(Australian Associated Press)
Joe Biden has pledged to maintain an unsurpassed partnership with Australia as the two nations strive for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The United States president marked the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty with a video message singing the alliance’s praises.
He said the enduring partnership had been about strengthening the fabric of peace.
“That partnership is as essential today as it ever has been in securing the safety and prosperity of both our countries,” Mr Biden said.
“On this anniversary, we reaffirm our commitment to our shared values, democratic norms, global security and the prosperity for the next 70 years and beyond.”
The president said Australians and Americans had built “unsurpassed partnership and an easy mateship”.
He noted ANZUS was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 terror attacks.
“Our Australian friends stood with us in that darkest hour just as our two nations stood shoulder to shoulder in every major conflict since World War One.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the two nations supported a world that favoured freedom.
“Our alliance and America’s deep engagement in our region is essential as we look to rebuild from the pandemic and shape a free and open Indo-Pacific that is stable, secure and prosperous,” he said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese used the anniversary to pledge the first major review of where Australia’s soldiers are stationed since 2012.
“With the US again engaged in a Global Force Posture Review, it is time for Australia too to have a closer look at our own posture to ensure that it fully meets the times,” he told parliament.
The force posture review would ensure the government is looking at long-term strategy as well as short-term needs with the Indo-Pacific a key focus.
It would also respond to the emergence of cyber security as a central challenge to Australia’s strategic positioning over the coming decade.
Mr Morrison said Australia was confronting the most challenging strategic environment for decades.
“Our alliance will stand resilient in the face of these challenges as we nurture and refresh our commitment to one another.”
China’s increasingly assertive stance in the region shapes as a critical for Australia and the US.
The prime minister said the alliance spanned security, defence, intelligence, new technology, boosting supply chains, supplying vaccines in the Pacific and tackling climate change.
Mr Albanese called for an immediate boost to climate change co-operation with the US.
Australia is increasingly isolated over climate action globally.
“While so much of the region’s immediate focus is the response to COVID, its more profound concern is climate change,” Mr Albanese said.
The prime minister, Defence Minister Peter Dutton and America’s charge d’affaires Michael Goldman laid a wreath in Canberra to mark the anniversary on Wednesday.
Coronavirus scuppered plans for the event to be marked with a face-to-face meeting between Mr Morrison and Mr Biden.
The prime minister is expected to speak with the president this week.