Australia has a sincere desire to see the United States economy regain its momentum, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has told a forum of leaders from the two nations in Perth.
Addressing the gala dinner of the annual Australian-American Leadership Dialogue on Saturday night, Ms Gillard said Australia supported the continuing US presence in Asia as a cornerstone of regional stability. She said Australia and the US had worked together in the G20 group of nations to bring the global economy back from the brink during the Global Financial Crisis and the events of recent weeks showed the work was not yet done. “We have all felt the effects of the global recession and Australia now watches as the United States faces a great test. “We watch with a sincere desire to see your mighty country’s economy regain its momentum,” Ms Gillard told the audience, which included World Bank President Robert Zoellick and the US Assistant Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific, Kurt Campbell. “I do have faith in the ability of the United States to get its economic house in order even if, too often for comfort, it takes a crisis to force decisive action,” the prime minister said. American leadership will also be vital for the fiscal consolidation and economic re-balancing necessary to put world economic growth on a sustainable footing. Cornerstone of regional stability Ms Gillard said that in the decades to come, the US presence in Asia would remain the cornerstone of regional stability. “As an abiding partner with key interests in the Asia-Pacific, Australia is considering how we best contribute to sustaining US engagement and presence in the region.” Ms Gillard said Australia had worked beside the US to combat terrorism in the Asian region since the September 11 attacks in 2001 and it remained the largest non-NATO contributor in Afghanistan. “In our own region, Jemaah Islamiah has been dealt some crippling blows, whilst al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been hit hard. “In Afghanistan, transition is on track and we know that our engagement in Afghanistan does not end with transition. “We will see the mission through in Afghanistan,” the prime minister said. She said the Australian-US alliance was entering a new period as the globes strategic and economic weight shifted to the Asia-Pacific region. “For Australia, positioning ourselves for the Asia-Pacific century is the main game, our single biggest national security challenge. “Our future prosperity and security depends on maintaining the strategic stability in Asia, upholding its openness to trade and commerce, and maintaining its rules-based order.” Ms Gillard said she welcomed US President Barack Obama’s strong emphasis on engaging with Asia. “I believe the balance of US commitments which sees the US maintain its presence in Northeast Asia while enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean is the right one.” Ms Gillard said Australia and the US were working together on the US Global Force Posture Review and discussing proposals for more joint training and cooperation. “We are working to identify how we might position ourselves to respond in more timely and effective ways to a range of contingencies that may arise in our region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” Ms Gillard said the East Asia Summit, APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations were all crucial forums for ensuring ongoing economic growth, peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.