President Obama Addresses the University of Queensland

President Obama Addresses the University of Queensland


(applause) The President:
Thank you so much! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, everybody. (applause) Everybody, please
have a seat. Hello, Brisbane! It’s good to be
back in Australia. I love Australia
— I really do. The only problem with
Australia is every time I come here I’ve got to
sit in conference rooms and talk to politicians
instead of go to the beach. (laughter) To Chancellor Story,
Professor Høj, faculty and staff,
distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
and most of all, the students of the
University of Queensland — it is great
to be here at UQ. I know that we are
joined by students from universities
across this city, and some high school
students, as well. And so I want to thank
all of the young people especially for
welcoming me here today. On my last visit to this
magnificent country three years ago, I
had the privilege to meet some of the
First Australians; we’re joined by
some today. So I want to begin
by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of
this land and by paying my respects to your elders,
past and present. This university is recognized
as one of the world’s great institutions of
science and teaching. Your research led to the
vaccine that protects women and girls
around the world from cervical cancer. Your innovations have
transformed how we treat disease and how we
unlock new discoveries. Your studies have
warned the world about the urgent threat
of climate change. In fact, last year
I even tweeted one of your studies to
my 31 million followers on Twitter. (laughter) Just bragging
a little bit. (applause) I don’t think that’s quite
as much as Lady Gaga, but it’s still
pretty good. (laughter) That’s still not bad. I thank Prime Minister Abbott
and the people of Brisbane and Queensland for hosting
us at the G-20 Summit. This city, this
part of Australia, is just stunning —
“beautiful one day, and then perfect
the next.” (laughter) That’s what I
understand. (applause) We travel a lot
around the world. My staff was very
excited for “Bris Vegas.” (laughter) When I arrived they advised
I needed some XXXX. (laughter) You have some? (laughter) Part of the reason I
have fond memories of Australia is I spent
some time here as a boy when I was traveling between
Hawaii and Indonesia, where I lived for
several years. And when I returned three
years ago as President, I had the same feelings
that I remembered as a child — the warmth of
the people of Australia, the sense of humor. I learned to speak
a little “strine.” (laughter) I’m tempted to
“give it a burl.” That’s about as far as
I can go actually. But I do want to take this opportunity to express once again the gratitude
of the American people for the extraordinary
alliance with Australia. I tell my friends and family
and people that I meet that there is an incredible
commonality between Australia and the
United States. And whether that’s because
so many of us traveled here as immigrants — some
voluntary and some not; whether it’s because of wide open spaces and the sense of a frontier culture —
there’s a bond between our two countries. And Australia really is everything that you would want in a friend and in an ally. We’re cut from the same
cloth — immigrants from an old world who built
a new nation. We’re inspired by the same ideals of equality and opportunity — the
belief everybody deserves a fair go, a fair shot. And we share that same spirit — that confidence and optimism — that the future is ours to make; that we don’t have to carry
with us all the baggage from the past, that we can leave this world a better, safer, more just place for
future generations. And that’s what brings
me here today — the future that we
can build together, here in the Asia
Pacific region. Now, this week, I’ve traveled
more than 15,000 miles — from America to China
to Burma to Australia. I have no idea what time
it is right now. (laughter) I’m completely
upside down. But despite that distance,
we know that our world is getting smaller. One of Australia’s great
writers spoke of this — a son of Brisbane and
a graduate of this university, David Malouf. And he said, “In that
shrinking of distance that is characteristic of
our contemporary world, even the Pacific,
largest of oceans, has become a lake.” Even the Pacific
has become a lake. And you see it here
on this campus, where you welcome students
from all across Asia and around the world, including a number of Americans. You go on exchanges, and
we’re proud to welcome so many of you to
the United States. You walk the streets of
this city and you hear Chinese, Vietnamese,
Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, Hindi. And in many neighborhoods
more than half the people you meet were born
somewhere else. This is a global city
in a globalized world. And I often tell young
people in America that, even with today’s
challenges, this is the best time
in history to be alive. Never in the history of
