The Australian diggers fought 100 years ago, near the place of your birth and Brigitte’s, Amiens, to defend France’s liberty. My Grandfather was among them and I remember as a little boy his stories of the trenches, those grim times when he and thousands of other Australians fought and so many died to keep France free. 100 years ago.
That sacrifice is remembered and it’s honoured by the people of France as it is by the people of Australia. It is a great piece of our history.
Our destinies are interlinked and now a century on the brave men and women of our defence forces are serving together again in freedom’s cause to defend our nations from the threat of terrorism both in the Middle East and at home.
And the cooperation we have as you described Mr President in terms of intelligence becomes closer and closer all the time.
So it is a very tight bond and it is recognized that the Future Submarine Project, the project office of which I’ll be opening tomorrow in Cherbourg represents the latest development in this remarkable story of partnership.
This is the largest and most ambitious military project in Australia’s history and it is a matter of great moment, historical moment that 100 years on from those shared sacrifices from that alliance, from that courage, from that dedication, from those days when men from Australia came to the other end of the world to fight for freedom - their, we are their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, are working together to secure our freedom not just for today but for many, many years to come.
The Future Submarine Project is a generational, a multi-generational project. It is a national enterprise. And it is one where we working together, our two nations side-by-side as our forebears did so long ago.
Mr President, we spoke about the G20 and of course, only a few hours ago we were finalising with other leaders the communique and ensuring that we were able to produce a document that had the endorsement of all of the nations and leaders around the table. And we worked closely together with other leaders. It was a very productive discussion. And the values that you described are ones that are held dear by Australians – a commitment to the rules based international order, a commitment to free trade and open markets, a commitment to those values that have enabled us to deliver for our part in Australia 26 years of continuous economic growth.
We talked in Hamburg and resolved agreement on the battle against terrorism. We, as the nations of the G20 for the first time reached agreement with a clear vision on how we must tackle the spread of terrorism across the internet. How this extraordinary piece of infrastructure, the most remarkable ever devised in terms of its transformation of the lives of billions of people, how we can ensure that it is not an ungoverned space and that the rule of law will prevail online just as it must and does offline.
I want to thank you too for the commitment to our strategic partnership. We continue to enhance that cooperation. You spoke of the French firms that are doing business in Australia and of course, many Australian companies are doing business in France and our respective ambassadors are doing an outstanding job in advancing the continued cooperation between France and Australia.
I want to thank you too, Mr President, for the support that you have given and France has given to advancing Australia’s negotiations to have a free trade agreement with the European Union.
We met with Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker today and our commitment and theirs, I believe, is to do everything we can to ensure that we can get that free trade agreement negotiated over the next 18 months. We would like to get it agreed by 2019. That is a realistic but ambitious objective.
I want to finally say, Mr President, the discussions that we’ve had, both in Hamburg and on the way from Hamburg here to Paris, have indicated, demonstrated how what a remarkable intellect you bring to the leadership of France at this time. You are the youngest President in the history of the Republic but you bring with that, Sir, an intellect and an experience and a vision and an ability to dream far beyond the challenges of today, the daily challenges you mentioned at the end of your address.
Congratulations Mr President on your election.
We look forward to working with you for many years to come.
We have shared values, shared challenges and we’ll tackle them together with the same commitment, the same courage that our grandparents and great-grandparents did all those years ago when France’s liberty was at stake and Australians and Frenchmen and women stood side-by-side to keep this Republic free.
Thank you Mr President for your generous hospitality.