The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
February 23, 2007

Vice President's Remarks with Australian Minister of Defense Brendan Nelson with Australian Defence Force Personnel
Victoria Barracks
Sydney, Australia

10:15 A.M. (Local)

DR. NELSON: Mr. Vice President, firstly, welcome again to our country and to Sydney, and to this, the Victoria Barracks, which, as you can see, is one of our finest and longest established institutions. Air Chief Marshall Houston, Chief of Defence, Your Excellency, Ambassador, this morning, we are privileged to be in the presence of a group of men and women who by wearing the uniform of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force define and shape our values -- the way we see ourselves as Australians and what's important to us. And what these men and women do, and how they do it and how their predecessors have done it since -- for almost a hundred years or more in our country, we share your ideals, the belief in freedom, in human dignity, the belief in respecting the rights and freedoms of other human beings and upholding our responsibilities to do it throughout the world.

We're also very mindful that we are free people today not only because of our own sacrifices, but the sacrifices of your country -- particularly in the Pacific, and particularly at the Coral Sea and other places in 1942. You are very welcome here, sir.

And these are a cross section of our finest men and women from cooks and stewards and logisticians, infantry, sailors, airmen and women, loadies, Special Services, the whole variety. Thank you, sir. And you're very welcome.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. Minister. I wanted to come by this morning. This is the first opportunity for me to visit the Victoria Barracks, but I've been familiar with the great work of the Australian Defence Forces since I was Secretary some 15 years ago. One of the highlights I mentioned was coming down on the 50th anniversary of the Coral Sea and bringing the aircraft carrier Independence to the entire battle group for a weekend of liberty, or a week of liberty here in Australia. It was a great event, and I always think of that when I see Sydney Harbor out here.

But the fact is, of course, we all remember -- we Americans remember John Howard was in Washington on 9/11, had given a speech there the day before 9/11, and after those events of that day, made it clear that Australia was in the global war on terror right alongside the United States and many other nations. And I wanted to come by this morning to say thank you for the work and contribution that your forces have made in many places in the world, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is deeply appreciated. We have no better ally either in terms of competence or in terms of willingness and ability to work together. We've been doing it for a hundred years, and it's very, very important that we continue. Obviously in the years ahead, so I came by this morning simply to thank you for what you've done with all of us.

END 10:18 A.M. (Local)

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