Mr. Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Speaker of the House of Commons, Members of Parliament, Senators, Chief Justice, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege to welcome to Parliament today the Prime Minister of Australia and his wife, the Hon. John Howard and Janette.
As anyone who has taken the flight can attest, Canada and Australia are not exactly close neighbours. We are thousands of kilometres apart, in different hemispheres, and on opposite sides of the equator. Yet despite the great distance between our two countries, we share remarkable similarities in many respects.
Canada and Australia would not be the countries they are today without the cultural and other contributions of their aboriginal peoples. Our respective first nations were joined by waves of immigrants, people who came to Canada and Australia for a better life for themselves and their children.
Our two countries are characterized by their natural beauty and their hard and often merciless wilderness. The land, whether it be the arid Australian outback or the rocky Canadian Shield, has played a defining role in shaping our respective national characters. It has left both our peoples a legacy of independence and determination.
Politically, we share an enduring affinity to the Crown and a commitment to a federal system of government. Over the years Australians and Canadians have travelled and lived among each other.
In Prime Minister Howard's home city of Sydney, communities such as Canada Bay and streets with names such as Marceau Drive serve as reminders of the Canadians who moved to Australia after the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada. Toronto, New South Wales was named in honour of Edward “Ned” Hanlon of Toronto, Ontario, a champion rower and the most internationally known Canadian of his era.
Perhaps most importantly, both of our countries have on many occasions stood shoulder to shoulder standing up for right when right needed to be defended.
I think particularly of the two world wars and the Korean conflict where our troops fought together to defend freedom and promote the ideals of human rights and democracy.
Our shared commitment to these values continues to this day, where for instance, Canada and Australia are actively contributing to the effort to bring peace, stability, and hope to millions of people in Afghanistan.
Clearly, our two countries have much in common and much to be proud of: freedom, democracy, the rule of law, values that millions of people around the world can only dream of, values that we should never take for granted, values that the peoples of Canada and Australia ask their elected representatives to uphold.
Prime Minister Howard is a principled leader with vision, a vision of a strong Australia that honours its past while embracing its future, a vision of an Australia in which opportunities are available to all through a strong economy that works for all Australians, and a vision of Australia that punches above its weight on the international stage.
Under his decisive leadership, Australia has become all of these things. Today Australia is a confident nation that simultaneously embraces its historic national symbols while welcoming people from all over the world.
Australia is also a prosperous nation. Under the Prime Minister's watch, taxes have gone down while productivity has gone up, unemployment has gone down while GDP has gone up, new jobs have been created in record numbers, and more and more Australians own their own homes. This is certainly a record of which to be proud.
As announced by his treasurer just last month, Prime Minister Howard's government has now paid down the country's net debt, an amazing accomplishment considering that when he took office the debt stood at almost $100 billion in 1996.
Lastly, under the Prime Minister's leadership, Australia has consolidated its position as an international leader. Whether preserving human rights in East Timor, taking part in the global fight against terrorism or exercising strong regional and international leadership, as it did after the devastating tsunami in December 2004, Australia bravely defends the values it holds dear: democracy, human rights and a safer world for future generations. This government and all Canadians share these values.
In closing, as a new Prime Minister, I would like to express my warm admiration for Prime Minister Howard, my appreciation for his wise counsel, and offer him my sincerest congratulations for the outstanding work he has done since assuming office a decade ago. It is a record of laudable achievement and not bad for someone who leads a party called Liberal.
Through his leadership, Prime Minister Howard is moving his country forward, building a stronger Australia for all Australians, an Australia that works cooperatively with its allies, including Canada.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce a man who has always been and, I am sure, will always be a loyal friend to Canada: the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard.
Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and hon. members of both Houses of the Canadian Parliament, can I first say how deeply honoured I am at the privilege of addressing this joint sitting of the two Houses of the Parliament of Canada.
