Julia Gillard

Remarks at State Dinner in Honor of Barack Obama

delivered 16 November 2011, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

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President Obama; Mr. Harry Jenkins, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator, the Honorable John Hogg, President of the Senate; the Honorable Tony Abbot, Leader of the Opposition; Honorable Members of the Australian Parliament; distinguished guests; one and all:

Mr. President, it's good to see you again after so long. I think it's been two days. And when I saw you emerge from Air Force One today I thought two things: One, it's a lot easier to run down stairs if you're not wearing high heels. And two, whilst I've been counseled by the Chief of our Air Force about making this statement, I'm going to do it anyway: Our Air Force plane made it back from Hawaii to Australia before Air Force One.

Now, that statement may not be a deep analysis but I thought I should make it anyway. And Mr. President, I also wanted to say to you we've been a little bit nervous about tonight because my partner, Tim, really got a talking to from the First Lady when we were in Hawaii. She said to him that you often don't eat because you are so focused on your work that you forget to eat, and she wanted to make sure that we fed you well in Australia.

So, the only answer to that was to ensure you had a hearty meal, and to make sure that there were six to seven hundred witnesses so that Michelle will know that we have been feed -- feeding you well while you're here.

But, Mr. President, you come to Australia tonight to share a night of friendship and to share a visit in which we will look to the future. You come to our country with all of the honors due to a Head of State. You come as an ally, as a partner, and as a friend. And you come as a person for whom many Australians feel great personal warmth -- and I think that's been on display in this room tonight -- not just for the substance of your leadership abroad and at home, but for the style of modern leadership you display as well.


Julia Gillard's Address to a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress


Australians, not given to overstatement, see you leading a great nation amid all the passions of politics in a democracy. And we see in you a clear combination of vision and a very deep calm. And we admire your own unique journey in life and law, community and politics.

Australians who know your memoir Dreams from My Father can't help but help but experience the shock of the familiar as we read your remembrances of time past, of a life lived with roots in many places -- from Hawaii and Indonesia to Kansas and Kenya, from Boston to Chicago to Washington. We know that, in this respect, you embody the American Dream of opportunity.

But Australians also recognize, in your wider reflections on identity and place, the value of a world view that looks outwards rather than inwards; like ours, a state of mind that is inclusive rather than exclusive, that sees diversity not as a weakness but as a very great strength; like ours, an acceptance of responsibility in the world, of an obligation to all that goes with maturity as a people and as a nation. That is your story. That is our story. That is part of what our two people hold in common, part of our common cause for the common good.

Mr. President, we have been allies for 60 years, comrades in arms for decades before then, and friends for longer still. In what is a year of anniversaries, we share a long history. But we know it is a history defined -- more than by anything else -- by our shared, restless, forward questing; defined always, then and now, by the things we do together to honor our national pledges -- to be young and free, to be home to the brave.

Mr. President: You are very welcome.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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