Senate debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021


Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty: 70th Anniversary

3:30 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

The Nationals seek to associate our party with the comments particularly of the foreign minister but also those of the opposition in supporting wholeheartedly the ANZUS relationship and treaty. Today we mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance between Australia and the United States of America. This anniversary comes after the withdrawal from Afghanistan and ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

First signed in San Francisco in 1951, the treaty confirmed both the United States' and Australia's commitment to a shared vision for an Indo-Pacific that is secure, stable and prosperous. The treaty reaffirmed Australia's unwavering commitment to our alliance, recognising its fundamental importance to our nation's security and sovereignty. At the time, Australia's then Ambassador to the United States of America, one of the architects of the treaty, Percy Spender, said:

This day we declare to the world that our three peoples share a common destiny. This treaty takes the first step towards what we hope will prove to be an ever widening system of peaceful security in this vital area.

That it has done, and it will continue to do so.

As a nation, we've been incredibly well served in both peacetime and war by an alliance that has been a testament to our common values and deep mutual trust. This alliance and our bond with the United States is stronger, broader and more vital today than it was 70 years ago. Few countries in the world enjoy such a close relationship, built upon our mutual support for democracy and shared respect for the rule of law. Our shared commitment to deterring aggression has seen us fight together in every major conflict since World War I. From Le Hamel all the way through to the evacuation we saw in Kabul last week, we've stood side by side with our mates, the United States of America and New Zealand.

On 14 September 2001, we saw Prime Minister John Howard formally evoke the treaty for the first time in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said at the time:

In every way, the attack on New York and Washington and the circumstances surrounding it did constitute an attack upon the metropolitan territory of the United States of America within the provisions of articles IV and V of the ANZUS Treaty. If that treaty means anything, if our debt as a nation to the people of the United States in the darkest days of World War II means anything, if the comradeship, the friendship and the common bonds of democracy and a belief in liberty, fraternity and justice mean anything, it means that the ANZUS Treaty applies and that the ANZUS Treaty is properly invoked.

Australia therefore joined the coalition forces in Afghanistan, contributing to the war on terror, and ensured a safer Australia and a safer world.

As it has been for the last 70 years, our alliance is set to remain indispensable from our future. The Indo-Pacific has become a focal point of our alliance, benefiting our partners throughout this region and underpinning the strong relationships we already have with these nations. Our commitment to keeping the alliance strong is shown through Australia's 2020 Defence strategic update as set out in the 2020 Force structure plan. Australia's $270 billion investment in new ADF capabilities will enable Australia to be a more effective and capable alliance partner. The investment also strengthens our industrial base collaboration to further bolster alliance interoperability and our supply chain resilience. Australia's force posture cooperation with the US, including the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, is a tangible demonstration of the deep engagement in the region by both Australia and the United States.

As we look to the future, let us be reminded of the values and freedoms the ANZUS Treaty has secured for us as a nation. Let us commit to continuing to be vigilant and strong and to building the economic strength for the peace and prosperity of all and for a world that is free. Let us reflect on the sacrifices of all who have served under the flags of all three of our great nations who we will never forget and will continue to honour each and every day. And let us be reminded that, whatever lies ahead, the unbreakable friendship of Australia, New Zealand and the United States will continue to prosper.

Question agreed to.


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