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Transcript 17742

Speech to the Australian American Association Dinner, New York

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 09/03/2011

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 17742

Friends all

I've always found my American friends so instinctively polite that even when you find me completely indecipherable all you still nod and smile sweetly.

But among so many friends of Australia I hope I can relax and use my own vowels?

I'm not sure Mark Twain would have approved of my modern Australian accent given his troubles when he visited Australia in the 1890s.

As he wrote:

Now and then, but this is rare, one hears such words as piper for paper, lydy for lady and tyble for table fall from lips whence one would not expect such pronunciations to come. That mislaid 'y' is rather striking when a person gets enough of it into a short sentence to enable it to show up. In the hotel in Sydney the chambermaid said, one morning: "The tyble is set, and here is the piper; and if the lydy is ready I'll tell the wyter to bring up the breakfast."

Australia and America are old friends and Americans are extraordinarily polite.

We're always conscious that we are friends who live a long way away and it is traditional advice to Australians visiting America to “assume good will but no knowledge”.

But I know I'm among a friendly and knowledgeable audience tonight.

In Washington earlier today I spoke about the geography we share and the history we have drawn from it.

The first Europeans to see the great waters we share called it the South Sea.

We owe to Magellan its naming as the Pacific Ocean.

And it is a wonderful legacy of Magellan's, because we do seek a pacific friendship, we do dream pacific dreams.

So much of our friendship has been a story of the sea. American ships have brought friendship to ours and many shores. Not only Yankees either.

The Confederate ship Shenandoah made a famous visit to Melbourne in January 1865.

She had found the North Pacific sadly short of combatant warships and she came to Williamstown slip, so her Captain J. I Waddell said, for food, water and repairs.

Why that required the crew to visit the Ballarat race day and have photos taken with half the town has never been fully explained, but they had a good time.

And in fact the Shenandoah was so warmly received that they recruited forty two new members of crew in Victoria.

There's a broad historical consensus that this is the only occasion on which an American naval vessel has come to Australia to steal our young men.

Our friendship is not just one for peace, but one for prosperity.

Australians and Americans alike now the equation is simple:

Trade and investment equals jobs.

And good jobs equals good lives.

So we share a partnership for growth.

I know our American friends have been through very tough economic times these last few years.

We're very conscious that while Australia beat the global recession, our American friends have felt great economic pain.

Unemployment is a terrible social problem. And when home ownership is threatened too, the human cost only grows.

There is no country in the world which bounces back better than the United States.

You are the masters of recovery and reinvention.

We are optimistic on your behalf. And as friends of Australia I know you will be keen to hear some good news from us as well.

So I want to remind you about the extraordinary opportunities being created by our mining boom.

The current upsurge in our terms of trade has been described by our Reserve Bank as the biggest resources boom since the 1850s gold rush.

In seven years, mining investment has increased fivefold. This year, Australian industry will invest more money into mining than the whole country invests in building new houses: something that has never happened before.

These are projects with great national reach. One single plan - the $43 billion Gorgon project - is worth about the same as 2 years of output from agriculture.

When I went there last I met a worker on site who lives one block away from my home in Melbourne. Gavan works on the project on a fly-in, fly-out basis.

This is like commuting from Portland, Oregon to Houston, Texas.

Mining is a remarkable force for progress and modernisation in Australia.

Australia's mining industry employs engineers, computer specialists, logisticians, environmental managers.

It once employed a young Herbert Hoover.

Hoover may not have written a love poem to a Kalgoorlie barmaid, though Aussie legend insists that he did.

But he was instrumental in organising one of the biggest firms in our industry and he never forgot his time in Australia's west ... saying for the rest of his life that even the sight of a camel train made him seasick.

It's a more sophisticated industry today. Not too many camels.

And on any measure, we are living though a boom.

Our mining boom is a good thing.

Our mine workers are gaining higher wages. Our suppliers are benefitting. Our superannuation funds are earning more. And the higher dollar is cutting prices for household goods in Australia too.

It's that equation again: Trade and investment equals jobs.

And good jobs equal good lives.

So while we know you have endured tough times, we also know you understand the way ahead, and we are confident America and Australia are on the same road.

Friends and partners in a globalised world, where open societies flourish and competitive economies thrive.

A world where the safest course is the boldest one.

