For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 10, 2001
Remarks by the President
And Prime Minister Howard of Australia
Washington Navy Yard
9:45 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Mr.
Secretary, thank you for those generous comments. It
reconfirms once again the reason I picked you. (Laughter.) I
appreciate your service to the Navy and I appreciate your service to
I'm honored today to join with the Navy to
receive a distinguished visitor, and to present a symbol of America's
esteem. Prime Minister Howard leads a nation that has been
our partner in ANZUS for 50 years, and a friend far longer.
Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard, it's a
real pleasure to have you with us, and also those of you who made the
journey with the Prime Minister. Welcome to America.
My thanks as well to Admirals Clark and
Weaver, and to all the men and women of the United States military who
are with us today. We're sure proud of you.
Those who defend America have always had a
special regard for our Australian allies. And I know -- I
know -- they're really proud to show that regard today.
Another reason we chose this site, Mr.
Prime Minister, is that we have a gift for you. And it's not
that easy to move around. This bell that you are going to
receive has traveled for almost 25 years aboard the only American ship
ever commissioned in honor of an ally's fallen vessel, the U.S.S.
Canberra. She no longer sails, but she gave faithful
service. And this bell is a reminder of a faithful partner,
in times of crisis and in times of calm.
U.S.S. Canberra received her name at the
request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the height of World
War II. The President had received word of an exceptional
action in battle by the Australian Navy, which were steaming alongside
American vessels at Guadalcanal. His Majesty's Australian
ship Canberra did not survive the battle, disappearing into the depths
where she rests today.
It was a great loss of life, and much
heroism amongst the Australian sailors and marines on
board. As a sign of gratitude to those men, and to their
country, the U.S.S. Canberra was commissioned the very next year,
serving my country and honoring yours, Mr. Prime Minister.
One man who served aboard the original
Canberra was Lieutenant Mackenzie Gregory, and we're greatly honored to
have him with us today. Where is Mr. Gregory? Thank you for
being here, sir. We're honored to have
you. (Applause.) You must have been a young
President Roosevelt knew a trustworthy
ally when he saw one. Every President since then has felt
and known the same esteem for Australia.
Mr. Prime Minister, it was one of your own
predecessors, a wartime leader who captured the spirit that has always
made us natural allies. We work for the same kind of free
world, observed Sir Robert Gordon Menzies. We govern ourselves in
democracy, and we will not tolerate anything less. We cherish liberty
and hold it safe, providing hope for the rest of the world.
In the century just passed, Australians
served side by side with Americans in every major military
commitment. In peaceful times like our own, the alliance
between our two nations has helped spare the world from other wars and
dangers. Australia is a strong and peaceful presence in East
Asia and the Pacific.
Australia is a generous land, mindful of
the struggles of poorer nations, always helping when and where it
can. Your government and your good people are an example of
democracy, individual liberty, and the virtues of free trade amongst
On this official visit to our country, I
know that you will meet with nothing but goodwill. And in
meetings with Congress and my administration, you will find willing
partners who understand Australia's importance as a strategic and
economic ally. Though half a world apart, we belong to a
very close community of values and aspirations.
From this visit, Mr. Prime Minister, I
hope that you will take away renewed optimism about our shared
future. And I know that you will take with you a parcel
weighing approximately 250
pounds. (Laughter.) It's a fine bell, with a
great history. And once you get it home, it will always
stand as a sign of the unbounded respect of our nation for the
Welcome to America. May God
bless Australia, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Mr.
President, Mr. Secretary of the Navy; Admiral Vern Clark, Chief of U.S.
Naval Operations; Vice Admiral David Shackleton, Chief of the Royal
Australian Navy; Rear Admiral Chris Weaver, Washington District
Commander; ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen:
Today's simple but moving ceremony in this
historic navy yard here in Washington is a very powerful symbol of the
ties that bind our two nations. On behalf of the Australian people,
Mr. President, I want to thank you and the American Navy for this very
kind and symbolic gesture, a gesture that does underline what we have
been through, what we have meant to each other in the past, what we
mean to each other now, and I know we will mean to each other in the
As you have done, Mr. President, may I
take the opportunity of saying on behalf of the Australian government
how highly my government regards the men and women in uniform who serve
in different ways to defend Australia, and to work with our allies when
required. Your Navy Secretary mentioned the priority that
you had given to budget appropriations for defense in the United
States. Can I likewise say that when my government came to
office in March of 1996, and we were faced with the requirement of
reducing government expenditures, the one area around which we placed a
circle and said no reductions would take place was in the area of
defense. And at the end of last year, we unveiled a white
paper that projects in the defense area, over the next decade, a very
significant increase in expenditure for all areas of defense.
And that is a recognition by the
Australian government and by the Australian people of the enormous
importance of providing proper help and proper recognition to the men
and women who look after the defense interests of our
nation. It is also a recognition that although we live in a
world no longer influenced by the old bipolar divisions between the
Soviet Union and the West, led by the power of the United States, we
nonetheless live in a world which is potentially very unstable,
particularly in the region in which both our nations operate, and where
from time to time the deployment of our forces for peacekeeping
operations would be necessary.
So today's gathering is not only an
historic occasion. It is not only an emotional opportunity
for me to say on behalf of the Australian people, and particularly
Australian naval personnel -- and can I also acknowledge the presence
here of our wonderful survivor from the original Canberra, Mr.
Gregory, how wonderful it is that you have been able to make the
journey from our homeland to come here for this very special
ceremony. It is not only, therefore, an occasion to
recognize the symbolism and the importance placed by that symbolism on
the association between our two nations. But it is also an
opportunity for me to reaffirm, on behalf of the Australian government
and on behalf of the Australian people, the great strength and
continuity of the defense association between Australia and the United
It is 50 years ago this month from that
day in San Francisco in 1951 when the ANZUS treaty was
signed. And in the half-century that has gone by since then,
both the United States and Australia have lived out the covenants of
that treaty to the full. We have fought side by side with
the United States in many conflicts. We have worked together
in peacekeeping operations, most recently in East Timor. And
both of us have been forces for the expansion and not the contraction
And one of the great dividends of the
ANZUS alliance, and indeed, one of the great dividends of the alliances
around the world between free peoples, such as the people of Australia
and the United States, has been the way in which we have seen democracy
expand rather than contract. And by living out the covenants
of the ANZUS treaty, our two nations and our two societies have
demonstrated to the world that values based on freedom and individual
liberty in the end win acceptance. But they only win
acceptance if behind the commitment is a determination on the part of
nations who believe in those values to defend them, if necessary fight
for them, and always be ready to repel those who would seek to take
those freedoms away.
Mr. President, your gesture today and the
gesture on behalf of your nation is one that touches the hearts of all
Australians here today. We value our
alliance. More importantly, we value the common things that
we believe in. The greatest strength of the
American-Australian alliance is that we believe in the same
things. We believe in freedom. We believe in
democracy. We believe that open societies are better
societies than closed societies.
Through the years, we have fought to
defend those values. And this token of yours is a warm
gesture marking the close World War II relationship between our two
countries. And I know it will be very warmly received in
Australia, and seen for what it is: a potent symbol of the great
affection that exists between our two great societies.