1:23 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Prime Minister Morrison, Mrs. Jenny Morrison, Secretary Pompeo, Attorney General Barr, Secretary (inaudible) Alex Azar, my friend, other members of the Cabinet, and distinguished members of Congress who join us today, and to the entire Australian delegation: It is Karen and my honor to join the Secretary of State and Mrs. Pompeo to welcome you here to the State Department for your very first State Visit to the United States of America. (Applause.)
And we’ve had the great privilege to spend time with you in Australia as well, and enjoyed your and Jenny’s hospitality. And while, in the first instance, you did not seek the office you now hold, when the time came around to seek it, you did seek it. And so allow me, on behalf of all of my fellow Americans, to congratulate you on your success in the May elections, Mr. Prime Minister. (Applause.) The people of Australia said “yes” to your leadership. (Applause.)
You were elected as a voice for the “quiet Australians,” which, if you’ll permit me, reminds me of someone who was elected to represent the forgotten men and women of America. And so, you have begun your career.
And I know I speak on behalf of that President when I say what a great honor it is to have you here in our country and here in our nation’s capital today to celebrate, as President Trump said today, “the unbreakable bond between America and Australia.” A bond “rooted in eternal ties of history, [and] culture, and tradition.” And today, I truly believe that, as our as our two countries meet, as you so eloquently put it, we are on “the dawn of a second century of mateship.” (Applause.)
For more than 100 years — 101, to be exact — we have grown together, we have fought together, and freedom has prospered beneath the American flag and the Australian flag. But the relationship between our two countries is diverse and important. And nowhere is that more growing than in the bustling commerce between our two nations.
Today, we’re proud to say the United States is the largest investor in Australia, and you mentioned that in the Oval Office in your meeting with the President today. It makes our country the largest foreign employer in your country, but we’re also very grateful that Australian companies employ more than 74,000 Americans. And exports to Australia support more than a quarter of a million Australian jobs. The economic ties and the bonds of commerce have never been stronger between the United States and Australia. (Applause.)
But it’s about more than commerce and business. The relationship between Australia and the United States is also characterized by our mutual commitment to freedom and our shared values. And I know I speak on behalf of the President and the Secretary of State when I say how grateful we are for the strong partnership that Australia has provided to the United States and our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
And I promise you, the United States of America will continue to stand with Australia and all freedom-loving nations for an Indo-Pacific where independent nations boldly pursue their own interests, respect their neighbors as equals; where societies, beliefs, and traditions can flourish side-by-side in a spirit of liberty. (Applause.)
And we’ll continue to look for new and renewed ways to build on that cooperation. We’ll stand with you to uphold the freedom of navigation in the seas and in this freedom of the airways in the skies.
And, let me also say, as Chairman of the National Space Council, which President Trump recently reconstituted after 25 years of dormancy, how refreshing it was to hear you reflect on our shared aspirations for renewed leadership in space. We are, indeed — as you said, Mr. Prime Minister, we are going back to the moon and then to Mars. And America and Australia will go together, once again. (Applause.)
So, we have — we have security interests in common. We have commerce interests in common. But clearly, as I reflected when Karen and I visited Australia the first time just a few days before ANZAC Day, the greatest ties that bind our two people are the ties that have been forged by the men and women who fought and died shoulder-to-shoulder in the defense of freedom.
For more than 100 years, the sons and daughters of both our lands have fought together in every major conflict to defend our shared ideals. From the Coral Sea to Kandahar, our friendship has been forged in the fires of sacrifice. Even today, in Afghanistan, Australian and American soldiers stand together. And, as the President said, “Together, our people have laid down their lives to protect our civilization from tyranny.” We’ve battled together against the menace of fascism, communism, and radical Islamic terrorism.
And let me say, in the faith tradition that you and — you and I share, that ours is a nation that knows that “No greater love has a man than this, than he should lay down his life for his friends.” And for more than 100 years, it is that shared sacrifice that holds us most closely together. And I promise you, Mr. Prime Minister, the American people will never forget Australia’s fallen and never fail to honor their sacrifice, along with our heroes, for our freedom. (Applause.)
So, with gratitude for the extraordinary and historic alliance between the United States and Australia, and for all that it has meant to the world, and with the confident hope that we have only begun to explore the depths and bounds of prosperity and security that can be derived from this extraordinary mateship, I’d like to invite everyone to raise a glass along with me and the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister to you, Prime Minister Morrison, to Mrs. Morrison, to all the Australian people.
And I will offer a toast with the blessing that you inscribed at the bottom of a letter that you sent to me not long ago. On behalf of the American people, we — we toast and we pray:
May the Lord bless you and keep you and all the good people of Australia. May the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and your good people and ours, and give us peace.
God bless Australia and God bless America. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER MORRISON: Well, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary, Karen, Susan: It is a great pleasure for Jenny and I to be here with so many other Australians, who I see are in the room, and I see so many familiar faces. You pay us a great honor.
Both the Secretary and the Vice President have showed great friendship towards me and to Jenny, particularly since I’ve come into this role. I like the Mikes. I like the Mikes. (Laughter.) I can tell you that for sure.
And no, it’s not just me — Ambassador Hockey and Melissa is here with us today — I, particularly in this room, want to acknowledge the tremendous work that Ambassador Hockey has done in this tremendous relationship. (Applause.) Thank you, Joe.