humanity have people lived longer, are they more
likely to be healthy, more likely to be
enjoying basic security. The world is actually
much less violent today. You wouldn’t know it from
watching television that it once was. And that’s true here in
the Asia Pacific as well. Countries once
ravaged by war, like South
Korea and Japan, are among the world’s
most advanced economies. From the Philippines
to Indonesia, dictatorships have given
way to genuine democracies. In China and
across the region, hundreds of millions of
people have been lifted from poverty in the
span of one generation, joining a global
middle class. Empowered by technology,
you — the young people in particular of this region
— are connecting and collaborating across
borders and cultures like never before as you seek
to build a new future. So the opportunities
today are limitless. And I don’t watch a lot
of Australian television, so — as you might imagine,
because I’m really far away. (laughter) So I don’t know whether
some of the same tendencies that we see in the
United States — a focus on conflict and
disasters and problem — dominate what’s fed to us
visually every single day. But when you look
at the facts, opportunities are limitless
for this generation. You’re living in an
extraordinary time. But what is also true, is
that alongside this dynamism, there are genuine dangers
that can undermine progress. And we can’t look
at those problems through rose-tinted glasses. North Korea’s nuclear
and missile programs — that’s a problem. Disputes over territory,
remote islands and rocky shoals that threaten
to spiral into confrontation. The failure to uphold
universal human rights, denying justice to citizens and denying countries
their full potential. Economic inequality
and extreme poverty that are a recipe
for instability. And energy demands
in growing cities that also hasten trends
towards a changing climate. Indeed, the same
technologies that empower citizens like you also
give oppressive regimes new tools to
stifle dissent. So the question
that we face is, which of these futures
will define the Asia Pacific in the century to come? Do we move towards further
integration, more justice, more peace? Or do we move towards
disorder and conflict? Those are our choices —
conflict or cooperation? Oppression or liberty? Here in Australia
three years ago, in your parliament,
I made it clear where the United States stands. We believe that nations
and peoples have the right to live in
security and peace; that an effective
security order for Asia must be based — not on spheres
of influence, or coercion, or intimidation where big
nations bully the small — but on alliances
of mutual security, international law and
international norms that are upheld, and the
peaceful resolution of disputes. We believe in open markets
and trade that is fair and free — a level playing
field where economies play by the same rules; where
the purpose of trade is not simply to extract
resources from the ground, but to build true
partnerships that raise capacity and living
standards in poor countries; where small business
owners and entrepreneurs and innovators have
the freedom to dream and create and flourish; and how well a country
does is based on how well they empower their
individual citizens. And we believe
in democracy — that the only real source of
legitimacy is the consent of the people; that every
individual is born equal with fundamental rights,
inalienable rights, and that it is the
responsibility of governments to
uphold these rights. This is what we stand for. That is our vision — the future America is working
toward in the Asia Pacific, with allies and friends. Now as a Pacific power,
the United States has invested our
blood and treasure to advance this vision. We don’t just
talk about it; we invest in this vision. Generations of Americans
have served and died in the Asia Pacific so that
the people of the region might live free. So no one should ever
question our resolve or our commitment
to our allies. When I assumed office,
leaders and people across the region were
expressing their desire for greater American engagement. And so as President,
I decided that — given the importance of this
region to American security, to American prosperity —
the United States would rebalance our
foreign policy and play a larger and
lasting role in this region. That’s exactly
what we’ve done. Today, our alliances,
including with Australia, are stronger than
they have ever been. American exports
to this region have reached record levels. We’ve deepened
our cooperation with emerging powers and
regional organizations, especially in
Southeast Asia. We expanded our
partnerships with citizens as they’ve worked to
bolster their democracies. And we’ve shown that —
whether it’s a tsunami or an earthquake or a
typhoon — when our friends are in need, America shows up. We’re there to help. In good times and
bad, you can count on the United States of America. Now, there have been
times when people have been skeptical
