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Simon Crean's Address Of Welcome To President Bush

October 23, 2003

This is the transcript of the speech delivered by the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, welcoming United States President George W. Bush to the Australian Parliament.


Mr President.

I join most warmly in the Prime Minister's welcome.

We are especially pleased that you have been able to make this visit following your attendance at APEC.

We recall with pride that APEC was an initiative of a great Australian Labor leader Bob Hawke.

And it was Prime Minister Hawke who insisted that the participation of the United States was vital to APEC's future.

Your presence here today reminds us all that the partnership between Australia and the United States is broad, deep, many-sided, long-standing and, in its fundamentals, bipartisan.

It is, above all, a partnership of peoples something beyond political parties and administrations.

More than sixty years ago, a great Labor Prime Minister, John Curtin, and a great American President, Franklin Roosevelt, forged that partnership together, in the crucible of the Second World War.

Curtin famously wrote in December 1941:

Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
It is altogether fitting today that we should reaffirm that alliance in a world of rapid change.

The Australia of 1941 has been transformed as Australia's standing in the world has been transformed.

We now also look to the future in our own region as both a good friend and a good neighbour among the nations of Asia and the Pacific.

And we look to our future in terms of our deep and enduring support for the United Nations and the principles of the UN Charter as we did in East Timor.

Above all, Australia looks to itself to the self-reliance of a proud, free, strong and independent people.

The Australian perspective is bound to differ, from time to time, with the perspective of the United States.

Of course, on occasions, friends disagree, as we on this side did with you on the war in Iraq.

But, such is the strength of our shared values, interests and principles, those differences can enrich rather than diminish, strengthen rather than weaken, our partnership.

Our commitment to the Alliance remains unshakeable, as does our commitment to the War on Terror, but friends must be honest with each other.

Honesty is, after all, the foundation stone of that great Australian value 'mateship'.

Mr President, the world has changed, but there remains an essential truth in Prime Minister Curtin's words 62 years ago - Australia still looks to America.

A truth not just for Australia, but for democracies everywhere.

It is a profound historic truth, which derives its power not from the might of America but from the democratic promise upon which America was brought forth, conceived and dedicated 227 years ago:

  • The equal rights of all nations.
  • Respect for the opinions of all peoples.
  • And the idea that all men are created equal.
These principles, taken together, form the true and imperishable basis of the promise of, and the friendship between, our two great nations.

May they never perish from the face of the Earth.

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