Well good evening and what a great week we’ve had this week. What a way to finish. What a way to finish this week. We have succeeded in achieving that which has been aspired to for many years, but has not been able to be realised. The reform of the way in which the federal government funds our schools.
We have brought to an end the inconsistencies and for the first time, Australians will know that their federal government funds their schools on a national, transparent, consistent basis and needs-based, so that the money goes where it is most needed and ins consistent across the country.
Everyone has talked about it. David Gonski set that out as the vision six years ago in his report. The Labor Party latched onto it and said they “gave a Gonski”. They then produced what his co-panellist Ken Boston described as “a corruption” of that vision.
We have delivered on that. We’ve delivered on that. We are saving money for the budget, reducing Labor’s waste, reducing their inconsistencies, spending more money than we anticipated or we planned for last year, but spending it where it is needed and delivering that consistency that Australian students deserve.
Now, the funding is settled. The next step is to deliver on the quality outcomes Australian children need. Because what we need to ensure – and General Petraeus and I were discussing this a little while before – we need to ensure that our children have the skills that will enable them to succeed in the 21st century. We need to get a bigger and better educational bang, in terms of outcomes, from the taxpayers buck.
That’s the second - that’s what Gonksi 2.0 is really about. So we’ve settled the funding. Fair, transparent, needs-based at long last. Now we’re going to focus, with Simon Birmingham, the Education Minister, leading the way as he has over this last year, getting this reform up, to succeed in getting the outcomes we need.
But you know, we talk about the outcomes we need. The most important outcome for any government is security.
It is the first duty of every government to keep the people safe. As Julie described, the bedrock of our safety in the world has been our alliance with the United States.
This is a time of great anniversaries and commemorations. 99 years ago, for the first time, Australian and American troops went into battle together, led by an Australian General, John Monash. The Battle of Hamel. 75 years ago, Australian and American naval forces fought together in the Battle of the Coral Sea. That turned the tide of war. They intercepted a Japanese invasion fleet.
Had their fleets, the Australian and American fleets, not succeeded in that battle, it would have certainly taken Port Moresby, isolated Australia, cut if off from its ally, preventing Australia being used as a base for the United States and her allies to recapture the territories that were taken by the Japanese in the 2nd World War.
Churchill described that time as the hinge of fate in his great history of the 2nd World War. Well he did, because that battle, then closely followed by the Battle of [inaudible], turned the tide of war in the Pacific. It decided, determined the success, the freedom, the reconquest of the Pacific by America and her allies and the liberation of the people that were being subjected to domination and conquest by the Japanese.
Now we honoured some of those old veterans in New York recently on the Intrepid. President Trump and I and so many of our friends and supporters, so many of us were there. But above all there were some of the old veterans. Old guys in the nineties, but they were young you know, they were teenagers when they turned the tide of war on those ships. Australians an Americans and we honoured them there on the Intrepid.
Tonight we have as our guest General David Petraeus. There would be very few, if any American leaders who better understand deep in their heart, in their experience, in their life, the nature of the Australian-American Alliance.
David Petraeus knows how deep it is. He has commanded Australian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as commander. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he knows, sitting there in that role, the vital importance of the deep and intimate intelligence collaboration between the Five Eyes nations; Australia, the United Sates, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. He understands how strong those ties are. The ties that surely bind and have bound us for so long, and keep us free, today and will forever.
He’ll talk about those in a little while and General, thank you so much for coming out to Sydney to talk to us tonight to share your experience and insights on these challenges the world faces.
But I want to say that the foundation, as I said, of our security is that American Alliance. But it goes much further than that. It is a heartfelt family tie.
John Howard after 9/11 invoked the ANSUS Treaty. When America was attacked, he said, so was Australia. He stood by the Americans at that time of shock, an attack on the World Trade Centre, and we have stood with the United States in the War against Terror ever since.
Our men and women are fighting, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq in Syria, in the air above Syria, right through that region and around the world, keeping us free of the threat of terrorism.
The Threat of Islamist terrorism is a growing and global threat. The key to success is deep collaboration and strong intelligence. I know the General will touch on that tonight.
But I want to conclude with one important observation about our Alliance with the United States. The rules-based order of which Julie has spoken, which basically means a world in which the strong cannot do whatever they want and the sovereignty of small nations is respected and the rule of law is respected. That is founded on the strength of the United Sates. It’s founded on the hard power of the United States.
But you know, fleets and armies are not enough. The foundation of the Pax Americana, the foundation of the peace and prosperity that we’ve seen in our region over the last forty or more years, the greatest economic progress in the history of the world, the foundation of that has been the values for which Australia and the United States have.
Values of the rule of law, democracy, freedom. Ensuring that we say and maintain “might is not right”. The law prevails. Freedom prevails. Those values, supported by the hard power of the United Sates and her allies, including Australia, around the world, including Australia, have kept us free. They’ve enabled the greatest economic growth the world has ever seen.
Maintaining that strength, maintaining those values, maintaining that commitment is fundamental to our future prosperity. To our future freedom.
General, you know, I know, that Australians are as committed to these values as you and the people of the United States are.
Together, common values, a shared destiny, we will always be free, standing together against those who seek to do us harm.
You are so welcome here tonight and we look forward to hearing from you.