I am told that the only previous occasion on which an Australian Prime Minister spoke to such a sitting was in 1944 when one of my Labour predecessors John Curtin, on a visit to North America during the war, was extended that great honour and privilege. I do want to therefore say that I regard it as a great personal honour and also a great honour to my country, Australia.
As your Prime Minister has said, the ties of history and of common practice between Australia and Canada are very great indeed.
Both of our nations owe much to those nations of Europe that gave institutions and values, and formation to our societies, to Great Britain, to France, to Ireland and to other nations of Europe.
Both of us, of course, are nations of immigrants, not only from Europe and the Middle East, but in the case of both of our countries in more recent years from Asia. Indeed, the constituency or riding that I represent in Sydney has an ethnic Chinese enrollment of between 10% and 15% and the contribution being made to the modern vibrancy of Australia by immigration from Asia has been one of the many things that have made Australia a confident, outward looking nation in the 21st century.
We are, as the Prime Minister said, kindred nations. We are both, in a sense, children of the enlightenment, that period of rational inquiry, progress and modernity which burst out of Europe but indeed found some of its more fertile acceptance in the nations of the new world.
We share many values. We share the Westminster tradition of parliamentary democracy. We are both federations, Canada coming together in 1867 and Australia in 1901.
We have shared many sacrifices in war. We remember the sacrifice of Australians and Canadians, particularly in those terrible battles of World War I at Passchendaele and elsewhere, and in World War II, it will ever be to the credit of Canada, Australia and Great Britain, and a small band of countries that stood together alone against the tyranny and horror of Nazi Germany for one whole year when all appeared to be lost.
Of course, during World War II, many thousands of Australian airmen trained in Canada, one of them was an uncle of mine from Petersham in Sydney. He fell in love, and wooed and married a girl from Calgary. It is a link that is replicated in thousands of Australian families.
Since then, of course, we have fought together in Korea, the Middle East, East Timor, and now together in response to the new and dangerous threat of terrorism in Afghanistan.
I pay tribute to the enormous contribution of the Canadian nation to the effort in Afghanistan, and I mourn the loss and the sadness of Canadian families in recent days.
We, of course, are nations that have a lot of history in common.
Perhaps if I could characterize our relationship I would put it this way. We have much in common but not as much to do with each other as we should. We have even followed different sporting paths. For reasons that have always escaped my comprehension and understanding, Canadians never embraced cricket. And ice hockey is not widely played in Australia. On that subject, can I congratulate the Edmonton Oilers on reaching the semi-finals. I wish them well as they do battle with those other teams from south of the border.
The fact that perhaps we have not had as much to do with each other as we should have is a function of geography, as the Prime Minister mentioned. I think, hon. members, that the challenges of the world in the first bit of the 21st century are really going to change that because many of those challenges, I believe, if they are to be effectively responded to, will bring Canada and Australia together as never before in common purpose.
Globalization presents to the world the most enormous opportunities. Those countries that pull down their trade barriers and open their economies and embrace globalization are the economies that will thrive and succeed. In that context, let Canada and Australia work together to do what we can as like-minded nations on the subject to bring about a successful conclusion of the Doha trade round.
Australia and Canada have interests in common at Doha. Not only have we legitimate national interests in common, but we have a legitimate interest in seeing barriers broken down so that the poorer nations of the world that rely so heavily on rural exports can gain access to markets that are closed to them at present.
There has in the context of Doha been a very generous offer made by the United States, one that went beyond many expectations of that country. That offer must be reciprocated, and if it is not reciprocated, then the prospects of a breakthrough in agricultural trade will be lost because the possibility of obtaining another authorization from the American Congress for a new trade mandate is very, very dim indeed. We only have a matter of weeks to bring about a successful momentum in relation to Doha, and greater pressure must be applied to the Europeans and to other countries such as Japan, Brazil and India that are not seeing the opportunities that can be embraced in this latest negotiation.
