Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister J. Malcolm Fraser of Australia

June 30, 1981

The President. Prime Minister Fraser, the American people welcome you to our country with a deep and a heartfelt warmth reserved for only the best of friends. Nancy and I are pleased to be able to welcome you and Mrs. Fraser as representatives of a country with whom we are proud to be allied and the American people are grateful to have as friends.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "We are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world. And the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend-they keep us worthy of ourselves." The people of Australia are honest and loyal friends, independent of mind and will, who bring strength of character and courage to the international community. America's proud to have such an ally in a world where freedom and democracy are constantly challenged.

Australians have fought side by side with Americans in every major war in this century. They've opened their hearts and homes to us when we were away from home, and they have stood with us in good times and bad. And America is grateful to have such steadfast friends.

You, Mr. Prime Minister, are a world leader who has made Australia a force for peace. Under your government Australia has done much to bring independence and economic growth to developing countries as close to you as Southeast Asia and as far away as Africa. And there you played the key role in Commonwealth consultations leading to the independence of Zimbabwe. Together with New Zealand, Australia and America have shared a bond of the tripart ANZUS alliance, for 30 years working together to maintain peace and security in the East Asian and Pacific regions.

As Sir Robert Menzies said, "We work for the same kind of free world. We see the world from similar perspectives, though no two countries could be on more opposite ends of the globe. We share values shaped on the new world frontier passed on to us as our heritage. We live in freedom and will accept no other life. We govern ourselves in democracy and will not tolerate anything less. We cherish liberty and hold it safe, providing hope for the rest of the world. We were born in the same era, sprang from the same stock, and live for the same ideals. Australia and America share an affinity that reaches to our souls."

You have said, Mr. Prime Minister, that the liberty we enjoy has no guarantee. And most importantly, liberty requires an understanding by ordinary people of what is at stake. The survival of the whole way of life depends on their commitment.

I was particularly impressed, deeply so, when, Mr. Prime Minister, I heard your powerful declaration in your speech before the B'nai B'rith here in Washington last September. You reminded us that a people without an objective are a people lost. A people without faith are a people destroyed. A people without conviction will not survive. It is liberty which provides the objective, liberty which allows faith, liberty which sustains conviction. But liberty is not an inevitable state, and there is no law which guarantees that once achieved it will survive. Its preservation requires skill, determination, and strength.

Mr. Prime Minister, the Australian example is an inspiration for free people everywhere. You may be assured that America will remain vigilant, will keep herself strong, and will always be a dependable partner in the quest for stability, freedom, and peace. Australia is indeed a friend who keeps us worthy of ourselves.

Prime Minister Fraser, I look forward to our meetings today as an opportunity to enhance our cooperation with one of our closest allies, but it will also be a pleasure to get to know the Frasers—get to know them better, strengthening the personal friendship between our two lands.

So, on behalf of all Americans, I welcome you to the United States.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, for my wife and myself, the Australian party who are with me, thank you very much indeed for your warm and generous welcome. I'm looking forward, indeed, to the discussions that we shall be having.

Australia and the United States, as you've pointed out, Mr. President, share a commitment to the values of freedom and of democracy. And we know that these values are not mere words; they stand for our way of life, for the attitudes we have towards people and the kind of opportunities we want for our children.

We share a faith in the enterprise and judgment of free men and women. Both our countries were built by immigrants from across the seas, pursuing dreams of liberty and of independence. The dream of freedom can have the same powerful good in the world today as it had at the foundation of this great Republic. And the world certainly needs strong and confident voices speaking for freedom.

You have come, Mr. President, to your great office at the end of what has been, in many ways, a decade of adversity. You embody through your eloquence and courage the determination to overcome that adversity. In your Inaugural Address you urged America to begin an era of renewal. The energy and ingenuity of the American people, their capacity to rise to a challenge give me confidence that they will respond, are responding, to your call. Indeed the clear evidence that they're doing so already must be encouraging to all of us.

The future of the course of freedom around the world depends so greatly on the leadership of the United States. There are so many things that will not be done unless the United States is prepared to do them. There is so much that only the world's greatest democracy can do. But we're well aware that powerful as you are, other countries also have a role and a duty. All the democracies need that confidence in themselves, that sense of larger purpose, that willingness to play a part which can create the will to work together and to prevail.

There are obvious limits, Mr. President, to what a nation of 14 million people can do. But, Mr. President, Australians are a people given to forming our own views, and it's this spirit of independence that makes us determined to be active in improving the condition of mankind and to contribute effectively to the cause of peace and of freedom.

The relationships between Americans and Australians have always been warm and spontaneous, and the alliance between our countries reflects that friendship. But it does, I suggest, more than that. It is built on the bedrock of mutual interests. As countries whose people fought and died in two World Wars, we share an abiding commitment to world peace. As countries bordering the same ocean, we share a central concern for stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. And as two of the world's democracies, we share a concern for liberty and the open society.

Mr. President, it used to be said of one great democratic statesman, that he was at his most effective and formidable on the rebound. I trust that far before the end of your Presidency as Western economies recover, as Western defenses strengthen, as Western will is remobilized, we will have demonstrated that the same is true of democracy itself.

We in Australia, along with the rest of the civilized world, admired greatly the courage and composure that you showed, Mr. President, throughout the ordeal that followed the attempt on your life some weeks ago. And you have shown by personal demonstration that given old-fashioned strength of character, it is possible to dominate events, rather than to surrender to those events. In doing so, you transformed an ugly and potentially tragic event into one from which decent men and women could draw confidence and strength.

I thank you again, very much, Mr. President, for your welcome to Tammy and to myself and to the Australian party today. I'm looking forward very much to getting to know you and Mrs. Reagan and to having our discussions.

Note: The President spoke at 10:11 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Prime Minister was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office. Also present at that meeting were Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Anthony A. Street, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Richard V. Allen, and Sir Geoffrey Yeend, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The President and the Prime Minister and their delegations then met in the Cabinet Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister J. Malcolm Fraser of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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