Statement to the Parliament: 70th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Defence

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1 September 2021

I follow the fine words of the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and the Deputy Prime Minister, and join with all of them and people in both the United States and Australia today who recognise the giants that stand behind the success, the creation, the formation of the ANZUS alliance.

The Prime Minister spoke of Percy Spender and many other leaders on both sides – Democrats and Republicans, Labor and Liberal – we have over the course of the last 70 years been incredibly well served as a nation because of their efforts. The efforts of Menzies and Curtin, of Holt and Johnson, of Hawke and Reagan, of Bush 41 and Bush 43, of Howard and of Prime Ministers since that period. We have each seen the importance and the necessity in the alliance to the mutual benefit of our two countries. We've done that because we share values, we share history and, most importantly, we share a future. We recognise those efforts, but we would do them a disservice if we didn't recommit to this alliance in a way that made a rallying call for people in our own region in the years and decades ahead.

Spender had incredible foresight, as did others over different periods of this 70 years, in recognising that there would be a future of uncertainty. We know now in the Indo-Pacific that we live in a more uncertain time, more so than any period since the Second World War. We can highlight the Battle of the Coral Sea, the effort in PNG and elsewhere in the region that provided security to our nation over the course of the Second World War.

There are countries in our region now that look to Australia, to the United States and to New Zealand because of the values we bring to the table. It is more important than ever in a time when the Communist Party of China is increasing their military assets at an unprecedented rate, when their acquisition of nuclear weapons and their deployment of their grey zone powers in our region is without precedent.

If we mean anything in our region, we represent it most ably through this alliance. The values we bring to the table for countries in our region mean they have the ability to trust in us. Millions of people across our region have been lifted from poverty or live a better life today because of peace in our region, and it must be maintained. The ANZUS alliance has been forged in war and in peacetime, and it now serves us in a particular way because there are countries who need our support now more than ever in the Indo-Pacific.

Those countries will continue to look to the United States in the good times and bad. We need to make sure that, through our commitments – in a military sense, in a trade sense, in other ways that reflect our values – we speak very loudly about that commitment.

We have seen the United States at its best when it is in an alliance – in an alliance and a coalition with others who share her values – and Australia ticks each of those boxes. Our friends in New Zealand tick each of those boxes. The work of New Zealand in the Indo-Pacific is more important in the coming years and decades than ever before, and it will give even greater meaning to this ANZUS agreement.

Our commitment to provide support to troops from the United States across the North of our country, in particular, is more important than ever and is only possible because of this alliance. The intelligence that we shared in Kabul in recent days, that ultimately saved the lives of Australian citizens, our troops, and those visa holders, was only possible because of this alliance. It is only the most recent manifestation of the significance of this collaboration, of this partnership.

I want to commend the Prime Minister for his work in the Quad and in other multilateral fora, but this is the pre-eminent body for us. The work between the Biden Administration and the Morrison administration now, as I think people over the coming months will come to realise, will reinforce the value of this relationship.

The ANZUS alliance under this Government has never been stronger. I can say that with absolute commitment and dedication to the ANZUS alliance.

I want to recognise all of those whom we deal with regularly, in particular the Secretary of Defense in the United States and our other counterparts. This alliance means more to Australia and the United States and to the Indo-Pacific than even Percy Spender could have imagined – to do them justice as I said in my opening remarks. We must give this commitment in a substantive way because it represents the values of each of us; and together as an alliance, as a coalition, as a family, we are at our strongest.


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