In delivering the Menzies Research Centre's John Howard Lecture for 2013 in Sydney today, the British Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, spoke of the importance of Australia-UK cooperation, in Asia and beyond, in this 'global century'.
Mr Hague was introduced by the Opposition Leader, Hon Tony Abbott MHR, who also spoke of the strong links between Australia and Britain. Mr Hague was thanked by the former Prime Minister, Hon John Howard OM AC, for whom the annual lecture is named.
The John Howard Lecture, initiated by the Menzies Research Centre in 2009, is a significant event on the Australian political and policy calendar, and is given by a speaker of international distinction on issues of importance to the prosperity and security of Australia.
In delivering the John Howard Lecture, Mr Hague said that the ties between Britain and Australia were stronger and more relevant than ever for three reasons - because of the continued strength of the UK and the European Union (despite current economic issues), because with the growing strength of Asia Britain was 'looking East', and because Britain is a global power in what is 'a global century as well as an Asian century'. Britain was significantly increasing its diplomatic presence around Asia.
In acknowledging the significant threats to international security, including the risk of the 'perfect storm' in the Middle East in 2013, Mr Hague spoke of the importance of increased cooperation between Australia and Britain, including in cyber-security capacity, deeper defence and security cooperation, the sharing of confidential diplomatic reports, and the sharing of embassy capacity in some countries.
In thanking Mr Hague, the former Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, spoke of the importance of the 'friendship with a contemporary face' between Australia and Britain, and spoke with admiration of the work both of Mr Hague and of Mr Abbott.
For the text of Mr Abbott's speech introducing Mr Hague, click here.
For the text of Mr Hague's John Howard Lecture, please click here.