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Remarks at the Australian American Leadership Dialogue Gala Dinner


Date : 08 August 2019

Author: The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Federal Member for Kooyong



9 August 2019

I would like to recognise Phil and the First Lady of the Dialogue, Julie Scanlan, twenty-seven years running the Dialogue and not out! To Chairman Mark Vaile, Governor Kim Beazley, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, my parliamentary colleagues, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Richard Marles, and his leader, and my sometimes tennis doubles partner, Anthony Albanese. But Anthony, I have to say, as a doubles partner, you make a very good Opposition Leader!

It is a great pleasure to be here representing our Prime Minister who’s looking forward to his visit to Washington in just six weeks time.

I also want to recognise Ambassador Culvahouse, as well as Ambassador Hockey.

Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies sent a number of Ambassadors to Washington, and he said one of the key qualifications for an Ambassador to Washington was to be able to get an audience with the President. Well, Joe, you’ve gone a step better than that. You’ve got a couple of rounds of golf with the President! We know that Arthur Sinodinos will do a wonderful job too. He’s a very good friend, a close colleague, who will do an excellent job in Washington, but I just hope he’s practicing his putting!

Friends, we live in very interesting times. Kim Jong Un is taking selfies in Singapore and welcoming an American President for the first time across the DMZ. The European Project is on edge, as the third British Prime Minister in as many years is on a collision course over Brexit. The Sunni-Shi’ite divide is leading foes to become friends in the fragmented Middle East, and protectionism is back, damaging not only the protagonists, but bystanders as well. It’s fair to ask whatever happened to Francis Fukuyama’s thesis about ‘the end of history’ and the world’s unipolar moment?

But this is the world as it is, not the world as we want it to be. And that is why it’s more important than ever that our two great nations, the United States and Australia, work more closely than ever. And to have  Congressman Joe Courtney and US Senator Roy Blunt, and their very senior delegation here with us means a lot. Because now we need to work together in an unprecedented way across the economic, the strategic and the political realms, and to do so consistent with our values, consistent with our objectives, and faithful to our history.

America, after all, is the nation of Lend-Lease, the Marshall Plan and  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” The peace and the prosperity that we in the world enjoy today is due in no small part to the projection of American values well beyond its shores and the strength of America and the sacrifice of America.

It’s not only our privilege to be strong, it’s our duty to be strong and this is where Americas place in the world is so important.

This dialogue, building relationships across so many different levels and in so many different areas, is all directed to reach that end goal.

Ladies and gentleman, I know that President Trump is slightly unconventional, but he and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have developed a wonderfully productive and strong working relationship.

And I don’t need to remind you that some unconventional Presidents with a media background have also defied their critics.

And this is where I will end with an anecdote from that 1980 Presidential Debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Reagan was being lampooned for his lack of experience at the height of the Cold War and in that debate, they said to him, “President Reagan, don’t you feel ill-equipped to take on the communists?” Without missing a beat, he tilted his head, looked down the camera deadpan and said “no, as Governor, I’ve been obliged on many occasions to have to negotiate with the city of Santa Monica!”

Ladies and gentleman, the rest is history.

Enjoy the night and thank you.


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