Our alliance must always be a friendship for the future.

So tonight I am pleased to announce a $2 million Australian Government contribution to a project to ensure the Australia-United States alliance remains so.

The 21st Century Australia-United States Alliance Project will be led by the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

It will bring together the best institutions and thinking from Australia and the United States to canvass new thinking on our alliance's future challenges and its future course.

The21st Century Australia-United States Alliance Project will be a partnership of government and business.

It's important we recognise the role of business in the bonds between Australia and the US.

The Government's contribution will be matched by US corporate partners. I'm grateful for the first such donation, which has been generously made by the Dow Chemical Company.

Represented here tonight by Andrew Livris, CEO, Chairman and President.

Thanks Andrew.

We remain friends for the future because our peoples remain friends.

We're not twins, and I love the differences between us.

I think the thing Australians and Americans might enjoy most about each other is we amuse each other.

You do like to laugh at us a bit - nothing wrong with that, one of the most famous books about Australians is called They're a Weird Mob - and as for us, well I'm a guest, so maybe I should just say we “enjoy your sense of humour”.

I have always enjoyed travelling here and meeting Americans visiting Australia because what you see is what you get.

Last year I met Oprah in Melbourne. Wow. She's not given to understatement, is she! And then she goes home and raises much needed funds for the Queensland floods.

Just magic. What a wonderful ambassador for America.

And I know our New Zealand friends - we think of them as family, in truth - have deeply appreciated America's generosity as well.

Our peoples each speak with our own voice, but we share many values. Above all we know the dignity of every person.

In the 18th century an American wrote “all men are created equal”.

In the 19th century Australians said “Jack's as good as his master”.

We each value effort more than status and we each reject the sort of snobbishness and expectations of obsequiousness that infect other societies.

Our egalitarian societies share that deep determination of the New World: that everyone is worthy of respect ... that a Prime Minister or President is no better than the person who serves her dinner.

And in both our countries, true friends stick together.

President Kennedy once described Australians as “good friends in peace, best of friends in war”. I think he was right and it's a badge we wear proudly.

We're Australians. We're here for the hard days.

Here in New York we can never really forget the hardest of days ten years ago.

John Curtin's words during the Battle of the Coral Sea speak to us still:

As I speak, those who are participating in the engagement are conforming to the sternest discipline and are subjecting themselves with all that they have - it may be for many of them the ‘last full measure of their devotion' - to accomplish the increased safety and security of this territory.

In the face of an example of that description, I feel that it is not asking too much that every citizen who today is being defended by these gallant men in that engagement, should regard himself as engaged in the second line of service to Australia ... Men are fighting for Australia today.

Those who are not fighting have no excuse for not working.

Australians and Americans are engaged in Afghanistan tonight.

And those of us not there are working for our countries, each in our own way.

When Douglas Macarthur first met Curtin in March 1942 he said

Mr Prime Minister, we two, you and I, will see this thing through together.

There will be hard days ahead.

But Curtin and Macarthur's words also speak to us still.

They draw us ever forward to the deepest sources of confidence in the future that lie in our national characters.

All friendships need work and ours is no different.

Percy Spender knew this.

Spender of course was the Australian External Affairs Minister who more than any one Australian can claim credit for the successful negotiations for the ANZUS treaty sixty years ago.

As an old politician himself, he found a sure fire way to President Truman's heart.

You see when the Washington Post's music critic criticised President Truman's daughter's singing voice in 1950, Truman wrote to the journalist:

I have never met you, but if I do you'll need a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below.

So Spender found the best way to talk to Truman ... was to get him started on how terrible the press is.

To be fair, you don't need incredible powers of perception to know that any politician's favourite topic of conversation is complaining about journalists,

But Spender opened up a rich vein of friendship with a President who already had fond memories of Aussies from the Great War.

So while the Second World War experience and the Cold War environment undoubtedly played their part in bringing our countries together as Treaty partners in 1951, the friendship between two politicians played its role.

Thank you for your friendship.

Not just tonight but in all the work of the Association.

What you do to bring our countries ever closer together is of incredible value.

We have so much in common but we can never take each other for granted.

After centuries as friends, decades as allies, days and nights like these are precious still. We are reminded of our best selves.

Americans are still optimists, Australians still have a Go and our future is there for us as long as we are bold.

Transcript 17742