There’s no better, there’s no stronger, nor any deeper relationship than that that exists between the United States and Australia. At the heart of our deep and abiding friendship are the values and beliefs that knit us together.
It was just over a half a century ago that Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies — the founder of the party that I lead today — said, “Australia and America are warmed by the same inner fires.” He said this:
“We work for the same kind of free world… We live in freedom and will accept no other life. We govern ourselves in democracy and will not tolerate anything less. We cherish liberty and hold it safe, providing hope for the rest of the world. We were born in the same era, sprang from the same stock, and live for the same ideals. Australia and America share an affinity that reaches to our souls.”
Australia is a reliable alliance partner but we’re also a reliable economic partner as well, as the Vice President said. As a trading nation, we know we don’t get rich by selling things to ourselves. We know the benefits of open markets, transparent rules, and the importance of a level playing field. We’ve always looked beyond our shores for our prosperity.
Our ambitious trade strategy is delivering dividends. We posted a record yearly trade surplus of around $50 billion Australian, in the past year — three times larger than our previous record.
One in five Australian jobs depend on global trade. When people ask me, “Why do you go here? Why do you go there and leave our shores?” One in five jobs in Australia depends on us doing just that.
This makes us a champion for the economic success of other nations, as well as our own, because then we can do business with them. The U.S. knows the value of the products and smarts of our businesses have to offer here in the United States.
The U.S. has also benefitted, as we have, significantly, from our bilateral trade and have enjoyed a trade surplus with Australia since the Truman administration. The U.S. enjoys a higher merchandised trade surplus with Australia than with any other G20 nation. And U.S. exports enter Australia tariff-free and quota-free. And you can’t get a better deal than that. (Laughter and applause.)
So we’re very happy to be the gold standard of U.S. trade partners anywhere in the world. Together, we’ve invested some-1.7 trillion Australian dollars in each other’s economy, with the United States being the single largest direct-investor — of any investor in our country. And more than a quarter of Australia’s investment that goes beyond our shores goes here into the United States.
Trade surplus or deficit, Australia will always keep our doors open, because we back ourselves. Supporting that global trading system is therefore critical to our economic success and our future.
And that’s why we want to work closely. And I thank the Vice President and I thank Secretary Pompeo, because we want to work closely with the United States, who is the architect of that system, to ensure that the system keeps pace with the modern digital economy, is updated to provide a level playing field between established developed economies and those that are newly established developed economies, and to protect the IP of businesses in a highly competitive global marketplace. The rules have got to reflect the changes that have happened around the world.
Trade and international engagement is the bulwark against global conflict. This was the post-war vision of the nations, led by the United States, that won the great peace. And this hasn’t changed, but it won’t be enough.
Together, we know that peace and stability cannot be taken for granted. Working together, our democracies have been the ballast in unstable times and places, guaranteeing safety and security to vulnerable people.
As Australians, it has never been our response to say, “This problem is too big or our circumstances are so trying that we should leave it to our great and powerful friend.” We have never left it to the United States. Ours is not the journey of a free rider on the sacrifice of our friends, nor will it ever be.
Our defense spending will reach 2 percent of GDP next financial year. That’s up from just 1.56 percent just 6 years ago, which was the lowest level it had been since the Second World War — before the Second World War. At that level, we’re second only to the United States of the Five Eyes nations, and greater than those much larger nations like Germany and Japan.
We take our responsibility in our own neighborhood very seriously. In our Pacific step-up, which I want to thank the Vice President for his keen interest, both in that partnership that we are forging in the Pacific, but his commitment and interest and passion for the Pacific.
We talk about it as our Pacific family. “Matavuvale,” if you’re in Fiji. (Inaudible), if you’re in Polynesia — to promote shared prosperity, independence, and sovereignty.
In the broader Asia-Pacific, we have forged deep friendships with partnerships over decades with our ASEAN neighbors, with India, and Japan, Korea. And we share a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, our single-largest trading partner.
Where we have had success with partners in our region, it has always been built on mutual respect for sovereignty and independence, and to celebrate their economic success.
It has also been made possible by our alliance with the United States. And your presence and engagement in our region, which is so important because it provides the necessary stability in our region to pursue these relationships. Sustained U.S. and economic and security engagement in the Indo-Pacific has never been more necessary.
Beyond our region, we share a commitment to the sovereignty, also, and prosperity of Israel. For 70 years — and especially recently — we have, in Australia, together, consistently advocated for the nation of Israel and for a peaceful future for the region.
Most recently, under my government, we have taken an even stronger stand against the biased and unfair targeting of Israel in the U.N. General Assembly, together with the United States. And, Mr. Vice President, we will continue to do so. (Applause.)
Australia may not be America’s most powerful friend, but we are certainly, as I said this morning, your most sure and steadfast. We have just celebrated a century of mateship. And at the dawn of a second century of mateship, we draw strength from what we have achieved together so far.
We commit to modernizing our alliance for the times and challenges we now face and we renew our belief in the values that will always sustain us in this endeavor.
So let me also propose a toast, not just to the Mikes — (laughter) — but to the Commonwealth of Australia, but importantly, to these United States of America, and to the better world we have always believed in and told together to achieve.
God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)