Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 17, 2011

Thursday 17 November 2011 – President Obama addresses Australia’s Federal Parliament.

Up and about before 8am, if not arisen by then,. I feel guilty, 7am would be preferable, but at present not sleeping well, so need to get any extra minutes I can manage! Nice and sunny outside, but before venturing there, I decided it was time I got back to a little painting I started about 12 months ago – it has been awaiting my return!!! A simple landscaped ocean/beachfront view. I purchased an arty folio the other day – it has my one A# size attempt in it now, also, simply titled ‘Beach Scene’ dated 13 February 2010. I have two other pieces – a small photo size effort in a frame, and an A4 sized picture on a block shaped cardboard frame.  Both of those are displayed amongst my bookshelves at present, and they indicate that trees and water are my favourite subjects at the moment. All have been painted with oils. There is also an A3 sized pencil sketch, looking through my bedroom curtains across the street.  And that dear friends, is the extent of my 60s era painting exercise – today, I finally get back to it, which should please my two girls who purchased a number of materials to get me started, two Christmas’s ago!!

Just as our Family History AGM began yesterday, I received a phone message which I ignored at the time – from Jackie at VPTA, advising that my replacement had begun work there and wondering when I could come over and perform a kind of ‘handover’ – while Jackie probably expected or wanted me to do it this week, I eventually sent back a message to say that Monday next suited me the best. That will make it a busy week with a number of other visits planned to the city, but I decided would be best to get it over and done with – there are still a few things I like to tidy up in that job, but really after Monday, it will hopefully be no longer my responsibility at all, though I will expect the odd phone call or query about procedures to come down the track. Or perhaps not!  I had no-one to call on when I began there, and I’m sure our selected new person is fully capable of taking over. After next week then, I hope to hear very little from my last employer

Meanwhile, we had rather an important visitor arrive in Australia yesterday – USA President Obama – and this morning, he will addressing a joint sitting of both Houses of Federal Parliament in Canberra. He is only in Australia for 30 hours [at a cost of millions of dollars, considering the huge support and security teams with him], and after finishing formalities in Canberra, flies across to Darwin of all places before departing the country.  I guess, the value of the Darwin visit, is the historical ties relating to World War II, with a number of US personnel killed during the bombing of Darwin in 1942, a few months after the Pearl Harbour attack, and secondly,  the fact that Darwin will be the main entry point for US marines, etc under the newly announced defence arrangements between the two countries.  I’m rather glad to be home and to have the opportunity to watch his address this morning. Certainly, Prime Minister, Julia Gillard is lapping up the visit, and the ‘new’ friendship she seems to have generated with Mr Obama as two world leaders. Some would say, that in view of the way that John Howard was criticised for his close friendship with George W Bush, that the current situation is a little hypocritical, and I would agree with that view, although keeping in mind that perhaps Bush was a more ‘risky’ US leader to sponsor such close ties with, and that Howard gave the impression we would follow the US wherever Bush led us. That feeling is maybe not quite as strong under the present Australian government.

Already however, there have been verbal repercussions from China over latest agreements etc, between the USA and Australia –  as headlined in this morning’s Australian newspaper –

 ‘China has strongly reproached Canberra over strengthened US defence ties, warning Australia may be “caught in the crossfire.”’ A strongly-worded editorial in the state-owned People’s Daily said the new Australian-US defence pact posed a security threat to Australia. “Australia surely cannot play China for a fool. It is impossible for China to remain detached, no matter what Australia does to undermine its security,” it said. “If Australia uses its military bases to help the US harm Chinese interests, then Australia itself will be caught in the crossfire.” The editorial admonished Australia for relying on China for its economic interests while turning to the United States for political and security purposes. “Gillard may be ignoring something – their economic co-operation with China does not pose any threat to the US, whereas the Australia-US military alliance serves to counter China,” it said The Chinese Foreign Ministry also branded the strengthened alliance as inappropriate and counter to the peaceful development of the region. “It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said last night.’

Prior to his Parliament address, President Obama paid his formal respects at the Australian War Memorial, with particular emphasis on the current Afghanistan conflict and the loss of Australian lives over there.  

Of course, this can be regarded as another case of Chinese bluff and bark, but nevertheless, will be interesting to see the reactions of both Gillard and Obama, who have in fact already responded to the Chinese comments. Attempting to smooth  over any potential threat or specific concern about dangers from Chinese military aims in the region.

