100 Years and Beyond: US-Australia Ties Celebrated at the National Governors Association

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by Sarah Wang
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks at the 2018 Winter Meeting of the National Governors Association. Image: National Governors Association Instagram.

On February 23, 2018, the National Governors Association (NGA) kicked off its 2018 Winter Meeting with a celebration of “100 Years of Mateship” between the United States and Australia. Since World War I, the United States and Australia have enjoyed a robust alliance and that goodwill was evident during the meeting.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the keynote address during the first full day of NGA meetings on February 24th. In addition to highlighting the integral security partnership between the two allies, Prime Minister Turnbull emphasized the importance of the US-Australia bilateral trade relationship. Over 300,000 American jobs are supported by US exports to Australia and over 10,000 Australian companies trade with or are investing in the United States. Looking to the future, he suggested that investment within the Asia Pacific, particularly in infrastructure in South and Southeast Asia, represents yet another avenue for cooperation between the United States and Australia. 

Optimism about the future of US-Australia relations was also felt by the US governors and Australian ministers attending the discussion. Throughout the discussion they highlighted the importance of bilateral investment, sister cities, and historical anecdotes. It was a point of pride that Australia’s Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) in Canberra was the first to broadcast the TV images of American astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon.

To build upon this strong foundation, NGA Chair Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Australian Capital Territory Minister Andrew Barr signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of the NGA and Council for the Australian Federation (CAF). Under this MOU, NGA and CAF plan to identify additional areas of cooperation between the United States and Australia, from the environment to law enforcement and education. Governor Sandoval also sought to increase Nevada-Australia ties by signing a sister state agreement with Queensland.

In January, the US-Australia relationship took center stage at the G’Day USA Indo-Pacific Dialogue. During her keynote remarks, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop highlighted research by the East-West Center’s Australia Matters for America/America Matters for Australia project.

Sarah Wang is a Project Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington.