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Supporting our close US ties

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MR HASTIE: To move—That this House:

(1) recognises the strong historic relationship that exists between Australia and the United States of America;

(2) acknowledges the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, which for the past 65 years has provided for our mutual defence, anchored regional stability, and spurred economic growth;

(3) notes the many ties that bind our nations together, in areas including:

(a) intelligence and law enforcement, where information sharing and coordination are at all-time highs, which has led to the prevention of far more terrorist attacks than have occurred;

(b) security cooperation, in which Australia has made valuable contributions in the past 15 years to the United States-led campaigns against terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and across the Middle East, noting as well that the United States Force Posture Initiatives in Australia, launched in 2012, have and will continue to enhance the readiness and interoperability of our militaries;

(c) trade, with the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement in particular having expanded the flow of fair, free, and high-standard trade between our countries for 12 years;

(d) investment, recognising that the United States is Australia’s largest foreign investor, and the top destination for Australian investment, with mutual investment by the United States and Australia in each other’s economies having grown to nearly AUD$2 trillion; and

(e) political engagement, including the frequent exchange of politicians, officials and dignitaries between our nations, recognising in particular that over the last three years alone, the President, Vice President, and half of the President’s cabinet has visited Australia, as well as more than 100 congressional delegations and prominent United States governors; and

(4) affirms that our nations’ mutual and long-standing commitment to freedom, democracy and the pursuit of happiness will continue to guide and shape our relationship into the future, through both challenging and prosperous times ahead.

THE HON MICHAEL DANBY MP

MEMBER FOR MELBOURNE PORTS

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT - 20TH OF MARCH 2017

HON. MICHAEL DANBY MP, DEPUTY CHAIR OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES ADDRESS ON THE HASTIE MOTION – STRENGTHENING AUSTRALIA-US TIES

Chuck Berry toured Australia in January and February in 1959 for the first time. He came back here four times—November 1973, September 1976, 1978 and September 1989. I was fortunate enough to attend one of his Australian concerts. Those tours of that great American rock 'n' roll icon are just one tiny aspect the deep cultural affinity Australians have with the United States. On the other hand an example of Australian affinity, it was an event of deep American historical importance, mad Mel Gibson's great film Hacksaw Ridge. All of the actors were, practically, Australian. The great Richard Roxburgh my personal favourite and Hugo Weaving—all of them were here. Hacksaw Ridge is about that great US combat medic and conscientious objector Desmond Doss, who saved 100 fellow soldiers in those bloody battles on Okinawa, could be made almost exclusively with Australian actors. Like Russel Crowe and Guy Pierce in LA Confidential.

Our deeply intertwined culture is the context in which this worthwhile motion by the member for Canning, whom I praise for bringing this motion to the House, should be seen.

As the member for Gellibrand said, Wartime Prime Minister John Curtin made his famous declaration in 1941 that symbolically shifted that relationship of Australia towards the United States. Not only did Curtin insist that the 6th and 7th divisions be brought back home from the Middle Eastfor the defence of Australia, but he also made a little-known agreement with the President of the United States and Mr Churchill for the US 42nd Infantry Division to come to Australia for its defence. Australia was to leave the 9th Division in the Middle East for its crucial role in defeating Rommel in the Battle of El Alamein. From the point of view of the victory of the Allies in the Second World War, that was a sensible arrangement. Again under the otherwise all-encompassing strategy of “Germany First” rushing one US division to the defence of Australia when they might easily have been sent to Britain underlies the context in which the cooperation between Australia and the United States. As one of the contributors to this debate said, it goes all the way back to the days of Monash, where the first 10 US companies involved in the First World War fought under Australian leadership at the Battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918. We have been with the Americans in every conflict since the First World War: the Second World War, obviously, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Who can forget, for instance, Steven Spielberg's haunting film series The Pacific, where it was underlined that the 1st Marine Division came back from Guadalcanal, where they were nearly destroyed, and then spent nine months in my city of Melbourne—nine months!—until they went back into service in the battlefields of the Pacific.

 

Regarding Australia's comprehensive cooperation with the United States in intelligence, we have Pine Gap in the central part of Australia, the largest NSA/CIA base outside the United States. Through our trusted cooperation the US-Australia alliance contributes to the peace of the world through its monitoring of missile launches in Russia, China and now, more pressingly, in North Korea. Our alliance has also led recently to the Pivot—a bit disappointing—under President Obama and Secretary Kerry, where only 1,250 US servicemen are here, but we have had, as someone pointed out, the squadron of F-22 Raptors arrive in Base Tindal for cooperation, and we have 30,000 troops serving together and getting training experience in our regular biennial Exercise Talisman Saber, like the RIMPAC exercises off Hawaii which I have participated in the Parliament’s Defence Program. With my nephew Samuel Dowling I was also fortunate to attend the recent Avalon Airshow. There we welcomed the first two of more than 50 Boeing F-35 Lightning II 5th generation aircraft; again demonstrating the intense operability of two of the closest defence allies..

 

Deep cooperation between Australia and the United States is seen at a scientific and artistic level, at a military level and at an intelligence level, but it is underlined by our common democratic values and our huge business interests. Australia has $594 billion of investment in the United States. The US has as of 2015 $860.3 billion directly invested in Australia. Australian companies like Visy and Westfield have their biggest representation there. We have enormous American economic investments in Australia that far outweigh any other investments by any other country.

Australia US investmentAustralia-US investment

Anthony Pratt VisyAnthony Pratt and the Pratt Family of Visy Corp is the equal largest Australian investor in the US. Jean Pratt's philanthropy includes the production company whose regular reinventions of legendary American stage shows yet again demonstrates the cultural affinity between Australia and the US.

But I want to come back to this point: this entire cooperation shows both countries are deeply enmeshed, as pointed out in the motion of the member for Canning, it is our common democratic values, our common systems and values, our common democratic view of the world. We both have a free press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. The difference that the countries of the Five Eyes have compared to the rest of the world is something worth clinging to, and certainly Labor regards it as nonpartisan. I know that the member for Kooyong described the President of the United States as “a dropkick”. I do not think this kind of anti-Trump administration should be partisan. We should keep good relations with the United States, regardless of changes in US politics and leaders above all because of our common democratic values. That rather than some absurd value free ethics free Council of Asia should and does determine our irrevocable preference for America and Australia.

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