The address to Parliament. I notice that amongst many other guests, we have John Howard and Kim Beasley present – two men who spent a great deal of their lives in that establishment.  Hopefully Bob Brown, leader of the Greens will behave himself this time – last visit, by George W Bush, saw Brown stand up in Parliament and verbally protest against US policies as Bush was speaking! He behaved himself this time!

Parliament convened at 10.125am, and after the obligatory prayer & Lord’s Prayer, by the Speaker, Harry Jenkins, and a welcome to the Senate for this joint sitting of both House in the House of Representatives, there was a brief break before the entrance of the President of the USA was announced. He shook various hands as he made his way down towards the Speaker’s chair, and took a seat between the Speaker,  and the President of the Senate. But before we could hear Barak Obama, well of course, the Prime Minister had to give her welcome address, and that was followed by Tony Abbott, acting likewise on behalf of the Opposition. Thankfully, it didn’t go any further, for a moment there, I thought we were going to also here from the leaders of The Greens, the Nationals, and perhaps even the Independents! But no, it was time for Barak Obama to give his address. Prior to that, I was feeling a little emotional at the significance of the event. He was only the 4th US President to address the Australian Parliament, with former US presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush  having previously done so during their visits to Australia in 1992, 1996 and 2003. By coincidence, four Australian Prime Ministers have also addressed the US Parliament, namely, Sir Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke, John Howard, and just recently, Julia Gillard. Anyway, in my usual fashion, I took various notes as I was listening and watching Obama speak,  but have decided, that as I found a copy of his speech shortly afterwards, I might record the whole of his address in these pages – it lasted just under 30 minutes.

Of particular significance of the speech, was the promise of  an enhanced US presence in our neighbourhood.  In comments that build on the planned boost to the US military presence in Australia, Mr Obama said he placed a “top priority” on America playing a greater role in the Asia-Pacific. “As the world’s fastest-growing region – and home to more than half the global economy – Asia is critical to achieving my highest priority: creating jobs and opportunity for the American people,” he told the Australian parliament. “With most of the world’s nuclear powers and nearly half of humanity, this region will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.”   “As President, I’ve therefore made a deliberate and strategic decision – as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with allies and friends.” The new American focus on the region will see troops diverted to our neighbourhood as the US winds down its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the US would build closer ties with China, including greater military cooperation. But he also said the US would push for improvements in human rights in the Communist-led country. “We will do this even as we continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people,” he said. Mr Obama said his plans for military expansion in the region would be quarantined from cuts in the US Defence budget as part of fiscal belt-tightening in Washington DC.  “Reductions in US defence spending will not – I repeat, will not – come at the expense of the Asia Pacific,” he said.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Well, at this point, here is a transcript of Barack Obama’s address to the Australian Parliament, on this 17th day of November, 2011…………………

Prime Minister Gillard, Leader Abbott, thank you both for your very warm welcome. Mr Speaker, Mr President, Members of the House and Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the honour of standing in this great chamber to reaffirm the bonds between the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia, two of the world’s oldest democracies and two of the world’s oldest friends.   To you and the people of Australia, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality. And here, in this city-this ancient “meeting place”-I want to acknowledge the original inhabitants of this land, and one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, the First Australians.

I first came to Australia as a child, travelling between my birthplace of Hawaii, and Indonesia, where I would live for four years.  As an eight-year-old, I couldn’t always understand your foreign language. Although, last night I did try to talk some Strine.   And today I don’t want to subject you to any earbashing. I really do love that one and I will be introducing it into the vernacular in Washington.  But to a young American boy, Australia and its people – your optimism, your easy-going ways, your irreverent sense of humour – all felt so familiar; it felt like home.  I’ve always wanted to return. I tried last year. Twice. But this is a Lucky Country. And today I feel lucky to be here as we mark the 60th anniversary of our unbreakable alliance.

The bonds between us run deep.  In each other’s story we see so much of ourselves. Ancestors who crossed  vast oceans-some by choice, some in chains.   Settlers who pushed west across sweeping plains. Dreamers who toiled with hearts and hands to lay railroads and to build cities.  Generations of immigrants who, with each new arrival, add a new thread to the brilliant tapestry of our nations.

