It’s always good to be back in Melbourne. This city has special significance to me. This was where I came for my first official trip outside of Canberra after my arrival. This was also where my father came for his R&R after he fought at Guadalcanal. His stories about Australia led to my lifelong appreciation for the Lucky Country.
Our alliance has been the cornerstone of peace and security here in the Asia-Pacific for decades. Australia’s leadership and support have been crucial to advancing our shared interests both regionally and around the globe.
Our alliance is strong. It is enduring. And it is one of the United States’ most important partnerships anywhere in the world.
We have worked and fought side by side. In times of war and peace, we have turned to each other.
We are not allies because of geography.
We are not allies out of obligation.
We are allies because we share the common foundational values of liberty, justice, democracy, and respect for human dignity and freedom.
We are allies because neither one of us walks away from our friends. In our darkest days, we have always stood together – and we always will.
When Australia came under attack in World War II, we were there. Just as you were there for us after September 11. We remember.
From security to space, from investment and trade to innovation, and from humanitarian assistance to conservation, you will not find a truer friend, a stronger ally, or a more dedicated partner than the United States.
Earlier this year, I spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra on the state of the U.S.-Australia alliance. Those remarks in June focused mainly on the rebalance and what we are doing together in this region.
The United States is firmly committed to the rebalance, and to our intense engagement here in the Asia-Pacific. Next month, the President will visit China for the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and Burma for the East Asia Summit before coming to Australia for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane. His visits will help us strengthen ties, foster understanding, and expand cooperation with valued regional partners and institutions.
But U.S.-Australia cooperation extends far beyond the borders of the Asia-Pacific. I’d like to spend my time here today talking mostly about the things we are doing together outside the region, or which have broader global implications. In an increasingly interconnected world, we ignore seemingly distant problems at our peril.
From Ukraine to Iraq, from West Africa to Syria, we are working together to bring peace, to help fight aggression and terror in troubled countries far from home, and to combat deadly diseases that recognize no borders. We are tremendously grateful for Australia’s leadership.
We welcome Australia’s contributions – and willingness to do more – in the fight against Ebola and the associated humanitarian crisis in West Africa. This is a global problem, requiring a global response. Working together with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and other partners, we have the best chance to contain and control the spread of this deadly disease.
The United States Department of Defense is devoting one billion dollars to this fight and will construct up to seventeen Ebola Treatment Units. Almost 4,000 U.S. service members will be assisting West African countries to provide humanitarian support where it is needed the most.
Australia’s leadership of the G20 this year has meant unprecedented opportunities for our most senior leaders to discuss further opportunities for economic growth in a world that is still slowly emerging from the global financial crisis.
Finally, our cooperation in research, innovation, and conservation is helping us to preserve our planet and its precious natural resources for our children.
Over the six decades since we signed the ANZUS treaty, our world has dramatically evolved. As our world changes, so must our security cooperation.
We now work together to protect the global commons of space and cyberspace – areas that were unknown when ANZUS was signed, but which are now vital to each of our countries’ national security.
We work together to promote regional cooperation — and to reinforce the rules and norms that will keep our people safe. We make sure that disputes in the region are settled diplomatically, and on the basis of international law.
We train together so that we are prepared to help countries struck by natural and humanitarian disasters.
When crises happen, we work together to find our people and bring them home. Together, we search for the final resting place of MH370. We cooperate to bring home the remains of those killed on MH17 and to hold responsible those who caused their deaths.
We continue to work together to stop terrorism, wherever it is found. That is especially necessary when we are speaking of criminals and terrorists who target civilians, behead journalists and aid workers for propaganda purposes, and who are prepared to strike anywhere.
We will work to disable ISIL, because it poses a threat – not just to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East – but to people around the world. And so, at the request of the Iraqi government, Australia and the United States are standing together as part of a broad international coalition of more than sixty nations to fight the especially brutal and barbaric terrorists of ISIL.
Violence, extremism that brooks no differences, and radicalization are threats to the security of all nations. The coalition we have formed demonstrates this quite clearly.
In New York last month, Secretary Kerry pointed out a picture that had appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It shows the Sunni foreign minister of Saudi Arabia arm-in-arm with the Kurdish president of Iraq and the Shia foreign minister of Iraq.
People of many nations are setting aside differences of politics, faith, or history to face this common threat.
But this is not just a military fight. This is a fight that will be carried out on many fronts. If we are to succeed, we must deny ISIL recruits, funding, and safe haven.
