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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22192

Address to the Parliamentary Luncheon for the Right Honourable Tony Blair MP Parliament House, Canberra

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 27/03/2006

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22192

The Right Honourable Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mrs Cherie Blair, the Leader of the Opposition, Ministerial colleagues, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. We have already had the opportunity I think, most of us, to hear an absolutely marvellous address from our guest today in the Parliament. With passion and clarity, he outlined a vision about the shared values, not only of Great Britain and Australia but also the shared values of democratic, freedom loving people around the world.

And it falls to me in these very brief remarks today to say to you again Prime Minister how welcome you and your wife are in Australia and to remind this audience that the relationship between Australia and Great Britain is not just a relationship steeped in history and sentiment and shared institutions and shared experiences; important and powerful though those may be. And it's not a relationship that is just steeped in the famed sporting rivalry of the old animosities on the playing fields and the sporting fields that are well known to all Australians. But importantly it is also a very modern relationship. It's a relationship that has moved beyond the economic setbacks that were represented by the entry of the United Kingdom into the then Common Market in the 1970s, although we continue to rail, as I'm pleased to hear the Prime Minister does, against many of these perfidies of the agricultural policies of the European Union, let me say. But it's a relationship that in its modern context is deeply embedded in the shared economic opportunities of our two societies.

The United Kingdom is still the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia. Australia is a major source of foreign investment into the United Kingdom. Some Australian exports have been able to penetrate the impenetrable and that is the customs barriers of the European Union. I think particularly of the extraordinary success of the Australian wine industry where I am very proud to say that when I first lived in the United Kingdom in the middle 1960s, finding a bottle of good Australian wine then was quite a feat. But now of course Australian wine has even surpassed French wine in sales. Isn't that a good thing for Australia?

So I mention those things Mr Prime Minister to, I hope, make a wider point and that is that this is a relationship of all the facets. It's a relationship built on a common heritage, it's a relationship built on shared institutions, shared experiences in the defence of liberty in the past. It's a relationship that brings our two countries together in confronting the threat of modern terrorism and on a bilateral basis, it is a relationship which is very well based in the economic needs of the two countries. And then finally and most importantly, it is a relationship based overwhelmingly on people-to-people links. Time does not permit me to enumerate them, but the family, community and other links of that kind between Australia and the United Kingdom are of course the deepest and the closest that this country has with any other society.

And can I again say Prime Minister, you are here as friends, you are here as an admired guest. We appreciate your personal contribution to the causes we hold in common and I invite the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Kim Beazley, to support my remarks.

[ends]

Transcript 22192