And we are citizens who live by a common creed-no matter who you are no matter what you look like, everyone deserves a fair chance; everyone deserves a fair go.  Of course, progress in our societies has not always come without tension, or struggles to overcome a painful past. But we are countries with a willingness to face our imperfections, and to keep reaching for our ideals.  That’s the spirit we saw in this chamber, three years ago, as this nation inspired the world with a historic gesture of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.  It’s the spirit of progress, in America, which allows me to stand before you today, as President of the United States. And it’s the spirit I’ll see later today when I become the first US president to visit the Northern Territory, where I’ll meet the traditional owners of the Land.

Nor has our progress come without great sacrifice.   This morning, I was humbled and deeply moved by a visit to your war memorial and pay my respects to Australia’s fallen sons and daughters.   Later today, in Darwin, I’ll join the Prime Minister in saluting our brave men and women in uniform.  And it will be a reminder that – from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains of Afghanistan – Aussies and Americans have stood together, we have fought together we have given lives together in every single major conflict of the past hundred years. Every single one.

This solidarity has sustained us through a difficult decade.  We will never forget that the attacks of 9/11 took the lives, not only of Americans, but people from many nations, including Australia.  In the United States, we will never forget how Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty-for the first time ever-showing that our two nations stand as one. And none of us will ever forget those we’ve lost to al Qaeda’s terror in the years since, including innocent Australians.  That’s why we are determined to succeed in Afghanistan. It’s why I salute Australia-outside of NATO, the largest contributor of troops to this vital mission.  And it’s why we honour all those who have served there for our security, including 32 Australian patriots who gave their lives, among them Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin. We will honour their sacrifice by making sure that Afghanistan is never again used as source for attacks against our people. Never again.

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and dignity of people around the world.  We see it when our rescue workers rush to help others in times of fire and drought and flooding rains.  We see it when we partner to keep the peace-from East Timor to the Balkans-and when we pursue our shared vision: a world without nuclear weapons.  We see it in the development that lifts up a child in Africa; the assistance that saves a family from famine; and when we extend our support to the people of the Middle East and North Africa, who deserve the same liberty that allows us to gather in this great hall of democracy.

This is the alliance we reaffirm today – rooted in our values; renewed by every generation.  This is the partnership we’ve worked to deepen over the past three years.  And today I can stand before you and say with confidence that the alliance between the United States and Australia has never been stronger. As it has been to our past, our alliance continues to be indispensable to our future. So, here, among close friends, I’d like to address the larger purpose of my visit to this region-our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia Pacific.

For the United States, this reflects a broader shift.  After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.  In just a few weeks, after nearly nine years, the last American troops will leave Iraq and our war there will be over.  In Afghanistan, we’ve begun a transition, a responsible transition so Afghans can take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces can draw down. And with partners like Australia, we’ve struck major blows against al Qaeda and put that terrorist organisation on the path to defeat, including delivering justice to Osama bin Laden.  So make no mistake, the tide of war is receding, and America is looking ahead to the future we must build.  From Europe to the Americas, we’ve strengthened alliances and partnerships.  At home, we’re investing in the sources of our long-term economic strength-the education of our children, the training of our workers, the infrastructure that fuels commerce, the science and the research that leads to new breakthroughs.  We’ve made hard decisions to cut our deficit and put our fiscal house in order-and we will continue to do more. Because our economic strength at home is the foundation of our leadership in the world, including here in the Asia Pacific.

Our new focus on this region reflects a fundamental truth – the United States has been, and always will be, a Pacific nation.  Asian immigrants helped build America, and millions of American families, including my own, cherish our ties to this region.  From the bombing of Darwin to the liberation of Pacific islands, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to a cold Korean peninsula, generations of Americans have served here, and died here. So democracies could take root. So economic miracles could lift hundreds of millions to prosperity.  Americans have bled with you for this progress, and we will never allow it to be reversed.

Here, we see the future.  As the world’s fastest-growing region-and home to more than half the global economy-the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority and that is creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.  With most of the world’s nuclear powers and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.  As President, I have therefore made a deliberate and strategic decision – as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with allies and friends.

Let me tell you what this means.  First, we seek security, which is the foundation of peace and prosperity. We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. Where international law and norms are enforced. Where commerce and freedom of navigation are not impeded. Where emerging powers contribute to regional security, and where disagreements are resolved peacefully.  That is the future we seek.

Now, I know that some in this region have wondered about America’s commitment to upholding these principles. So let me address this directly.  As the United States puts our fiscal house in order, we are reducing our spending. And yes, after `a decade of extraordinary growth in our military budgets – and as we definitively end the war in Iraq, and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan – we will make some reductions in defence spending.  As we consider the future of our armed forces, we have begun a review that will identify our most important strategic interests and guide our defence priorities and spending over the coming decade.

