to come
to these parts.
A century ago, Walter Burley Griffin came here with a vision
for this city.
He said, "I have planned a city that is not like any other
in the world."
And tonight, I want to thank all of you --
and the people of Australia -- for the hospitality that is
unlike any other in the world.
Our toasts earlier tonight reminded me of a story.
It's from our troops -- this is true story --
our troops serving together in Afghanistan.
Our guys, the Americans, couldn't figure out why your
guys were always talking about cheese.
All day long.
Morning, noon and night.
Why are the Aussies always talking about cheese?
And then, finally, they realized --
it was their Australian friends just saying hello,
just saying "cheers."
(laughter)
So we Americans and Australians, we may not always speak the same
way, or use the same words, but I think it's pretty clear,
especially from the spirit of this visit,
and our time together this evening,
that we understand each other.
And we see the world in the same way --
even if we do have to disagree on the merits of vegemite.
(laughter)
As many of you know, I first came to Australia as a child.
But despite my visits, I have to admit I never did learn
to talk "Strine."
(laughter)
I know there's some concern here that your Australian language is
being Americanized.
So perhaps it's time for us to reverse the trend.
Tonight, with your permission, I'd like to give it a burl.
(laughter and applause)
I want to thank the Prime Minister for a very productive
meeting that we had today.
I think she'll agree it was a real chinwag.
(laughter)
When Julia and I meet, we listen to each other,
we learn from each other.
It's not just a lot of earbashing.
(laughter)
That's a good one -- earbashing.
(laughter)
I can use that in Washington.
(laughter)
Because there's a lot of earbashing sometimes.
(laughter)
That's been the story of our two nations.
Through a century of progress and struggle,
we have stood together, in good times and in bad.
We've faced our share of sticky wickets.
(laughter)
In some of our darkest moments --
when our countries have been threatened,
when we needed a friend to count on --
we've always been there for each other.
At Darwin.
At Midway.
After 9/11 and after Bali.
It's that moment, in the midst of battle --
when the bullets are flying and the outcome is uncertain --
when Americans and Aussies look over at each other,
knowing that we've got each other's backs,
knowing in our hearts -- no worries, she'll be right.
(laughter and applause)
And so tonight -- as we mark 60 years of this remarkable
alliance, through war and peace, hardship and prosperity --
we gather together, among so many friends who sustain the
bonds between us, and we can say with confidence and with pride:
The alliance between the United States and Australia is deeper
and stronger than it has ever been -- spot on --
(laughter)
-- cracker-jack --
(laughter)
-- in top nick.
(laughter)
Thank you very much, everybody.
(applause)