of this rebalancing. They’re wondering
whether America has the staying power
to sustain it. And it’s true that
in recent years pressing events around the
world demand our attention. As the world’s
only superpower, the United States has
unique responsibilities that we gladly embrace. We’re leading the
international community in the fight to destroy the
terrorist group ISIL. We’re leading in dealing
with Ebola in West Africa and in opposing Russia’s
aggression against Ukraine — which is a
threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling
shoot-down of MH17, a tragedy that took so
many innocent lives, among them your
fellow citizens. As your ally and friend,
America shares the grief of these Australian
families, and we share the
determination of your nation for justice
and accountability. So, yes, we have a range
of responsibilities. That’s the deal. It’s a burden we
gladly shoulder. But even in each of these
international efforts, some of our strongest
partners are our allies and friends in
this region, including Australia. So meeting these other
challenges in the world is not a distraction from our
engagement in this region, it reinforces our
engagement in this region. Our rebalance is not only
about the United States doing more in Asia, it’s also
about the Asia Pacific region doing more
with us around the world. So I’m here today to say
that American leadership in the Asia Pacific
will always be a fundamental focus
of my foreign policy. It won’t always
make the headlines. It won’t always be
measured in the number of trips I make — although
I do keep coming back. But day in,
and day out, steadily, deliberately, we will
continue to deepen our engagement using every
element of American power — diplomacy, military,
economic, development, the power of our
values and our ideals. And so in the
time I have left, I want to describe, specifically, what America intends to
do in the coming years. First, the United
States will continue strengthening our alliances. With Japan, we’ll finalize
new defense guidelines and keep realigning our
forces for the future. With the Republic of Korea, we’ll deepen our
collaboration, including on missile
defense, to deter and defend against North Korean threats. With the Philippines,
we’ll train and exercise more to prepare for challenges
from counterterrorism and piracy to
humanitarian crises and disaster relief. And here in Australia,
more U.S. Marines will rotate through to
promote regional stability, alongside your “diggers.” Although I will say when
I went out to Darwin to inaugurate the new rotation
of our U.S. Marines there, that the mayor,
I think it was, took out crocodile insurance,
which disturbed me. (laughter) I mean I was flattered
that he took out insurance on my behalf. (laughter) But I did ask my ambassador
what this was all about. (laughter) And he described to
me how crocodiles kill more people than
sharks, and there are just a lot
of things in Australia that can kill you. (laughter) But that’s an aside. (laughter) We have an ironclad
commitment to the sovereignty,
independence, and security
of every ally. And we’ll expand
cooperation between allies, because we believe we’re
stronger when we stand together. The United States will
continue to modernize our defense posture
across the region. We’ll deploy more of
our most advanced military capabilities
to keep the peace and deter aggression. Our presence will
be more distributed, including in Southeast
Asia with partners like Singapore. And we’ll increase military
training and education, including working with
the military partners we have in this
region around the respect for human rights by
military and police. And by the end
of this decade, a majority of our Navy and Air Force
fleets will be based out of the Pacific,
because the United States is, and will always
be, a Pacific power. And keep in mind we do this without any territorial claims. We do this based on our
belief that a region that is peaceful and
prosperous is good for us and is good for the world. The United States will
continue broadening our cooperation with
emerging powers and emerging economies. We intend to help Vietnam
pursue economic reforms and new maritime
capabilities. We will continue
to move ahead with our comprehensive
partnership with Indonesia, which is a strong
example of diversity and pluralism. We’ll continue to expand
ties with Malaysia, a growing center of
entrepreneurship and innovation. And we support a greater
role in the Asia Pacific for India, which is the
world’s largest democracy. The United States will
continue expanding our engagement with
regional institutions, because together we can
meet shared challenges — from preventing the horror
of human trafficking to countering
violent extremism, to stemming the flow
of foreign terrorist fighters. Together, we can improve
maritime security, upholding freedom
of navigation and encouraging territorial disputes are
resolved peacefully. We’ll work with partners
to develop the East Asia Summit into the region’s
leading forum for addressing political and