So here is what this region must know.  As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority. As a result, reductions in US defence spending will not – I repeat, will not – come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.  My guidance is clear.  As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.  We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace. We will keep our commitments, including our treaty obligations to allies like Australia.  And we will constantly strengthen our capabilities to meet the needs of the 21st century. Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in this region.

The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay. Indeed, we’re already modernising America’s defence posture across the Asia-Pacific.  It will be more broadly distributed – maintaining our strong presence in Japan and on the Korean peninsula, while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia.  Our posture will be more flexible – with new capabilities to ensure that our forces can operate freely. And our posture will be more sustainable – by helping allies and partners build their capacity, with more training and exercises.

We see our new posture here in Australia.  The initiatives that the Prime Minister and I announced yesterday will bring our two militaries even closer. We’ll have new opportunities to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.  And it will allow us to respond faster to the full range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief.  Since World War II, Australians have warmly welcomed American service members who’ve passed through.  On behalf of the American people, I thank you for welcoming those who will come next, as they ensure that our alliance stays strong and ready for the tests of our time.  We see America’s enhanced presence in the alliances we’ve strengthened.  In Japan, where our alliance remains a cornerstone of regional security. In Thailand, where we’re partnering for disaster relief.  In the Philippines, where we’re increasing ship visits and training. And in South Korea, where our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.   Indeed, we also reiterate our resolve to act firmly against any proliferation activities by North Korea.  The transfer of nuclear materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies.  And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.  We see America’s enhanced presence across Southeast Asia.  In our partnership with Indonesia against piracy and violent extremism, and in our work with Malaysia to prevent proliferation. In the ships we’ll deploy to Singapore, and in our closer cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia. And in our welcome of India as it “looks east” and plays a larger role as an Asian power.

At the same time, we’re re-engaged with regional organisations.  Our work in Bali this week will mark my third meeting with ASEAN leaders, and I’ll be proud to be the first American president to attend the East Asia Summit.  Together, I believe we can address shared challenges, such as proliferation and maritime security, including cooperation in the South China Sea.  Meanwhile, the United States will continue our effort to build a cooperative relationship with China.  All of our nations – Australia, the United States, all of our nations – have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China-and that is why the United States welcomes it.  We’ve seen that China can be a partner, from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to preventing proliferation.  And we’ll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.  We will do this, even as continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people.

A secure and peaceful Asia is the foundation for the second area in which America is leading again – and that’s advancing our shared prosperity.  History teaches us the greatest force the world has ever known for creating wealth and opportunity is free markets.  So we seek economies that are open and transparent.  We seek trade that is free and fair. And we seek an open international economic system, where rules are clear and every nation plays by them.  In Australia and America, we understand these principles. We’re among the most open economies on earth.  Six years into our landmark trade agreement, commerce between us has soared. Our workers are creating new partnerships and new products, like the advanced aircraft technologies we build together in Victoria.  We’re the leading investor in Australia, and you invest more in America than you do in any other nation, creating good jobs in both countries.  We recognise that economic partnerships can’t just be about one nation extracting another’s resources.  We understand that no long-term strategy for growth can be imposed from above.

Real prosperity – prosperity that fosters innovation and prosperity that endures – comes from unleashing our greatest economic resource and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit, the talents of our people.  So even as America competes aggressively in Asian markets, we’re forging the economic partnerships that create opportunity for all.  Building on our historic trade agreement with South Korea, we’re working with Australia and our other APEC partners to create a seamless regional economy.  And with Australia and other partners, we’re on track to achieve our most ambitious trade agreement yet, and a potential model for the entire region-the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The United States remains the world’s largest and most dynamic economy. But in an interconnected world, we all rise and fall together.  That’s why I pushed so hard to put the G20 at the front and centre of global economic decision-making – to give more nations a leadership role in managing the international economy, including Australia.  Together, we saved the world economy from a depression. Now, our urgent challenge is to create the growth that puts people to work.

We need growth that is fair, where every nation plays by the rules – where workers rights are respected and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market-driven, so no nation has an unfair advantage.  We also need growth that is broad – not just for the few, but for the many, with reforms that protect consumers from abuse and a global commitment to end the corruption that stifles growth. We need growth that is balanced, because we’ll all prosper more when countries with large surpluses take action to boost demand at home.  And we need growth that is sustainable.  This includes the clean energy that creates green jobs and combats climate change, which cannot be denied.  We see it in the stronger fires, the devastating floods and the Pacific islands confronting rising seas.

