United States of America

15 June 2020 - House of Representatives

Mr DICK (Oxley) (11:47): This morning I'm honoured to speak on the 80th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States. I do so in a bipartisan manner, in response to the motion moved by the member for Lindsay. I thank her for the opportunity to raise my voice in support of the Australia-US Alliance. As the world continues to unfold from the effects of coronavirus and with an economy that will take time to recover, Australia remains grateful for and committed to its strong alliance with the United States. There are strong formal structures of cooperation between Australia and the United States, spanning foreign policy, strategic defence and security, intelligence development, energy, environment, education, law, trade and investment. In today's remarks, I will highlight the wonderful opportunities between our two countries, especially in relation to my home state of Queensland.

We know that Australia and the United States established diplomatic relations on 8 January 1940, following the establishment of Australian and US diplomatic representations in March and July, respectively, in 1940. In today's motion, I also want to acknowledge the achievements of Mr Arthur Culverhouse Jr, who was appointed the United States Ambassador to Australia in February 2019, and place on record the great work he has done to achieve partnership between our two great countries in a short time. I am yet to have the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Culverhouse, but I look forward to doing so as restrictions are eased.

Over the last 12 months, Australia welcomed—before COVID-19—815,000 visitors, including tourists from the USA, to our great country and we are grateful for the economic benefit this has brought to Australia, particularly to the tourism sector in my home state of Queensland.

The United States is the largest foreign direct investor in Australia, making up 22 per cent of the FDI stock in Australia, with two-way investment reaching $1.6 trillion in 2017. The US was also Australia's third-largest trading partner in 2018-19, with $76.4 billion in two-way goods and services and trade, only after China and Japan. Alongside this, exports and imports have increased fivefold since 1985.

One of the areas that has exploded greatly has been the entertainment industry, which has seen a great deal of benefit from this strong relationship. A growing number of Australians in the entertainment industry are taking on starring and supporting roles on American movie and television screens, with—I'm proud to see—many winning great awards.

In my home state of Queensland, the Queensland government, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, has gone to enormous lengths to create thousands of jobs and boost the Queensland economy by attracting films from the USA to be filmed in Queensland—a little known secret, but it's paying huge dividends in my home state.

Established in 2015, the Queensland government's production attraction agency has brought over 4,800 employment opportunities for cast and crew and has lured some of the world's biggest blockbusters to Queensland, as part of what is now known as a billion dollar industry. Famous films include Thor; the upcoming Dora the Explorer and DC Comic's film Aquaman, which is the highest grossing Extended Universe film and surpassed $1 billion at the global box office. This film not only promoted world-class facilities in Australia but injected $144 million into the local economy and employed more than 1,700 local cast and crew.

This year the 80th anniversary is a great reminder to us about the shared commitment to promote and uphold democratic values, freedom and shared interest in economic growth, in particular to growing new economies. In 2018 Australia and the United States marked a centenary of mateship. We've just heard from the member for Canning about a friendship first formed in the trenches of World War I.

The strong relationship between America and Australia has been seen in countless efforts over the years. This year, on 23 January, three American firefighters died after a C-130 water tanker aircraft crashed while battling a blaze in southern New South Wales. Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Clive Hudson and flight engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jnr. risked their lives for the safety of Australians. These brave and selfless men risked and ultimately gave their lives while trying to protect others. This is the definition of mateship. That is the spirit which has joined our two countries together: the spirit which is selfless, brave and courageous and one that is willing to, ultimately, give up your life for your mate. This is the true definition of our alliance.