In a year when so much has changed, it is important to step back and search for silver linings. This is the spirit of the American Thanksgiving tradition, and it is with this noble practice in mind that the United States Studies Centre hosted a Thanksgiving webinar featuring US Ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. and Australian Ambassador to the United States Arthur Sinodinos in conversation with USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman.

What aspects of the US-Australia relationship can we appreciate more as a result of the trials of 2020? How have the dynamics changed? What should we focus on as we head into 2021?

President Donald J. Trump nominated Ambassador Arthur B. (A.B.) Culvahouse Jr. to be the United States Ambassador to Australia on November 6, 2018. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 2, 2019 by unanimous consent, he was formally sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on February 19, 2019 and presented his credentials to the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on March 13, 2019. Ambassador Culvahouse serves as the President’s personal representative to the government and people of Australia. He leads the U.S. Mission to Australia, which is comprised of the embassy in Canberra and three consulates in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. Ambassador Culvahouse has a long and distinguished career. He is the former Chair of O’Melveny & Myers, an international law firm he was associated with for more than four decades. He began his career as Chief Legislative Assistant to United States Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr. and later served as White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan. In 1989, President Reagan awarded Ambassador Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens’ Medal, an award to “recognize citizens who performed exemplary deeds of service for the country or their fellow citizens.” In December 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney awarded Ambassador Culvahouse the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his work on the Federal Advisory Committee on Nuclear Failsafe and Risk Reduction. Both President Trump and the late-Senator John McCain tapped Ambassador Culvahouse to head the search to select their running mates. Ambassador Culvahouse was raised in Ten Mile, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee and the New York University School of Law. He is the proud father of three accomplished daughters.

The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO is Australia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, taking up his posting in Washington in February 2020. Ambassador Sinodinos was previously Australia’s Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and was a Senator for New South Wales in the Australian Parliament from 2011 to 2019. During his parliamentary career, he also held other key roles in and outside Cabinet, including Cabinet Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. Over a career spanning four decades, Ambassador Sinodinos has dedicated his professional life to the advancement of Australia and its people. On the election of the Hon. John Howard AC as Prime Minister of Australia in 1996, Ambassador Sinodinos was appointed the Prime Minister’s Senior Economic Adviser and in 1997, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, a position he held for nine years. Between 1987-1989 and 1995-1996 Ambassador Sinodinos also served as Senior Economic Adviser to Mr Howard while in opposition. He started his Australian Public Service career in 1979, rising to the Senior Executive Service in the Department of the Treasury. In 2006, Ambassador Sinodinos left government to work with Goldman Sachs JBWere, followed by the National Australia Bank and various corporate appointments. In 2008, Ambassador Sinodinos was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service to politics through the executive function of government, to the development of economic policy and reform, and to the Greek community. In 2019, he was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Australia & New Zealand School of Government in recognition of his promotion of public sector leadership. Ambassador Sinodinos is accompanied on posting by his wife Elizabeth, and their three children.