President Obama Speaks to the Australian Parliament

President Obama Speaks to the Australian Parliament


President Obama:
Prime Minister
Gillard, Leader Abbott, thank you both for
your very warm welcome. Mr. Speaker, Mr. President,
members of the House and Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I thank
you for the honor of standing in this great chamber to reaffirm
the bonds between the United States and the
Commonwealth of Australia, two of the world’s oldest
democracies and two of the world’s oldest friends. To you and the
people of Australia, thank you for your
extraordinary hospitality. And here, in this city — this
ancient “meeting place” — I want to acknowledge the original
inhabitants of this land, and one of the world’s
oldest continuous cultures, the First Australians. I first came to
Australia as a child, traveling between my birthplace
of Hawaii, and Indonesia, where I would live
for four years. As an eight-year-old, I
couldn’t always understand your foreign language. (laughter) Last night I did try
to talk some “Strine.” (laughter) Today I don’t want to subject
you to any ear bashing. I really do love that one and I
will be introducing that into the vernacular in Washington. (laughter) But to a young American boy,
Australia and its people — your optimism, your easy-going ways,
your irreverent sense of humor — all felt so familiar. It felt like home. I’ve always wanted to return. I tried last year — twice. But this is a Lucky Country, and
today I feel lucky to be here as we mark the 60th anniversary
of our unbreakable alliance. The bonds between us run deep. In each other’s story we
see so much of ourselves. Ancestors who crossed vast
oceans — some by choice, some in chains. Settlers who pushed west
across sweeping plains. Dreamers who toiled with hearts
and hands to lay railroads and to build cities. Generations of immigrants
who, with each new arrival, add a new thread to the
brilliant tapestry of our nations. And we are citizens who live by
a common creed — no matter who you are, no matter
what you look like, everyone deserves a fair chance;
everyone deserves a fair go. Of course, progress in our
society has not always come without tensions, or struggles
to overcome a painful past. But we are countries with
a willingness to face our imperfections, and to keep
reaching for our ideals. That’s the spirit we saw in
this chamber three years ago, as this nation inspired the
world with a historic gesture of reconciliation with
Indigenous Australians. It’s the spirit of
progress, in America, which allows me to
stand before you today, as President of
the United States. And it’s the spirit I’ll see
later today when I become the first U.S. President to
visit the Northern Territory, where I’ll meet the Traditional
Owners of the Land. Nor has our progress come
without great sacrifice. This morning, I was humbled and
deeply moved by a visit to your war memorial to pay my
respects to Australia’s fallen sons and daughters. Later today, in Darwin, I’ll
join the Prime Minister in saluting our brave men
and women in uniform. And it will be a reminder that
— from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains
of Afghanistan — Aussies and Americans have stood together,
we have fought together, we have given lives together
in every single major conflict of the past hundred years. Every single one. This solidarity has sustained
us through a difficult decade. We will never forget
the attacks of 9/11, that took the lives
not only of Americans, but people from many nations,
including Australia. In the United States, we will
never forget how Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty —
for the first time ever — showing that our two
nations stood as one. And none of us will ever forget
those we’ve lost to al Qaeda’s terror in the years since,
including innocent Australians. And that’s why, as both
the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader indicated,
we are determined to succeed in Afghanistan. It is why I salute Australia
— outside of NATO, the largest contributor of
troops to this vital mission. And it’s why we honor all those
who have served there for our security, including 32
Australian patriots who gave their lives, among
them Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt, and
Lance Corporal Luke Gavin. We will honor their sacrifice by
making sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a source
for attacks against our people. Never again. As two global partners, we stand
up for the security and the dignity of people
around the world. We see it when our rescue
workers rush to help others in times of fire and
drought and flooding rains. We see it when we partner to
keep the peace — from East Timor to the Balkans — and when
we pursue our shared vision: a world without nuclear weapons. We see it in the development