And as countries with large carbon footprints, the United States and Australia have a special responsibility to lead.  Every nation will contribute to the solution in its own way, and I know this issue is not without controversy, in both our countries.   But what we can do – what we are doing – is to work together to make unprecedented investments in clean energy; to increase energy efficiency; and to meet the commitments we made at Copenhagen and Cancun.  We can do this. And we will.  As we grow our economies, we’ll also remember the link between growth and good governance – the rule of law, transparent institutions and the equal administration of justice.  Because history shows that, over the long run, democracy and economic growth go hand in hand. An d prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.

This brings me to the final area where we are leading – our support for the fundamental rights of every human being.  Every nation will chart its own course.  Yet it is also true that certain rights are universal, among them freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders.  These are not American rights, or Australian rights, or Western rights. These are human rights.  They stir in every soul, as we’ve seen in the democracies that have succeeded here in Asia.  Other models have been tried and they have failed-fascism and communism, rule by one man and rule by committee.  And they have failed for the same simple reason. They ignore the ultimate source of power and legitimacy – the will of the people.  Yes, democracy can be messy and rough, and I understand you all mix it up good during Question Time.  But whatever our differences of party of ideology, we know in our democracies we are blessed with the greatest form of government ever known to man.  So, as two great democracies, we speak up for these freedoms when they are threatened.

We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends.  We encourage open government, because democracies depend on an informed and active citizenry.  We help strengthen civil societies, because they empower citizens to hold their governments accountable.  And we advance the rights of all people-women, minorities and indigenous cultures – because when societies harness the potential of all their citizens, these societies are more successful, they are more prosperous and they are more just.  These principles have guided our approach to Burma, with a combination of sanctions and engagement.  Today, Aung San Suu Kyi is free from house arrest.  Some political prisoners have been released and the government has begun a dialogue.  Still, violations of human rights persist. So we will continue to speak clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States.

Barack Obama

SPEECH: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak. Source: AP

 

This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific-security, prosperity and dignity for all. That’s what we stand for. That’s who we are.  That’s the future we will pursue, in partnership with allies and friends, and with every element of American power.  So let there be no doubt: in the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.  Still, in times of great change and uncertainty, the future can seem unsettling. Across a vast ocean, it’s impossible to know what lies beyond the horizon. But if this vast region and its people teach us anything, it’s that the yearning for liberty and progress will not be denied. It’s why women in this country demanded that their voices be heard, making Australia the first nation to let women vote and run for parliament and, one day, become prime minister.  It’s why people took to the streets – from Delhi to Seoul, from Manila to Jakarta – to throw off colonialism and dictatorship and then build some of the world’s largest democracies.  It’s why a soldier in a watch tower along the DMZ defends a free people in the South, and why a man from the North risks his life to escape across the border. Why soldiers in blue helmets keep the peace in a new nation. And why women of courage go into the brothels to save young girls from modern-day slavery, which must come to an end.  It’s why men of peace in saffron robes faced beatings and bullets, and why every day – from some of the world’s largest cities to dusty rural towns, in small acts of courage the world may never see – a student posts a blog; a citizen signs a charter; an activist remains in the closing part of his Address.what the world must never forget.

The currents of history may ebb and flow, but over time they move decidedly, decisively, in a single direction.  History is on the side of the free-free societies, free governments, free economies, free people. And the future belongs to those who stand firm for these ideals, in this region and around the world.  This is the story of the alliance we celebrate today. This is the essence of America’s new leadership, it is the essence of our partnership. And this is the work we will carry on together, for the security, the prosperity, and the dignity of all people.  So God bless Australia, God bless America, and God bless the friendship between our two peoples.

Thank you very much.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Yes, that was a long insertion to include on my pages, but I thought it important, to have something to refer back upon, like election promises, Obama’s inauguration speech, Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Indigenous Australians, and so on – significant moments in our history that I consider important to record, and that’s why I want a record in my life’s story, part of which is reflected through my daily blog entries, and my concerns and interest in what is happening in our world.  Later, as I read a few more pages from the 1930s story of the life of John Flynn, I realised that even today, here in Australia, there is so much that still needs attention, so many residents of our country who don’t really get that ‘fair go’ [eighty years after that book was written], that Obama referred to in his Address.

 

 

 

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