Another area where I believe because of our common interests that Canada and Australia can work together is in the area of climate change. Australia, as you know, did not join Kyoto, not because we are opposed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, we committed ourselves to reach the target set for Australia by Kyoto and we believe that we will achieve that target. But we do not believe that the greenhouse gas challenge and the environmental challenges that Kyoto was meant to address can indeed be accomplished, or overcome rather, unless there is a full involvement of the major polluting nations of the world, the United States, China and India.
It is because of that that Australia has become part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a partnership that brings together the United States, Japan, Indonesia, China and Korea. It is a partnership that seeks not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to bring together the drive toward that and economic development.
In the energy area, which is of course allied to climate change, Canada and Australia have much in common. We are the holders of the largest uranium reserves in the world. Both of us must work together in relation to the recently proposed global nuclear energy partnership which seeks, laudably, to control proliferation, but we must, as the holders of these vast uranium reserves, ensure that that particular partnership does not work against the interests of countries such as Canada and Australia.
Hon. members, for the first time in history, the centre of gravity of the world's middle class is shifting from Europe and North America to Asia, in a sense from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In a few years' time, there will be 400 million to 800 million middle class people in China and India. It represents a historic shift in the experience of the world and will have a profound and lasting impact on the economic growth and economic development of the world.
We as two outward looking nations should not fear this in any way. In fact, this development presents unique opportunities to both of our nations, opportunities that our outward looking societies, if we fully embrace it, can bring great benefit to our citizens. This change in this development uniquely, I believe, suits the type of societies that Australia and Canada represent.
These are some of the opportunities of the early years of the 21st century. They are opportunities for nations such as Canada and Australia that are built on an approach to individual liberty and freedom and an approach to society that sees the worth of a person not according to that person's race, nationality, religion or social background, but according to that person's character and commitment to the well-being of his and her fellow citizens.
It presents to our two nations imbued with those principles, opportunities that together I believe our two countries can embrace. They are the opportunities of the early years of the 21st century, but inevitably there are the brutal challenges of the early years of the 21st century. None of course is greater than the threat of terrorism, this new menace that knows no borders, that knows no morality, that knows no rationality, and defies in terms of ordinary behaviour, predictability.
Terrorists oppose us not because of what we have done. They oppose us because of who we are and what we believe in. Terrorism will not be defeated by nuancing our foreign policy. Terrorism will not be defeated by rolling ourselves into a small ball, going into a corner and imagining that somehow or other we will escape notice.
My own country, according to all of our intelligence advice, was in fact a target for terrorism even before the 11th of September, 2001. The greatest loss of Australian lives in a terrorist attack at Bali in 2002 in fact occurred before the coalition military operation in Iraq.
Terrorism will only be defeated by a combination of strong intelligence, military action where appropriate, and importantly, the spread of democracy particularly among Islamic countries.
In that last context, no nation is more important than Australia's nearest neighbour and most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia. Indonesia, in the last eight years, has undergone a remarkable transition, a transition that draws less comment and less respect than perhaps it deserves. In eight years it has gone from a military dictatorship to the third largest democracy in the world.
What is at stake with countries like Indonesia, but also Pakistan, which is also under moderate Islamic leadership, is fundamental to whether we succeed or fail in the fight against terrorism because if democratic moderate Islam can succeed in the Islamic world, that will act as a powerful and enduring antidote to the menace of terrorism in those societies.
So, in dealing with terrorism of course we need strong and timely intelligence. I note with pride the decades of close collaboration between the intelligence services of Australia and the intelligence services of Canada. However, it needs a combination of strong intelligence, military resolve and the spread of democracy.
None of us should imagine that we are immune from domestic terrorist attacks. We had a timely wake-up call in Australia in the last months of 2005 when some 22 Australians were charged with certain terrorist offences and quite a large number of those were people who had been born in Australia and had grown up in our country.
Just as the people of Great Britain were shocked by the backgrounds and the experiences of those responsible for the London attacks of July 2005, many Australians have found it difficult to believe that something like that could happen in their country.