that lifts up a child in Africa; the assistance that saves
a family from famine; and when we extend our support
to the people of the Middle East and North Africa, who deserve
the same liberty that allows us to gather in this
great hall of democracy. This is the alliance we reaffirm
today — rooted in our values; renewed by every generation. This is the partnership we
worked to deepen over the past three years. And today I can stand before you
and say with confidence that the alliance between the United
States and Australia has never been stronger. It has been to our past; our
alliance continues to be indispensable to our future. So here, among close friends,
I’d like to address the larger purpose of my visit to this
region — our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human
dignity across the Asia Pacific. For the United States, this
reflects a broader shift. After a decade in which we
fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure,
the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential
of the Asia Pacific region. In just a few weeks,
after nearly nine years, the last American troops will
leave Iraq and our war there will be over. In Afghanistan, we’ve begun a
transition — a responsible transition — so Afghans can
take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces
can begin to draw down. And with partners
like Australia, we’ve struck major blows against
al Qaeda and put that terrorist organization on
the path to defeat, including delivering
justice to Osama bin Laden. So make no mistake, the
tide of war is receding, and America is looking ahead to
the future that we must build. From Europe to the Americas,
we’ve strengthened alliances and partnerships. At home, we’re investing in
the sources of our long-term economic strength — the
education of our children, the training of our workers,
the infrastructure that fuels commerce, the science and
the research that leads to new breakthroughs. We’ve made hard decisions to cut
our deficit and put our fiscal house in order — and we
will continue to do more. Because our economic strength
at home is the foundation of our leadership in the
world, including here in the Asia Pacific. Our new focus on this region
reflects a fundamental truth — the United States has
been, and always will be, a Pacific nation. Asian immigrants
helped build America, and millions of American
families, including my own, cherish our ties to this region. From the bombing of Darwin
to the liberation of Pacific islands, from the rice paddies
of Southeast Asia to a cold Korean Peninsula, generations
of Americans have served here, and died here — so
democracies could take root; so economic miracles could
lift hundreds of millions to prosperity. Americans have bled with
you for this progress, and we will not allow it
— we will never allow it to be reversed. Here, we see the future. As the world’s fastest-growing
region — and home to more than half the global economy — the
Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority,
and that’s creating jobs and opportunity for the
American people. With most of the world’s nuclear
power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether
the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation,
needless suffering or human progress. As President, I have, therefore,
made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation,
the United States will play a larger and long-term role in
shaping this region and its future, by upholding core
principles and in close partnership with our
allies and friends. Let me tell you what this means. First, we seek security,
which is the foundation of peace and prosperity. We stand for an international
order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations
and all people are upheld. Where international law
and norms are enforced. Where commerce and freedom of
navigation are not impeded. Where emerging powers contribute
to regional security, and where disagreements
are resolved peacefully. That’s the future that we seek. Now, I know that some in this
region have wondered about America’s commitment to
upholding these principles. So let me address this directly. As the United States puts
our fiscal house in order, we are reducing our spending. And, yes, after a decade of
extraordinary growth in our military budgets — and as we
definitively end the war in Iraq, and begin to wind down the
war in Afghanistan — we will make some reductions
in defense spending. As we consider the future
of our armed forces, we’ve begun a review that will
identify our most important strategic interests and guide
our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade. So here is what this
region must know. As we end today’s wars, I have
directed my national security team to make our presence and
mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority. As a result, reductions in U.S.