The phenomenon of large numbers of fighters traveling to and from conflict zones is unprecedented. So this is not an issue that can be solved by one country acting alone. That is why President Obama chaired an historic meeting of the United Nations Security Council last month to discuss the problem. At that meeting, the President, Prime Minister Abbott, and other leaders discussed how to stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and how to cut off their financing.
The UN resolution on foreign terrorist fighters, which was adopted unanimously, is a good beginning. The keys to long term success in the effort to counter ISIL are unity and the sharing of information and intelligence. These allow us to act quickly and stay one step ahead of our common enemy. The partnership between the United States and Australia serves as an important example of how countries can – and must – work together.
Recently, the cooperation between the FBI, the AFP, and Victoria police was on full display in Melbourne. Our ability to work together prevented funds from being used to support terrorists and terror organizations.
But our partnerships are about more than defense and security.
This year, Australia has played host to some of the biggest names in finance and labor – both in its capacity as chair of the G20, and as the venue for the latest round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Next year, we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Since its implementation, our bilateral trade of goods and services has nearly doubled to over $61 billion. In the first six years alone, the number of Australian companies operating in the United States also doubled.
The agreement has been an important success, especially since much of the growth occurred during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression. We’d like for everyone to benefit from agreements like this one.
We also want to ensure that all countries in the region have access to a trade and investment environment that is open, honest, and fair for all the parties involved.
So we are working hard with Australia and ten other partners to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The TPP is an ambitious trade agreement that will bring down barriers to trade and investment and open new markets. It will include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovation. It will promote green and innovative technologies. It will improve the coherence of regulatory systems, and increase supply chain efficiency.
Today, we are in the home stretch on the TPP negotiations. In fact, negotiators from all twelve TPP countries just met in Canberra and Sydney over the weekend to hammer out an agreement on the last remaining issues. They made significant progress on the market access negotiations and on the trade and investment rules which will “define, shape, and integrate” the TPP region. They’ll be meeting again in Beijing on the margins of the APEC Leaders’ Meeting.
We are also working with Australia to improve global economic conditions through the G20.
I know that President Obama is looking forward to coming back to Australia next month. It will be a great opportunity for him to talk with other world leaders about promoting strong, sustainable, and balanced economic growth, reforming our financial systems, increasing energy efficiency, addressing climate change, and improving workforce participation – especially among women.
While we are successfully emerging from the global financial crisis, we need to continue to think about how to handle the recovery on a global scale. We need to make sure that all of our citizens benefit from the recovery and future growth.
It present, the U.S. has experienced 55 consecutive months of job growth. We’ve added more than 10 million jobs to our economy. But we still have more people who are unemployed than we would like. We still have more people underemployed than we would like. As Labor Secretary Perez said when he was in Melbourne last month, we work best when we field a full team.
We know this is not just a U.S. problem, so we’re anticipating robust discussions in Brisbane on creating more and better jobs and improving economic growth.
I think it will come as no surprise to you that we are also very interested in discussing climate and energy.
G20 member countries comprise about 85 percent of the world’s economic output. That’s an impressive statistic by any measure. But those same countries also generate 80 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. As the world’s largest economies – and some of its biggest polluters – we are in a great position to lead by example.
I have said before – right here in Melbourne – that good climate policy and good economic policy can – and do – go hand in hand.
Dealing with the effects of climate change – from property and infrastructure damage to crop loss and increased energy costs – will cost us billions. And that is why President Obama has made climate change a domestic and international priority. At home, we’ve invested in clean energy, we’ve cut carbon pollution, and – at the same time – we’ve created new jobs.
In 2009, President Obama pledged to reduce U.S. emissions by 17 percent over 2005 levels by 2020. We have successfully cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 11 percent. We are more than halfway to our goal. We have also raised the bar by pledging to reduce emissions from existing power plants by 30% by 2030.
One of the big complaints we hear about environmental policies in general is that making changes will be too expensive. We hear that it will be too hard – especially on businesses. We hear that it can’t be done.
But, as companies all over the world are demonstrating daily, good environmental practices and good business practices can go hand-in-hand.
Google has put more than $1.5 billion into a variety of wind and solar projects. These investments are creating hundreds of jobs and decreasing its operating costs.
Coke, Pepsi, and General Mills are all working to reduce their impacts on the environment through investments in renewables, changes in how they use supplies, or changes in packaging.
