Remarks by Vice President Harris and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of the Commonwealth of Australia Before Bilateral Meeting
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, good morning, Mr. Prime Minister. It is good to be with you. As you know, the United States values and is very fond of our relationship with Australia.
And I cannot thank you enough for your leadership on many levels. It was noted by all of us when you, right after being sworn in and inaugurated — I think immediately thereafter, probably, you know, with no time to celebrate — traveled to Tokyo to meet with the Quad, which we value as a very important partnership to address some of the most pressing issues facing the world. And so, we thank you for your leadership.
You have been particularly — I say with full complement — ambitious — I say that with admiration — with your climate goals.
And as you know, President Biden and I and our country just recently passed significant legislation — actually historic — dedicating $370 billion to what the United States can do to address the climate crisis.
That coupled with and combined with your leadership and the foot forward that you have taken, in terms of legislation and also just with your leadership as an individual on this issue — we believe the combination of the two at this moment will accelerate the work our two nations can do that will be to the benefit of the people of our respective nations and to the benefit of the people around the world.
So I look forward to our conversation today. And, in particular, it is significant — under sad circumstances, the passing of the Prime Minister Abe — former Prime Minister Abe — but it is significant that we are here together in Tokyo, in that we also share a common goal and bond as it relates to our dedication to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and the work that we will continue to do to ensure that we are guided by what we are joined in, in terms of international rules and norms around the importance of peace, security, and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific.
So, I look forward to our conversation. And it is good to see you.
PRIME MINISTER ALBANESE: Thank you very much, Madam Vice President. It is very good to meet with you and your delegation in these unfortunate circumstances. Of course, Shinzo Abe played a critical role in advancing the idea and the reality which we seek to achieve of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. And the Quad and its creation, he was central to that occurring.
So I brought with me three former prime ministers here as a sign of respect and of the significance between the relationship between Australia and Japan.
But, of course, the relationship between Australia and the United States has been extraordinarily significant. And I’m proud that my party — I think we can trace the alliance back to 1941, under Prime Minister John Curtin, when Australia turned to the United States. And since then, the relationship has been so important.
And I think it is significant that you and I are here in Japan as well and that Prime Minister Modi will also be attending the memorial service today, because the Quad leaders meeting is so important for us.
That’s why I was very pleased to meet with President Biden. He was somewhat surprised that under our system we could have an election on Saturday and I could arrive in Tokyo on Monday as the new Prime Minister. I assure you, some Australian citizens were surprised at the speed of that as well. (Laughter.) But it showed how important it was, and it meant that my government was able to very much get on the front foot very early and to develop those relationships on a personal basis that are so important.
And going forward, can I congratulate you on the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act? Absolutely critical that the world act.
We were also successful in passing our legislation for the significant increase in our nationally determined contribution for the UNFCCC. And we are also progressing a range of legislation through the parliament, including making electric vehicles cheaper, including our national reconstruction fund that we’re creating to drive private-sector investment as well to transform industries, but also to create new industries as well. So that is absolutely critical.
And the other critical issue, of course, is peace and security in our region. We live in uncertain times. There is strategic competition. It’s something we’re very conscious of in the Pacific.
And I say that your address to the Pacific Island Forum was very well received there in Suva. It was a very significant address, and we welcome very much the United States opening new offices in the region in order to increase that presence.
And it is — it is critical that we continue to engage and cooperate and work together on these issues. And I very much look forward to our discussion today.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you.