defense spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the
expense of the Asia Pacific. My guidance is clear. As we plan and budget
for the future, we will allocate the resources
necessary to maintain our strong military presence
in this region. We will preserve our unique
ability to project power and deter threats to peace. We will keep our commitments,
including our treaty obligations to allies like Australia. And we will constantly
strengthen our capabilities to meet the needs of
the 21st century. Our enduring interests in the
region demand our enduring presence in the region. The United States is a Pacific
power, and we are here to stay. Indeed, we are already
modernizing America’s defense posture across the Asia Pacific. It will be more broadly
distributed — maintaining our strong presence in Japan
and the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing our
presence in Southeast Asia. Our posture will be more
flexible — with new capabilities to ensure that
our forces can operate freely. And our posture will
be more sustainable, by helping allies and partners
build their capacity, with more training
and exercises. We see our new posture
here in Australia. The initiatives that the Prime
Minister and I announced yesterday will bring our two
militaries even closer together. We’ll have new opportunities
to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific
to the Indian Ocean. And it will allow us to respond
faster to the full range of challenges, including
humanitarian crises and disaster relief. Since World War II, Australians
have warmly welcomed American service members
who’ve passed through. On behalf of the
American people, I thank you for welcoming
those who will come next, as they ensure that our alliance
stays strong and ready for the tests of our time. We see America’s enhanced
presence in the alliance that we’ve strengthened: In Japan,
where our alliance remains a cornerstone of
regional security. In Thailand, where we’re
partnering for disaster relief. In the Philippines, where
we’re increasing ship visits and training. And in South Korea, where our
commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea
will never waver. Indeed, we also reiterate our
resolve to act firmly against any proliferation
activities by North Korea. The transfer of nuclear
materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state
entities would be considered a grave threat to the United
States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea
fully accountable for the consequences of such action. We see America’s enhanced
presence across Southeast Asia — in our partnership with
Indonesia against piracy and violent extremism, and in our
work with Malaysia to prevent proliferation; in the ships
we’ll deploy to Singapore, and in our closer cooperation
with Vietnam and Cambodia; and in our welcome of India as
it “looks east” and plays a larger role as an Asian power. At the same time, we’ll reengage
with our regional organizations. Our work in Bali this week will
mark my third meeting with ASEAN leaders, and I’ll be proud to be
the first American President to attend the East Asia Summit. And together, I believe we can
address shared challenges, such as proliferation
and maritime security, including cooperation
in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the United States
will continue our effort to build a cooperative
relationship with China. All of our nations — Australia,
the United States — all of our nations have a profound interest
in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China. That’s why the United
States welcomes it. We’ve seen that China can be a
partner from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to
preventing proliferation. And we’ll seek more
opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including
greater communication between our militaries to
promote understanding and avoid miscalculation. We will do this, even as we
continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of
upholding international norms and respecting the
universal human rights of the Chinese people. A secure and peaceful Asia is
the foundation for the second area in which America
is leading again, and that’s advancing
our shared prosperity. History teaches us the greatest
force the world has ever known for creating wealth and
opportunity is free markets. So we seek economies that
are open and transparent. We seek trade that
is free and fair. And we seek an open
international economic system, where rules are clear and
every nation plays by them. In Australia and America, we
understand these principles. We’re among the most
open economies on Earth. Six years into our
landmark trade agreement, commerce between us has soared. Our workers are creating new
partnerships and new products, like the advanced aircraft
technologies we build together in Victoria. We’re the leading
investor in Australia, and you invest more in America
than you do in any other nation, creating good jobs
in both countries. We recognize that economic
partnerships can’t just be about one nation extracting
another’s resources. We understand that no long-term
strategy for growth can be imposed from above. Real prosperity — prosperity
that fosters innovation, and prosperity that endures
— comes from unleashing our greatest economic resource,
and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit, the talents
of our people. So even as America competes
aggressively in Asian markets, we’re forging the economic
partnerships that create opportunity for all. Building on our historic trade
agreement with South Korea, we’re working with Australia
and our other APEC partners to create a seamless
regional economy. And with Australia
and other partners, we’re on track to achieve our
most ambitious trade agreement yet, and a potential model
for the entire region — the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The United States remains
the world’s largest and most dynamic economy. But in an interconnected world,
we all rise and fall together. That’s why I pushed so hard to
put the G20 at the front and center of global economic
decision-making — to give more nations a leadership role in
managing the international economy, including Australia. And together, we saved the world
economy from a depression. And now, our urgent challenge
is to create the growth that puts people to work. We need growth that is fair,