security challenges. And we’ll support ASEAN’s
effort to reach a code of conduct with
China that reinforces international law in
the South China Sea. And speaking of China,
the United States will continue to pursue a
constructive relationship with China. By virtue of its size and
its remarkable growth, China will inevitably
play a critical role in the future of this region. And the question is, what
kind of role will it play? I just came from Beijing,
and I said there, the United States welcomes
the continuing rise of a China that is peaceful and
prosperous and stable and that plays a responsible
role in world affairs. It is a remarkable achievement
that millions of people have been lifted
out of poverty in China because of the
extraordinary growth rates that they’ve experienced. That is a good thing. We should want and welcome
that kind of development. And if, in fact, China
is playing the role of a responsible actor that
is peaceful and prosperous and stable, that is
good for this region, it’s good for the world, it’s good for the United States. So we’ll pursue
cooperation with China where our interests
overlap or align. And there are significant
areas of overlap: More trade and investment;
more communications between our militaries to
prevent misunderstandings or possible conflict; more
travel and exchanges between our people;
and more cooperation on global challenges, from
Ebola to climate change. But in this engagement we
are also encouraging China to adhere to the same
rules as other nations — whether in trade
or on the seas. And in this engagement we
will continue to be frank about where there
are differences, because America will
continue to stand up for our interests
and principles, including our
unwavering support for the fundamental human
rights of all people. We do not benefit from a
relationship with China or any other country in
which we put our values and our ideals aside. And for the young
people, practicality is a good thing. There are times where
compromise is necessary. That’s part of wisdom. But it’s also important to hang on to what
you believe — to know what you believe and then be
willing to stand up for it. And what’s true
for individuals is also true for countries. The United States will
continue to promote economic growth that is
sustainable and shared. So we’re going to work
with APEC to tear down barriers to trade and
investment and combat the corruption that steals
from so many citizens. We’ll keep opposing
special preferences for state-owned companies. We’ll oppose cyber-theft
of trade secrets. We’ll work with
partners to invest in the region’s
infrastructure in a way that’s open and transparent. We’ll support reforms that
help economies transition to models that boost
domestic demand and invest in people and their
education and their skills. We’ll keep leading the
effort to realize the Trans-Pacific Partnership
to lower barriers, open markets,
export goods, and create good
jobs for our people. But with the 12
countries of the TPP making up nearly 40 percent
of the global economy, this is also about
something bigger. It is our chance to
put in place new, high standards for trade
in the 21st century that uphold our values. So, for example, we are
pushing new standards in this trade agreement,
requiring countries that participate to protect
their workers better and to protect the
environment better, and protect
intellectual property that unleashes innovation,
and baseline standards to ensure transparency
and rule of law. It’s about a future where
instead of being dependent on a single market,
countries integrate their economies so they’re
innovating and growing together. That’s what TPP does. That’s why it would be
a historic achievement. That’s why I believe so
strongly that we need to get it done — not
just for our countries, but for the world. But that’s also
why it’s hard — because we’re asking
all these countries at various stages of
development to up their game. And it requires big
transitions for a lot of these countries,
including for the United States. And TPP is just one part
of our overall focus on growing the
global economy. That’s what the G-20
meetings are all about. Over the last few years,
the United States has put more people back to work
than all other advanced economies combined. But America can’t be
expected to just carry the world economy on our back. So here in Brisbane, the
G-20 has a responsibility to act — to boost
demand, and invest more in infrastructure, and create
good jobs for the people of all our nations. As we develop, as we
focus on our econ, we cannot forget
the need to lead on the global fight
against climate change. Now, I know that’s — (applause) — I know there’s been
a healthy debate in this country about it. (laughter) Here in the Asia
Pacific, nobody has more at stake when it comes
to thinking about and then acting on
climate change. Here, a climate that
increases in temperature will mean more extreme
and frequent storms, more flooding, rising seas
