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Obama Down Under

  • November 16th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

obama-visit-161111.jpgPresident Barrack Obama is in Australia to strengthen ties with a close ally of the United States.


The President began his visit at Canberra 16.11.11 with an official welcome, and 21-gun salute, and after addressing the Australian Parliament was set to fly on to Darwin.

The visit is short – 27 hours – but will make up for two previous ones that were cancelled, once when he had to remain in  Washington to see through important legislation in the Congress, and once because of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Days before Barrack Obama had been hosting the APEC summit (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) in Honolulu, to all appearances getting on well there with the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

“She is a person who is down to earth, easy to talk to; she says it like it is, straight-up”, he told journalists in Canberra.

Discussion ranged over climarte change and the world economy, with the focuis this time on America’s program for reinforcing its regional stance, and Australioa’s part in that.

“I am making clear that the United States is stepping up its entrie commitment to the Asia Pacific”, he said.


Main plans are for greater use of an Australian base in the Northern Territory by the United States Marines, with additional joint exercises and keeping of US equipment on station in  Australia.

In that context the visit is being billed as a 50th anniversary call for the ANZUS Treaty, signed in September 1951 at San Francisco, the formal military alliance under which the two countries hold annual consultations at Ministerial and officials level, conduct joint amphibious operations, exchange officers, and observe a standardisation of equipment and field practices.

Joint defence facilities in Australia include satellite stations capable of use for early warning, intelligence gathering, precision navigation of ships, and guidance of long-range missiles -  in the past the subject of protests, that the bases, with very limited Australian control, are an over-commitment.

ANZUS took a blow in the 1980s when New Zealand and the United States fell out over the berthing of ships carrying nuclear weapons in NZ harbours. No longer a tri-partite bond; it continues as the formal defence nexus between Australia and New Zealand on one hand, and Australia and the United States on the other.

A popular interpretation  of it in Australia, is that should the Americans come under invasion, they can talke comfort that bronzed Anzacs will automatically step in to their rescue.

curtin-john-pm.jpgResuce was the actual code-word late in 1941 when the then Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin (picture), publicly called on the United States to encompass Australia in its defence of the Pacific – after the attack on Pearl harbour and the fall of Singapore.

Australian defence to that time was bound up with the British Empire; the ties with the United States once founded, did continue.

See full text of ANZUS,

President Obama was asked about proposals for carbon trading, on the Australian and Euriopean union models. Constrained by his legislature on energy matters he said that was an option feely open to the parties doing it.

Indicative of the character of the fulsome welcome being received, for his greater security and protection in Australia the President has been provided with a life insurance policy against attack by crocodiles in Northern Australia.


ANZUS, Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, SF, 1.9.51; entry into force generally 29.4.52. Australian treaty series 1952 No. 2; retrievable from, M. Farnsworth editor, Melbourne, “The ANZUS Treaty …”., (16.11.11).

Boston Globe (AP), Boston, “Obama opens long-delayed visit to Australia”, 16.11.11., (16.11.11).