The United States has no better friend and partner than Australia.
Since the Philadelphia arrived in Sydney Harbor in 1792 bringing rum, meat, and tar, we have been doing business together. Since we first fought side by side in World War I, we have been working together to keep the world safe. Since the night Perth turned its lights on for John Glenn as he orbited the Earth, we have been exploring together.
However, most of our work together is quieter, more localized, and occurs without much fanfare.
But often it’s these “little” things that really count.
The Deep Space Network has expanded our understanding of the universe. Our scientific cooperation may help us cure malaria and map the human brain. Our conservationists are working to save animals like the Tasmanian Devil.
The nearly 200 Education Fellows that AAA has supported over the years are building enduring ties between our nations. All of these efforts make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer for future generations.
People like Roy and Andrew are also quietly working to leave a better world than the one they found. Roy Krzywosinski has proven that a massive investment in Australia’s economy can go hand-in-hand with stewardship of the environment. Andrew Harding works to strengthen the links between mining operations and the communities in which they operate – including by supporting the art and culture of Western Australia.
All of these things underline why our friendship is so important. But, we must never forget that that friendship began in times of war.
Last night I met with Houston’s Mayor and the Lord Mayor of Perth to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the sister city agreement. The Perth Houston connection began the night HMAS Perth and the USS Houston gallantly fought side by side at the Battle of the Sunda Strait. Ultimately, both ships – and most of the sailors – were lost.
I’m the second generation of my family to serve in the Pacific. My father and my uncle – who lost his life in the Philippines – both served in the region. Their service and sacrifice instilled in me a sense of responsibility to advance the cause of peace they fought so valiantly to secure.
My father fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal as part of the 1st Marine Division. He told me that they landed with few supplies, and received very little more due to the Japanese blockade. They endured many hard mornings on Guadalcanal. More than once after night time naval battles they looked out at the ocean and only saw ships flying the Rising Sun. Those were difficult days. On those days, they knew that help was not coming soon.
In conditions like those, it would be easy to lose hope. But after Guadalcanal, they were sent to Australia to rest and recuperate. My father told me that Australia – and Australians – reminded him of what he was fighting for. His time here gave him the strength to keep going.
My father always praised Australians’ warmth, kindness, and generosity. I now understand exactly what he meant. And it is my great privilege to work with you in the cause of peace he – and all of our parents and grandparents – fought so hard to secure.