that submerge Pacific islands. Here in Australia, it
means longer droughts, more wildfires. The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier
Reef is threated. Worldwide, this past summer
was the hottest on record. No nation is immune,
and every nation has a responsibility
to do its part. And you’ll recall at
the beginning I said the United States and
Australia has a lot in common. Well, one of the things
we have in common is we produce a lot of carbon. Part of it’s this legacy
of wide-open spaces and the frontier mentality, and this incredible
abundance of resources. And so, historically,
we have not been the most energy-efficient
of nations, which means we’ve
got to step up. In the United States,
our carbon pollution is near its lowest levels
in almost two decades — and I’m very proud of that. Under my Climate Action
Plan, we intend to do more. In Beijing, I announced
our ambitious new goal — reducing our net
greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below
2005 levels by the year 2025, which will double
the pace at which we’re reducing carbon pollution
in the United States. Now, in a historic step, China
made its own commitment, for the first
time, agreeing to slow, peak and then reverse the course
of China’s carbon emissions. And the reason that’s so
important is because if China, as it develops,
adapts the same per capita carbon emissions as
advanced economies like the United States
or Australia, this planet doesn’t
stand a chance, because they’ve got
a lot more people. So them setting up a target
sends a powerful message to the world that
all countries — whether you are a
developed country, a developing country, or
somewhere in between — you’ve got to be able
to overcome old divides, look squarely at the
science, and reach a strong global climate
agreement next year. And if China and the United States can agree on this, then the world can
agree on this. We can get this done. And it is necessary for
us to get it done. (applause) Because I have not had to go
to the Great Barrier Reef — (laughter) — and I want to come back,
and I want my daughters to be able to come back, and I want them to be able
to bring their daughters or sons to visit. (applause) And I want that there
50 years from now. (applause) Now, today, I’m announcing
that the United States will take another
important step. We are going to
contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund so
we can help developing nations deal with climate change. (applause) So along with the other nations that have pledged support, this gives us the opportunity to
help vulnerable communities with an early-warning system,
with stronger defenses against storm surges, climate-resilient
infrastructure. It allows us to help farmers
plant more durable crops. And it allows us to help
developing countries break out of this false
choice between development and pollution;
let them leap-frog some of the dirty industries
that powered our development; go straight to a
clean-energy economy that allows them to
grow, create jobs, and at the same time
reduce their carbon pollution. So we’ve very proud of the
work that we have already done. We are mindful of the
great work that still has to be done on this issue. But let me say,
particularly again to the young people here:
Combating climate change cannot be the work
of governments alone. Citizens, especially
the next generation, you have to keep
raising your voices, because you deserve to
live your lives in a world that is cleaner and
that is healthier and that is sustainable. But that is not going
to happen unless you are heard. It is in the nature of
things, it is in the nature of the world that those of us
who start getting gray hair are a little set in our ways, that interests are
entrenched — not because people are bad people, it’s just that’s how we’ve
been doing things. And we make investments,
and companies start depending on certain
energy sources, and change is uncomfortable
and difficult. And that’s why
it’s so important for the next generation to
be able to step and say, no, it doesn’t have
to be this way. You have the power to
imagine a new future in a way that some of the older
folks don’t always have. And the same is true when
it comes to issues of democracy and
human rights. There are times where
when we speak out on these issues we are
told that democracy is just a Western value. I fundamentally
disagree with that. (applause) Japan, Taiwan,
South Korea, they have built
thriving democracies. Filipinos showed us the
strength of People Power. Indonesians just voted
in a historic election. I just came from Burma; this is a place that for 40 years was under the grip of a
military junta, one of the most closed and
oppressive nations on Earth. And there, I was
inspired by citizens and civil society and
parliamentarians who are now working to sustain a transition
to a democratic future. I had a town hall meeting
with young people like you, in which they
were asking, what does it mean to
create rule of law? And how should we deal
