Former prime ministers Julia Gillard and John Howard will be guests of the United States Studies Centre (USSC) on 1 September 2021, in a special virtual event coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the signing of ANZUS, the cornerstone of Australia's Alliance with the United States.
The two prime ministers, who served during the 50th and 60th anniversaries of signing the ANZUS treaty, will reflect on the evolution of the Alliance under their leadership, as well as the contemporary significance of the Alliance in advancing Australia's interests.
USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman says, ‘To host not just one, but two former prime ministers is a great honour for the Centre and a testament to the significance of this milestone. This commemoration comes at a time where Australia's region — the Indo Pacific — is the arena of profound geostrategic change; on its 70th anniversary, Australia's Alliance with the United States is our single most important strategic asset in confronting the challenges of today.'
Both prime ministers also contributed reflections to the upcoming United States Studies Centre book, Alliance at 70.
In his account contained in Alliance at 70, Howard recounted his experience being in Washington DC when the attacks occurred – 20 years ago next month – and the steps he took in invoking the ANZUS Treaty for the first time:
‘In answer to a specific question about military support, I replied, “Well we haven’t been asked to. What I’m saying, Alison, is that we would provide support within our capability." During the news conference I characterised my view of the circumstances with these words, "… we have to accept that this is an occasion where we should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans because this is not just an assault on America, it’s an assault on the way of life that we hold dear in common.”’
The 60th anniversary occurred in the midst of the US pivot towards the Indo-Pacific. Gillard was with President Obama and recalled:
‘[I]n reflecting on ANZUS while facing the foreign policy and national security challenges that come before a prime minister, I could appreciate the weight of the decision made by one of my predecessors, John Howard, to invoke the ANZUS Treaty three days after the attacks on 9/11 against the United States. Prime Minister Howard was right. Under our ANZUS commitments, we went to war in Afghanistan to support our ally the United States, which had been attacked on its own soil.’
The Alliance at 70 with these distinguished guests will be:
SYDNEY | Wednesday, 1 September 2021 | 5.00-6.30pm AEST
PERTH | Wednesday, 1 September 2021 | 3.00-4.30pm AWST