Policy & History

Australia is a vital ally, partner, and friend of the United States. The United States and Australia maintain a robust relationship underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests, and cultural affinities. Economic, academic, and people-to-people ties are vibrant and strong. The two countries marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015. In 2017, the United States and Australia marked the 75th anniversary of several key World War II battles, including the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. In 2018, the two countries marked 100 Years of Mateship (Friendship), commemorating the Battle of Hamel in which U.S. and Australian forces first fought side-by-side.

Bilateral defense ties and cooperation are exceptionally close. U.S. and Australian forces have fought together in every significant conflict since World War I.  The Australia, New Zealand, and United States (ANZUS) Security Treaty, concluded in 1951, is Australia’s pre-eminent security treaty alliance and enjoys broad bipartisan support.  Australia invoked it for the first time in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The two countries signed the U.S.-Australia Force Posture Agreement at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in August 2014, paving the way for even closer defense and security cooperation.  This has  included the annual rotation of Marines to Darwin and enhanced rotations of U.S. Air Force aircraft to Australia.  In October 2015, the U.S. and Australian defense agencies signed a Joint Statement on Defense Cooperation to serve as a guide for future cooperation.  In 2017, the United States and Australia participated in the seventh Talisman Saber, a biennial joint military exercise designed to ensure and demonstrate the ability of the two defense forces to work together with the highest levels of interoperability.

The U.S.-Australia alliance is an anchor for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.   Both countries share a strong interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, overflight, and other lawful uses of the sea, including in the South China Sea.  They work closely in Afghanistan and cooperate on efforts to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) , as well as address the challenges and counter foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremism.  Arms control and counter-proliferation is another area of close U.S.-Australia cooperation.  In addition to AUSMIN consultations, Australia and the United States engage in a trilateral security dialogue and a trilateral infrastructure partnership with Japan.

The first treaty signed between the United States and Australia was the 1949 agreement that established the Fulbright program, and since then more than 5,000 Australians and Americans have received Fulbright scholarships.  The United States and Australia have concluded a mutual legal assistance treaty to enhance bilateral cooperation on legal and counter-narcotics issues.  The two countries have also signed tax and defense trade cooperation treaties, as well as agreements on health cooperation, space, science and technology, emergency management cooperation, and social security.  Many U.S. institutions conduct cooperative scientific activities in Australia.  The United States and Australia support the Global Health Security Agenda to accelerate measurable progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

More information about U.S.-Australia relations is available here…