where every nation plays by the rules; where workers
rights are respected, and our businesses can compete
on a level playing field; where the intellectual property
and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and
where currencies are market driven so no nation has
an unfair advantage. We also need growth that is
broad — not just for the few, but for the many — with reforms
that protect consumers from abuse and a global commitment
to end the corruption that stifles growth. We need growth that is balanced,
because we will all prosper more when countries with large
surpluses take action to boost demand at home. And we need growth
that is sustainable. This includes the clean energy
that creates green jobs and combats climate change,
which cannot be denied. We see it in the stronger
fires, the devastating floods, the Pacific islands
confronting rising seas. And as countries with
large carbon footprints, the United States and
Australia have a special responsibility to lead. Every nation will contribute to
the solution in its own way — and I know this issue is
not without controversy, in both our countries. But what we can do — and what
we are doing — is to work together to make unprecedented
investments in clean energy, to increase energy efficiency,
and to meet the commitments we made at Copenhagen and Cancun. We can do this, and we will. As we grow our economies, we’ll
also remember the link between growth and good governance
— the rule of law, transparent institutions, the
equal administration of justice. Because history shows
that, over the long run, democracy and economic
growth go hand in hand. And prosperity without freedom
is just another form of poverty. And this brings me to the final
area where we are leading — our support for the fundamental
rights of every human being. Every nation will
chart its own course. Yet it is also true that
certain rights are universal; among them, freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly,
freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens
to choose their own leaders. These are not American
rights, or Australian rights, or Western rights. These are human rights. They stir in every soul, as
we’ve seen in the democracies that have succeeded
here in Asia. Other models have been tried and
they have failed — fascism and communism, rule by one
man and rule by committee. And they failed for the same
simple reason: They ignore the ultimate source of power
and legitimacy — the will of the people. Yes, democracy can be messy and
rough — I understand you mix it up quite well during
Question Time. (laughter) But whatever our differences
of party or of ideology, we know in our democracies we
are blessed with the greatest form of government
ever known to man. So as two great democracies, we
speak up for those freedoms when they are threatened. We partner with emerging
democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the
institutions upon which good governance depends. We encourage open government,
because democracies depend on an informed and active citizenry. We help strengthen
civil societies, because they empower our
citizens to hold their governments accountable. And we advance the rights
of all people — women, minorities and indigenous
cultures — because when societies harness the potential
of all their citizens, these societies are
more successful, they are more prosperous
and they are more just. These principles have guided
our approach to Burma, with a combination of
sanctions and engagement. And today, Aung San Suu Kyi
is free from house arrest. Some political prisoners
have been released, and the government
has begun a dialogue. Still, violations of
human rights persist. So we will continue to speak
clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government
of Burma to have a better relationship with
the United States. This is the future we seek in
the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all. That’s what we stand for. That’s who we are. That’s the future
we will pursue, in partnership with
allies and friends, and with every element
of American power. So let there be no doubt: In
the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States
of America is all in. Still, in times of great
change and uncertainty, the future can seem unsettling. Across a vast ocean, it’s
impossible to know what lies beyond the horizon. But if this vast region and
its people teach us anything, it’s the yearning for liberty
and progress will not be denied. It’s why women in this country
demanded that their voices be heard, making Australia the
first nation to let women vote and run for parliament and, one
day, become Prime Minister. It’s why the people took to the
streets — from Delhi to Seoul, from Manila to Jakarta — to
throw off colonialism and dictatorship and build some of
the world’s largest democracies. It’s why a soldier in a
watchtower along the DMZ defends a free people in the South, and
why a man from the North risks his life to escape
across the border. Why soldiers in blue helmets
keep the peace in a new nation. And why women of courage go into
brothels to save young girls from modern-day slavery,
which must come to an end. It’s why men of peace in saffron
robes faced beatings and bullets, and why every day —
from some of the world’s largest cities to dusty rural towns, in
small acts of courage the world may never see — a
student posts a blog; a citizen signs a charter;
an activist remains unbowed, imprisoned in his home, just
to have the same rights that we cherish here today. Men and women like these
know what the world must never forget. The currents of history
may ebb and flow, but over time they
move — decidedly, decisively — in a
single direction. History is on the side of
the free — free societies, free governments, free
economies, free people. And the future belongs to those
who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and
around the world. This is the story of the
alliance we celebrate today. This is the essence of
America’s leadership; it is the essence
of our partnership. This is the work we
will carry on together, for the security and prosperity
and dignity of all people. So God bless Australia. God bless America. And God bless the friendship
between our two peoples. Thank you very much. (applause)

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