House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020


United States of America

11:31 am

Photo of Melissa McIntoshMelissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that this year marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States of America;

(2) recognises the diplomatic relationship is the foundation of the broader strategic, defence and economic partnerships between Australia and the United States;

(3) acknowledges the:

  (a) significance of the recent state dinner between President Trump and Prime Minister Morrison on 20 September 2019; and

  (b) appointment of United States Ambassador to Australia, Mr Arthur Culvahouse Jnr, on 19 February 2019;

(4) encourages that the anniversary be a reaffirmation of our shared commitment to promote and uphold democratic values, freedoms and the rule of law at home and abroad;

(5) further acknowledges that a strong, bilateral relationship is vital for our continued shared economic prosperity and national security, as Australia and the United States:

  (a) face increasingly complex and frequent threats that aim to undermine the integrity of democratic institutions and national sovereignty; and

  (b) share the benefits of a robust trade and investment relationship valued at US $1.1 trillion that creates and sustains jobs; and

(6) commemorates the bravery, service and sacrifice of United States firefighters Captain Ian H McBeth, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, and Flight Engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jr who tragically lost their lives while fighting bushfires in the Snowy Monaro area, New South Wales, on 23 January 2020.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt said that the greatest prize in life is a chance to work hard at work worth doing. This year marks the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the United States. It is worth acknowledging and celebrating, because, for 80 years, Australians and Americans have been working hard at work worth doing: creating, maintaining, strengthening and deepening the diplomatic relationship between our two nations.

While our shared history dates back more than 80 years, it is important that we recognise the significance of the diplomatic ties that bind us and provide the foundation upon which to build the great successes of our bilateral relationship. I speak a great deal in this place about aspiration—the aspiration I see each and every day in my electorate of Lindsay. People in our community are driven to create a better life for themselves and their families, driven to support each other and driven to make Western Sydney a great place to live, work and stay. We share this aspiration with our American friends—it's what makes our relationship thrive.

In so many of our nations' successes we have been at each other's sides, from the great Australian general Sir John Monash, who commanded 50,000 US soldiers as they scored a decisive victory breaching the Hindenburg Line in World War I, to the station at Honeysuckle Creek in New South Wales as the world held its breath, broadcasting Neil Armstrong taking his historic first steps on the moon.

Our relationship is not just one for those great achievements but also for our darkest days. In September of 2001, I was meant to be heading to New York for a business trip, booked in to stay at the Twin Towers. My trip was cancelled merely days in advance of 11 September. Instead of being in those towers, I watched on in horror from an office in Sydney, wondering what might have been. Wounded and torn, the United States could then and could always rely on Australia. The challenges we face today with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as difficult as they have been from a health perspective, have also helped us identify both our countries' keen interest in strengthening our supply chains. We have a shared focus on advanced manufacturing. I think there is so much we can do to learn together and to boost capacity for both our countries. I'm doing this in my electorate of Lindsay, with a Lindsay Jobs of the Future Forum and an advancing manufacturing task force. I think educating our kids in both our countries and sharing our experiences is key to success in the future.

This is exactly what my former workplace, the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, was tasked to do by my former boss Prime Minister John Howard back in 2006—to deepen Australia's understanding and relationship with the United States, particularly through education. This is why I established at the centre a think tank program on women's economic empowerment and leadership and worked with world-leading academics from the US on projects. Today it is women that have been hit hardest economically by the coronavirus pandemic.

While our two countries still have quite a lot to achieve in this space, I would like to acknowledge my friend and senator for Western Sydney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and also Minister for Women, Marise Payne, for the outstanding work she's doing in this space during these challenging times for both our countries. I would also like to acknowledge the US Ambassador to Australia, Arthur B Culvahouse Jr, who shares our commitment to the 'unbreakable alliance' and who in his words understands that his position is 'not a diplomatic assignment but a sacred trust'. I know the ambassador and I share a strong interest in supply chains, and we have discussed the importance of backing our manufacturing through advanced manufacturing opportunities.

While it is important to acknowledge our strengths and aspirations for the future, we must also not shy away from our challenges and our past. The last few weeks have been very difficult for many Americans and Australians. I want to echo the sentiment of the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, who said:

… through genuine partnerships we can continue to protect and enhance culture, unlock opportunity and build a brighter, more prosperous future for Indigenous Australians.

(Time expired)

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a seconder for the motion?

