SECRETARY POMPEO: Good afternoon, everyone. Please, be seated.
Well, good afternoon and welcome – or should I say G’day? (Laughter.) It is, in fact, that. It is my great honor and privilege to welcome you, Prime Minister Morrison, to the State Department. You hosted, along with your beautiful wife, hosted Susan and me just last month in Sydney. It was spectacular. For our next meal in America, we want you to come out to the real Outback in Kansas – (laughter) – where the people, much like all across America, are kindred spirits with you all.
We’re both continental democracies that share the values of freedom and liberty and of human rights. We’re both Pacific nations settled by true explorers, pioneers, and rebels from the old world.
As Mark Twain once said – he said after a visit to Australia, quote, “You have a spirit of independence which cannot be over-praised.” We Americans like our independence an awful lot too. And although the Aussie press in the room – I promise you, I’m not siding with republicans or the monarchists here – that’s your business. You all pick it. (Laughter.)
And throughout history, our shared values and interests have brought us together time and time again. We fought alongside each other in the Battle of Hamel, in Midway, Guadalcanal, in Korea, and in Vietnam, and in Afghanistan as well. And we have much more to achieve together in the years and decades ahead. And certainly, our effort to achieve peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region is something that we will work closely together.
So at this time, if I might, I’d like to offer a toast:
When General Douglas MacArthur spoke to your Parliament at the height of World War II, he spoke of adding yet another link “to the long chain of friendship which brings our two nations together.”
So here is to that long and unbroken friendship. Cheers.
Mr. Vice President.
(The Vice President gave remarks.)
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 shown 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 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. Thank you, Joe. (Applause.)
There’s no better, there’s no stronger nor any deeper, relationship than 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 will. 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 stalk, 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 are 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 have always looked beyond our shores for our prosperity. Our ambitious trade strategy is delivering dividends. We’ve 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 the 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 merchandise trade surplus with Australia than with any other G-20 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 have 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 nearly 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 postwar 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 six years ago, which was the lowest level it had been since the Second World War – before the Second World War. At that level, we are 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 – a vuvale if you’re in Fiji, or whanau 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, 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 UN 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, 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 toil together to achieve. God bless America.
Thank you. (Applause.)