In the end, the economic impact of avoiding action on the issue could be tremendous. This will have implications for both our pocketbooks and our national security. Admiral Locklear, the commander for U.S. Pacific Command, identified climate change as one of the top long-term security challenges in the Pacific.
If we do not act, then we will face serious consequences to public health and safety, national security, and our economies. Every nation – developed and developing alike – needs to be part of the global effort for the sake of future generations. We applaud the work of the EU last weekend and that of China in reducing HFCs.
We can improve our chances of success through support for innovation, for research and development, and for entrepreneurs – all good building blocks for growth and jobs. We’ll look forward to these discussions at the G20
I have spoken extensively about the importance of innovation, funding for STEM education, and investment in research. And that is because innovation is essential for success.
It will help us face the challenges of an uncertain climate, an aging population, and a changing energy landscape. Innovation can help us find cures for the most devastating diseases and provide clean water, plentiful food, and safe housing to the billions of people living on this fragile planet.
Sometimes, however, coming up with new ideas and new technologies is the “easy” part of the equation. Bringing the results of our research and cooperation to market can be a significant challenge.
This is why I have launched a series of Innovation Roundtables. These events put students, business leaders, academics, government officials, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs in the same room to talk about best practices and expanding cooperation.
Our next roundtable will be held early next year, right here in the Melbourne area. I hope you will join us.
Our cooperation in research and development already spans universities and government, think tanks and corporations. Creative people and creative companies are teaming up to figure out how to deal with a changing world, changing populations, changing markets, and a changing climate.
But innovation doesn’t just mean developing new technologies. It also means developing new techniques to handle longstanding issues. In that way, innovation is crucial for conservation as well.
When I testified before the U.S. Senate during my confirmation hearing, I said that one of my priorities as Ambassador would be working with Australia to help protect the global environment. As a former director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, I have a strong interest in conserving our world’s precious wildlife.
The World Wildlife Fund recently reported that more than half of the world’s wildlife has been lost since 1970.
If that isn’t an “F” on our report card, I don’t know what would be. Clearly, what we have been doing isn’t enough. We need to try something different to reverse this trend.
Together we are exploring new ideas and trying out new methods.
The U.S. Geological Survey is using satellites and geo-locators and working with Australian, Dutch, and Chinese organizations to track the migration routes of birds. This information helps improve conservation efforts, and helps scientists understand how the birds are being affected by habitat loss, climate change, and disease.
One of our Australian Fulbright alumni – Robert Mason –studied coral reef bleaching at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is working on ways to improve our ability to predict when reefs are becoming stressed and are at risk of bleaching – and possibly dying – using satellite remote sensing.
One of the things I have been working on is getting specialists from both Australia and the United States together to discuss best practices in conservation.
In August, I went to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mornington Wilderness Camp to talk about their conservation practices. Their efforts to restore native wildlife over a massive expanse of territory were impressive. Some of the things they are doing –such as fencing off large tracts of land and removing invasive species – have long been considered impractical. They are proving that this model can work. And best of all, it may work in other places, including the United States.
Next month, Sydney will play host to leading conservationists from countries around the globe at the World Parks Congress. I’m looking forward to listening to innovative ideas about how to manage protected areas, how to balance conservation and sustainable development, and how to respond to climate change.
Responding to environmental and conservation challenges offers us new opportunities to work together. As with many problems that cross man-made boundaries, building strong and enduring partnerships is crucial to achieving results.
But working together has never been our problem. Even when we disagree, we have always found common ground. We can always find a way forward.
Because we are more than just allies.
Ours is not a one-dimensional alliance.
I love that – even before we signed ANZUS – one of our very first treaties established the Fulbright program. Over its sixty-five years, nearly 5,000 scholars have gone on exchanges between our countries and have advanced our understanding of the world – and each other.
We are the closest of friends, bound by history, and blood, and beliefs. We are family because we will always stand side-by-side to defend each other – come what may – whenever either of us are threatened.
We know that we cannot take our liberties for granted. They must be nurtured, cherished, and protected by each generation.
The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. And there is precious little I know for certain. But I do know this: As long as history endures, the United States and Australia will remain dedicated to the ideals of democracy, justice, human dignity, and freedom.
Together we will make the world better, and leave our children a planet that is cleaner, safer, more secure, and more prosperous than the one we inherited.
May God bless our every effort. And may God bless our two great nations.