San Francisco, CA — 14 September 2011
Presentation of honorary Order of Australia to Former US Secretary of State George Shultz
San Francisco, USA
Subject: Australia-US relations
Transcript, E&OE, proof only
14 September 2011
Thank you very much Ambassador Beazley. Let me make some remarks before I conclude with the formal words of the presentation of this honour. Sixty years ago we gathered in San Francisco — our forbearers — to frame and to sign the alliance between our two great democracies. I think it's fair to say that sixty years later this alliance is doing pretty darn well. It is strong, it is robust, and it has a future with firm foundations. It rests on common values, it rests on common interests but also a common resolve to defend those values of freedom and democracy as well. From time to time, in the history of this great alliance, we believe it's important to honour the contributions of individuals who have been there in times of great challenge to the world community. And Secretary Shultz, we regard you as one such contributor.
When we look at your career, it is an astounding career. We see you as a graduate, I believe, from Princeton in 1942. Economics graduate but we won't hold that against you. We then have you donning the uniform of the United States and serving as a United States Marine in the Pacific during the Pacific War, from '42 to '45 — a war which was of material relevance to the Commonwealth of Australia.
I often wondered when I was a marine out in the Pacific — can't I get leave and go to Australia.
Now on behalf of the government, I extend such an invitation — and I mean it. And then, in the period since then, having reviewed your career — multiple cabinet appointments across the entire spectrum of public policy. The one of course which we attach great value to is your period as Secretary of State, in the last decade of the Cold War. These were extraordinary times as we witnessed the implosion and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, requiring extraordinary diplomacy in that period leading up to '89 and beyond.
In Asia and the Pacific we honour in particular your work with us — the early openings to China by the United States, furthermore the contributions to regional architecture with the establishment of APEC and your support for Australia's initiative in that regard. And also helping our alliance weather some difficult storms when a certain country to our southeast called New Zealand decided, for the time being, to exit that alliance. And we appreciate very much the quality of statesmanship which you demonstrated during that period.
So Secretary Shultz we regard you in Australia as a great friend. We regard you in the history of this alliance as an enormous contributor. Personally I'm also a strong supporter of your contribution recently as one of the 'four-horsemen' on the whole question of nuclear non-proliferation disarmament. The work that you have done with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry and Sam Nunn is outstanding. We in Australia sought to reinforce that work through the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Disarmament headed by Gareth Evans and Madame Kawaguchi from Japan and it now forms a core part of the work we do in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Disarmament Initiative chaired by ourselves and my Japanese counterpart. But this owes itself in large measure to your contribution and that of your colleagues to bringing that vision of a nuclear weapons free world to the centre of global attention.
Finally, could I say how much I admire your observations on life, and I read this just before I came here and I thought it was rather good because it is evidence once again of the ties that bind our two great democracies. This is George Shultz on the great challenge of managing in government. He said: "I learned in business that you had to be very careful when you told somebody who's working for you to do something because the chances were that they would do it. In government you never have to worry about that." This is common to our mutual experiences of our two great systems of public administration.
And so it is therefore a great honour for me to be asked by her Excellency the Governor General to present you with this honorary officer in the Order of Australia.
I am required to say these words and they are as follows:
On behalf of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia and at her request, it is now my privilege and pleasure to present George Pratt Shultz with the Insignia of the Order of Australia.
Thank you very much Mr Secretary, to get this honour with the Defence Minister here and particularly with my friend Kim who was the Defence Minister, I think, when I was Secretary of State and we worked very closely together. And to have here Hillary and Leon, two of my great friends who are doing such a fantastic job for the United States of America.
Australia has always been a great country for me and for our country because it's a reliable ally. A reliable ally tells you what they think and we've had candid discussions. We always come out saying okay, here's the way we go. And to a very considerable extent in your part of the world, we look to you for leadership and we would follow your lead. We'd discuss it and we just had a very productive time all along. But to finish, when I was in office I could see how close it was. My close friend Bob Hawke was your prime minister at the time and I remember when he got elected from the Labor Party, people came around to me, Republicans, said listen, what are we going to do. I said relax, I know this guy. When he was head of the labour movement, I was in Bechtel, we had a lot of dealings with each other, this is good guy, we're going to get along just fine. And then Kim came and others and it was a wonderful relationship. So Australia is a great place.
I always have felt that Perth is the most lovely small city.
He was very well briefed.
One time when I was in office and I was at a meeting in Malaysia and it ended on a Friday, and the next Monday I was to meet with Bob Hawke in Canberra and he said where are we going to go? I said we're going to Perth for the weekend. So I got there and there are signs all over the place about the America's Cup and I had to go and see them. And all the signs said: "What's the difference between the America's Cup and a boomerang? Answer: the boomerang comes back." (Laughter) Good Australian humour. So anyway to get an honour from Australia is really deep and meaningful for me because I have such a high regard for your country and the contributions you have made and continue to make to our civilization and way of life. Thank you.
Thank you Mr Secretary Shultz.
Original document from www.foreignminister.gov.au.
Last update: Friday, 16 September 2011 GMT+1000