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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by Vice President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Turnbull Before a Meeting


Commonwealth Government Office

Sydney, Australia

1:55 P.M. (Local)

PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL:  Thank you, so much for making this visit.  And we know it’s a very special heartfelt visit for you.  You've come with your granddaughters.  And you've come sharing your commitment to your son Beau whose loss the world grieved with you.  You have shared throughout your career your passions, your love for America, your love for the values that America stands for and Australia stands for -- values of freedom and the rule of law.  You've spoken up for those over so many years in the Congress and as Vice President.  And now you're here in Australia sharing that passion, and Australians are reacting with warmth and enthusiasm to your visit.

You're strengthening the strongest bond -- the bonds between our two countries are as strong as any can be.  But your visit here is so welcome, so powerful because it adds that human element.  After all of the alliances, all of the history is made up of people, individuals, soldiers fighting in the First World War side by side, working together, fighting in every major conflict for a hundred years side by side, committed to the same values of freedom, the same commitment, a civic active citizenship.  The values that our countries share, we define our national identity -- not by reference to race or religion or ethnic background, but by reference to shared political values of freedom and democracy and the rule of law.

And while there are many differences between Australia and the United States in its history, that we have in common -- that commitment which we have stood for for a hundred years and will stand for for centuries to come in the future.  It is a great partnership.  We are honored by your presence.  We are warmed by your passion and your generosity and your enthusiasm.

And Julie and I and all of my colleagues here are delighted to be sitting down to talk about many matters of great moment in the world today, many challenges.  But above all, we're so pleased to see you here, Mr. Vice President.  Welcome to Australia.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, thank you.  And congratulations.  Congratulations on your win.  Congratulations on your Cabinet.  And it’s an honor to be here.

The warmth and hospitality that's been extended to me in the few days I’ve been here has been overwhelming.  But you know you outlined what basic Australian values are, well, that's what makes this relationship so special. 

Unlike any other country in the world, we come from the same stock.  You're an immigrant nation.  And the thing I said yesterday to a group of your military is that the thing that's so similar from my perspective is the absolute sort of stamped in the DNA of every Australian and every American I know is this notion for they abhor the abuse of power.  Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.  And you've sort of taken the words out of my mouth.  I’ve been making a speech for years about you cannot identify an American based on race, ethnicity, origin.  You literally cannot do it.  It’s simply not possible.


The only way you can do it is we have shared values as set out in our Constitution.  We really believe like you all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We believe it.  We genuinely believe it.

And it’s clear, Mr. Prime Minister, you and all your predecessors and I suspect all your successors believe it.  It’s just about giving everyone an even go at it.  That's all.

And I’ll end by saying -- I’m repeating myself, I apologize to your Foreign Minister and your Ambassador.  They've heard me say it before.  But it’s a special moment for me to come to Australia because it sort of -- it ties together three generations of my family.  My grandfather Ambrose Finnegan from the coal region of Scranton, Pennsylvania, had four sons; two of whom fought in the Pacific.  One who was lost in New Guinea, who was Army Air Corps.  His aircraft went down on a reconnaissance mission.  They never found the body.  And another went home with malaria.  But they always talked the Aussies.  Not a joke.

My grandfather would actually when he talked about it sort of straighten up when he’d mention it.  And you may think I’m kidding.  As your Ambassador can tell you, no one ever doubts I mean what I say.  The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.  (Laughter.)

But really and truly.  And then I could hear my son Beau, who was a decorated war veteran in Iraq, talk about the Aussies that he stood next to -- whether it was in Camp Liberty or out on the road, and about how the sense that, Dad, they always have your back.  That was the phrase -- always have your back.  We don't say that about everybody.  We don't say that about everybody. 

And so there is something that is unique in this relationship, and I think it has to do with a core sense of everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.  Everybody.

My mother used to have an expression.  She’d look at me and say, Joey, never bend, never bow.  I’ve not met an Aussie who’s ever bent.  (Laughter.)  So you're making me feel at home.  It’s been a great, great opportunity.  And I had not intended on being able to take my granddaughters or granddaughter.  I have on soon-to-be-18 in September.  She tells everybody she’s -- four years ago, she’s a great kid.  And she really is interested in -- as long as she’s been alive her grandfather has been a U.S. senator or Vice President.  And so she’s really interested and very informed.  And she said to me four years ago when she was 14 years, she said, you know, Pop -- she calls me Pop -- going to Australia is on my bucket list.  (Laughter.)  Fourteen years old, bucket list.

So I said, honey, I’m going to Australia, you want to come?  She said, yes.  And then she said, is it okay if I bring -- my other granddaughter who is my deceased son, Beau’s, oldest child.  Is it okay if I bring Natalie with me?  And then my oldest granddaughter who is an honors graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in international relations and Chinese said, hey, Pop, can I go?  (Laughter.)  So you got three of my four here.  And it’s been wonderful.  They’ve been shown great hospitality, and they have absolutely loved everything they’ve seen so far.  So it’s a delight to be here.  I just have one request.  I don't think when our term is over the Ambassador is going to come home willingly.  (Laughter.)


2:02 P.M. (Local)