While I am on the subject of terrorism I would like to say something about Iraq. I know that in relation to Iraq, Australia and Canada took different paths and it is not my point here today to dwell on that. I simply want to applaud the bravery and courage of the 8 million people of Iraq who defied terrorism and physical intimidation to cast their ballots on three occasions in a democratic election.
We, in Canada and Australia, who are used to voting in tranquil circumstances, whatever the passion of political rhetoric might be, should take pause to salute such an extraordinary act of courage and bravery.
In conclusion I would like to say something about the role of the United States in the affairs of the world. Australia, as everyone knows, is an unapologetic friend and ally of the United States. We do not always agree. We have not in the past, we do not now on certain issues and we will not in the future, but I have always taken the view, and the majority of my fellow countrymen the same, that the United States has been a remarkable power for good in the world and that the decency and hope that the power and purpose of the United States represents to the world is something that we should deeply appreciate.
The values for which the United States stands are the values for which Canada and Australia stand. They are values of spreading democracy, of individual liberty and of a society where free enterprise is the principal economic driver, but also a society where the less fortunate should be protected by a decent social security safety net. They are values that I know members on both sides of this House, as, indeed, on both sides of the Houses of the Australian Parliament, share in common.
For those around the world who would want to see a reduced American role in the affairs of our globe, I have some quiet advice, and that is, be careful what you wish for, because a retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world. It will leave the world more exposed to terrorism and it will leave a more fragile and indeed dangerous world.
Mr. Speaker and hon. members, as I said at the commencement of my remarks, you have done me a great honour. To be invited to address the Parliament of a great nation such as Canada, a nation with which we have shared so much in the past and with values we hold so much in common, is for me, a veteran of 32 years of membership in the Australian Parliament, a tremendous honour.
Mr. Prime Minister, I know that I will not be departing in any way from the bipartisan traditions of being a guest in your country in wishing you well in the early months of your prime ministership. I remember the early months of my prime ministership in 1996. I know that there will be some on that side of the House who may not wish for you an emulation of the period of time that I have been in government, but I can say, Prime Minister, that you have brought to your office great vigour, great vitality and a commitment to do some new and different things in Canada.
You lead a minority government, an interesting experience, I am sure, and one that thankfully I have not had to cope with. I do not think I could. I do wish you well, but very importantly, through you, I bring to this Parliament the good wishes of not only the Parliament of Australia but also the people of Australia.
We do believe in the same things, we Australians and Canadians. We are people who do share so much common history and common experience. In the new challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, I believe that with that shared history and experience there is more indeed that we can do in the future, not only for the betterment of the people of Australia and the people of Canada, but for the betterment of all the peoples of the world. Thank you indeed.
Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister Howard, Prime Minister, honourable senators and members of the House of Commons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: On behalf of all parliamentarians and all those assembled, I am honoured, Prime Minister, to express our gratitude for your visit and to thank you for addressing this joint session with such clarity and eloquence. Your words here today remind us of the depth of our shared values and of the importance of defending those values.
Prime Minister, that you would visit Ottawa when the tulips are in bloom might have some of the historians in this chamber recalling that at one time the name “New Holland” was associated with Australia.
Mr. Prime Minister, as you said, the last time an Australian Prime Minister addressed a joint session of Canada's Parliament was in June 1944, a year before the end of the second world war, during which 39,000 Australians and 45,000 Canadians lost their lives. Today, it is all too easy to take for granted the freedom we have thanks to their sacrifice.
Two generations have passed since the end of the war, and our two countries have evolved in that time. Our development has been parallel, and our respective current situations are astonishingly similar.
During the 1950s, we undertook ambitious national construction programs to build the infrastructure for our modern societies. Since the 1960s, our societies have welcomed waves of immigrants, as I mentioned, from all over the world. They brought with them a variety of ideas and talents. They helped create the dynamic societies we live in today.
In fact, Australia and Canada are among the most diverse, dynamic and prosperous countries in the world.
Prime Minister, we must not forget that the reason our forward-looking societies are so successful is that they are based on the same fundamental values that our predecessors fought for, values, as you have mentioned, that we continue to defend in places such as Afghanistan. Most important, Prime Minister, again as you have mentioned, we share the precious heritage of parliamentary government. We have each grown our parliaments, recording changes whether great or small, and always with the practice of freedom as our beacon.
Like a huge extended family, Australians and Canadians have forged strong ties. We visit each other, enjoy each other's films, music and literature, and exchange ideas and goods with each other. When we meet, we recognize in each other a familiar set of ideas.
Prime Minister, by your words and your deeds, you have reaffirmed the lasting ties between our two great countries. Your address today at this joint session of the Parliament of Canada has resonated with the members of both Houses. Our members are attentive to your message and your words, which are unabashedly and refreshingly open to the world of 2006. We share with you, Mr. Prime Minister, the contemporary thirst for the inherent goodness of nature and culture and are unafraid of dialogue with human kind, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, political ideology or creed.
Allow me, therefore, Prime Minister, to once again thank you for having expressed your thoughts so clearly, and on behalf of all present, we wish you Godspeed.
Prime Minister Howard, Mrs. Howard, Prime Minister Harper, Mrs. Harper, Madam Chief Justice, Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Kinsella, members of the diplomatic corps, honourable senators, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen.
Prime Minister Howard, on behalf of all the members of the Canadian House of Commons, indeed, all the pollies in the room, and I understand that is an Australian term for politicians, I want to thank you for having addressed us here today. It is apparent from your address that you have through the years perfected the orating skills that served you so well in your days at Canterbury Boys High School, where I understand that in your final year you took part in a radio show. Apparently, a tape of the show survives and in it you demonstrate an early ability to think very quickly on your feet, trading unscripted humour with the experienced host and delighting the audience. This skill is doubtless one of the reasons why you were first elected member for Bennelong in 1974, and have just celebrated your tenth anniversary as Prime Minister of Australia.
Last August, I had the honour of leading a parliamentary delegation to Australia, aptly named the “Lucky Country”, and there we met our counterparts in the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as colleagues in the Parliament of New South Wales and of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. As you would expect, these meetings were both enjoyable and productive. After all, Canada and Australia share many attributes, from the vastness of our respective lands to the political system inherited from the British tradition of parliamentary democracy. We also enjoy close defence relations, having fought side by side in two world wars and during the Korean War, as the Prime Minister mentioned.
But while we are ever mindful of our shared history, I believe the friendship that exist between our two countries now rests on our shared present. Although your address to Parliament today was certainly a very special event, it is also but one of the myriad contacts that take place between Canada and Australia.
Not only are our nations regularly involved in formal economic, cultural, technological and, indeed, parliamentary exchanges, we also like to stay in touch on a much more basic level. We are constantly listening to each other's music, watching each other's television programs and visiting one another.
A recent newspaper headline for an article on the Canadian-Australian friendship asked the question, “Separated at Birth?”, which speaks of the bond that Canadians feel for Australians. Vast countries both, yes, and a similar political system, but a whole lot more. Tuktoyaktuk and Toowoomba, Cutknife and Indented Head, these towns could be located in either country. Barbecuing, sports, mosquitoes, the amber fluid, which I understand is also known as beer, these are ties that indeed bind us as well as an easy going nature, a certain irreverence and a keen sense of the ridiculous.
Because we share this outlook on life with Australians, my colleagues and I always felt at home while visiting your country, even though we were half a world away. We will always remember the warmth of the welcome we received in Oz, and I hope, Prime Minister, that you feel equally at home when you are here with us.
In closing, please accept my thanks, on behalf of all Members of the House of Commons, for having addressed us today. We hope that you return soon for another Canadian visit, and we wish you Godspeed as you make the long journey to your other home.