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

11:37 am

Photo of Anthony ByrneAnthony Byrne (Holt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support the motion of the member for Lindsay, noting that this year marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Australia and the United States. For me in particular, reflecting on this relationship, I want to acknowledge Prime Minister John Curtin and some words that he said in the darkest days of our nation's history in 1941 and 1942. I am from the party that I believe gave the nation one of its greatest treasures, which is John Curtin, a humble man who stood tall and proud for our country in the darkest days of World War II. He stood tall. He stood for our nation alongside giants such as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Our Prime Minister, who was described as a one-time mild-mannered trade unionist, addressed his nation's first direct radio broadcast from Canberra to American citizens on Friday 14 March 1942. Praising the American people during peak-hour broadcasting, Prime Minister Curtin spoke of their shared commitment to total warfare and the importance of preserving Australia as a democratic bastion between the United States west coast and the then Axis enemies. 'I say to you,' he said, 'that the saving of Australia is the saving of America's west coast.' He also said:

I speak to you from Australia. I speak from a united people to a united people, and my speech is aimed to serve all the people of the nations united in the struggle to save mankind.

He said:

Our legislature is elected the same as is yours; and we will fight for it, and for the right to have it, just as you will fight to keep the Capitol at Washington the meeting place of freely-elected men and women representative of a free people.

Those words, in my mind, cemented this great bond that exists between Australia and the United States, a bond that's been forged in blood, a bond that has been forged with lives—Australian lives and American lives.

Collectively, the United States and Australia have worked to protect democracy when it has been under attack, be it in Afghanistan or in other theatres. We've worked together to combat that threat, as nations that share strong values. I have been to the United States on several occasions. I note that the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee is here as well, and he'll talk more about our intelligence relationship. One thing that strikes me is that these are not formal relationships. These are bonds of friendship, of shared values, of a shared sense of purpose, of shared support for each other, of a shared sense of mission.

We can see, as we mark the 80th anniversary of our relationship with the United States in a formal sense, that those values for which we have fought for a long period of time are under threat. Democracy is being challenged aggressively by adversaries, by great powers, that are seeking to reshape the world order. From my perspective, as someone who is a strong supporter of the United States alliance with Australia, I would like to see the United States more involved in world fora. The Americans cop a lot of criticism. I'm always interested in the criticism that's provided by those of the United States about its role in the world, about what it does.

I reflect, when I think about that, about America and its plan after the Second World War to rehabilitate Europe through the Marshall Plan—its plan to help reconstruct Japan after the Second World War. These are the actions of a great power that sought to insert itself in the world order as a force for good. I'd like to see that force for good continue. Australia and the world needs America to be completely participating in these international fora, and I encourage discussion that America continue the strong role it's played from the 20th century to the 21st century.

11:42 am

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to second the motion put by the honourable member for Lindsay and I congratulate her, as a long-time champion of the Australia-US alliance, on this initiative. She is someone who understands the importance of relationships at the local level as well as at the strategic level, and it's worth reflecting on our deep and abiding relationship with the United States, not just as a security partner but also as a trading partner and as someone who shares the common values that we hold dear as democracies.

This motion is especially timely in the year of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States of America. This relationship, this friendship, this union of nations is built, firstly, on a shared set of values—a common commitment to democracy, to the rule of law and to upholding the dignity of individuals, no matter who they are. In our way of life, minority voices are protected and upheld no matter how disagreeable they might be to us. But this is no easy task for two of the world's oldest democracies, and it's one that we must refresh every single day. We live in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect people. Therefore, democracies cannot afford to take for granted our freedoms, our political institutions and the relationships that we enjoy. Against the backdrop of a strategic setting increasingly shaped by revisionist and expansionist authoritarian powers, it's time for democracies like the United States and Australia to close ranks, to not come apart. It's a time to affirm our shared values and not focus on our differences. And it's a time to strengthen those cords of connection that bind us, whether they be political, cultural, diplomatic or economic, or those that secure our shared commonwealths.

A great Australian, the Governor of Western Australia, the Hon. Kim Beazley, a man better known for deeds in the House, last year answered a sceptic of the US alliance by saying, 'If you want to understand the Australia-US Alliance, go granular, look at it in detail.' So let's look closely at the relationship. We can look at the Marine Rotational Force in Darwin, which was established first in 2012 under Prime Minister Gillard with only 200 Marines and which now has a force of 2,500 Marines that rotate through Darwin. Surely, that is a sign that we have a very close relationship from a security perspective. Look at Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap near Alice Springs, where a huge number of Australians and US personnel work together to secure the interests not only of our two countries but also of our allies. Look at the number of exchange programs across defence, intelligence and law enforcement between Australian and US personnel.

Look at our recent military history in Afghanistan. It was US helicopters and crew who flew us on missions. It was US helicopters and crew who gave us close air support. It was US helicopters and crew who airlifted our wounded and dead from the battlefields. Personally, I know that on every single mission I led I planned our flight path through the Afghan valleys with US pilots and air crew. Whilst this is a great thing, it perhaps reflects poorly on our Defence Force that during that whole war we never deployed our Tiger aircraft nor our Black Hawks, but that's another story altogether.

The point is, if you want to understand the strength of our alliance, go granular. You will find networks of like-minded people committed to the same causes, working in dangerous places, sometimes under immense pressure, to secure our mutual interests. Our uniformed men and women have been doing this since Australia-US troops first came under fire at the Battle of Hamel in 1918 on the Western Front. We fought together through two world wars. It was the United States who had our backs in the battles of Coral Sea and Midway and in the Pacific War. The Australian-American Memorial at the end of Kings Avenue on Russell Hill bears testament to our relationship during the Pacific War. It was paid for and erected by previous generations of Australians who recognised the sacrifice of US personnel to protect Australia from Japanese ambitions in the Pacific.

Our security relationship is just one part of our very large relationship with the United States. Our economic ties are huge. The Alcoa refineries and mines in my electorate, which have created thousands of jobs over the last 50 years, are just one small aspect of that relationship. Today I support this motion.

11:47 am

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Oxley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This morning I'm honoured to speak on the 80th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States. I do so in a bipartisan manner, in response to the motion moved by the member for Lindsay. I thank her for the opportunity to raise my voice in support of the Australia-US Alliance. As the world continues to unfold from the effects of coronavirus and with an economy that will take time to recover, Australia remains grateful for and committed to its strong alliance with the United States. There are strong formal structures of cooperation between Australia and the United States, spanning foreign policy, strategic defence and security, intelligence development, energy, environment, education, law, trade and investment. In today's remarks, I will highlight the wonderful opportunities between our two countries, especially in relation to my home state of Queensland.

We know that Australia and the United States established diplomatic relations on 8 January 1940, following the establishment of Australian and US diplomatic representations in March and July, respectively, in 1940. In today's motion, I also want to acknowledge the achievements of Mr Arthur Culverhouse Jr, who was appointed the United States Ambassador to Australia in February 2019, and place on record the great work he has done to achieve partnership between our two great countries in a short time. I am yet to have the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Culverhouse, but I look forward to doing so as restrictions are eased.

Over the last 12 months, Australia welcomed—before COVID-19—815,000 visitors, including tourists from the USA, to our great country and we are grateful for the economic benefit this has brought to Australia, particularly to the tourism sector in my home state of Queensland.

The United States is the largest foreign direct investor in Australia, making up 22 per cent of the FDI stock in Australia, with two-way investment reaching $1.6 trillion in 2017. The US was also Australia's third-largest trading partner in 2018-19, with $76.4 billion in two-way goods and services and trade, only after China and Japan. Alongside this, exports and imports have increased fivefold since 1985.

One of the areas that has exploded greatly has been the entertainment industry, which has seen a great deal of benefit from this strong relationship. A growing number of Australians in the entertainment industry are taking on starring and supporting roles on American movie and television screens, with—I'm proud to see—many winning great awards.

In my home state of Queensland, the Queensland government, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, has gone to enormous lengths to create thousands of jobs and boost the Queensland economy by attracting films from the USA to be filmed in Queensland—a little known secret, but it's paying huge dividends in my home state.

Established in 2015, the Queensland government's production attraction agency has brought over 4,800 employment opportunities for cast and crew and has lured some of the world's biggest blockbusters to Queensland, as part of what is now known as a billion dollar industry. Famous films include Thor; the upcoming Dora the Explorer and DC Comic's film Aquaman, which is the highest grossing Extended Universe film and surpassed $1 billion at the global box office. This film not only promoted world-class facilities in Australia but injected $144 million into the local economy and employed more than 1,700 local cast and crew.

This year the 80th anniversary is a great reminder to us about the shared commitment to promote and uphold democratic values, freedom and shared interest in economic growth, in particular to growing new economies. In 2018 Australia and the United States marked a centenary of mateship. We've just heard from the member for Canning about a friendship first formed in the trenches of World War I.

The strong relationship between America and Australia has been seen in countless efforts over the years. This year, on 23 January, three American firefighters died after a C-130 water tanker aircraft crashed while battling a blaze in southern New South Wales. Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Clive Hudson and flight engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jnr. risked their lives for the safety of Australians. These brave and selfless men risked and ultimately gave their lives while trying to protect others. This is the definition of mateship. That is the spirit which has joined our two countries together: the spirit which is selfless, brave and courageous and one that is willing to, ultimately, give up your life for your mate. This is the true definition of our alliance.

Debate adjourned.