with ethnic diversity in our city? You could feel
the excitement. What does a free
press look like, and how does it operate? And how do we make sure that journalism is responsible? Incredible ferment and
debate that’s taking place. Those young people, they want
the same things that you do. The notion that somehow
they’re less interested in opportunity or less
interested in avoiding arbitrary arrest,
or less interested in being censored is
fundamentally untrue. Today, people in Hong
Kong are speaking out for their universal rights. And so here in Asia
and around the world, America supports free
and fair elections, because citizens must
be free to choose their own leaders — as in
Thailand where we are urging a quick return to
inclusive, civilian rule. We support freedom
of assembly, and freedom of speech,
and freedom of the press, a free and open Internet,
strong civil societies, because the voices of the
people must be heard and leaders must be
held accountable — even though it’s
uncomfortable sometimes. I promise you, if
you lead a country, there are times where you
are aggravated with people voicing opinions
that seem to think you’re doing something wrong. You prefer everybody
just praise you. I understand. (laughter) But that’s not how
societies move forward. We support strong
institutions and independent judiciaries
and open government, because the rule of
force must give way to the rule of law. And in that same fashion,
the United States will continue to stand up for
the inherent dignity of every human being. Now, dignity begins with
the most basic of needs — a life free of hunger
and disease and want. So, yes, we’ll speak out
on behalf of human rights, but we are also going to
invest in the agriculture that allows farmers to
feed their families and boost their incomes. We’ll invest in the
development that promotes growth and helps end
the injustice of extreme poverty in places like
the Lower Mekong Delta. We intend to partner
with all the countries in the region to create stronger
public health systems and new treatments that
save lives and realize our goals of being the first
AIDS-free generation. And what we’ve learned
from the Ebola outbreak is that in this
globalized world, where the Pacific
is like a lake, if countries are so poor
that they can’t afford basic public health
infrastructure, that threatens our health. We cannot built a moat
around our countries, and we shouldn’t try. What we should be doing
is making sure everybody has some basic public health systems
that allow for early warning when outbreaks of infectious
disease may occur. That’s not just
out of charity. It is in our
self-interest. And again, I want to speak
to young people about this. When we talk about these
issues of development, when we invest in the
wellbeing of people on the other side of the
globe, when we stand up for freedom, including
occasionally having to engage in
military actions, we don’t do that just
because we are charitable. We do that because we
recognize that we are linked, and that if somebody, some child is stricken
with a curable disease on the other side
of the world, at same point that could
have an impact on our child. We’ll advance human dignity by standing up for the
rights of minorities, because no one’s equality
should ever be denied. We will stand up for
freedom of religion — the right of every person to
practice their faith as they choose — because we
are all children of God, and we are all fallible. And the notion that
we, as a majority, or the state should
tell somebody else what to believe with
respect to their faith, is against our
basic values. We will stand up for our
gay and lesbian fellow citizens, because they need to be
treated equally under the law. (applause) We will stand up for
the rights and futures of our wives and
daughters and partners, because I believe that the
best measure of whether a nation is going to be
successful is whether they are tapping the
talents of their women and treating them as full
participants in politics and society and the economy. (applause) And we’re going to continue
to invest in the future of this region, and that means
you, this region’s youth — all of you — your optimism,
your idealism, your hopes. I see it everywhere I go. I spend a lot of time
with young people. I spend a lot of time
with old people, too. But I prefer spending
time with young people. (laughter) I meet them
in Tokyo and Seoul, and Manila and Jakarta. It’s the spirit of young
men and women in Kuala Lumpur and Rangoon, who
are participating in our Young Southeast Asian
Leaders Initiative. And like you, they’re
ready to lead. To the young woman with
an idea who dreams of starting her own business
— if she just had the network, if she just had the capital, America wants to
be her partner, because we believe
in the entrepreneur that you can be, the
innovations you can spark and the jobs you can create. And when you succeed,
we’ll all be more prosperous. To the young man who’s
working late in a clinic, tending to a patient,
who dreams not just of treating diseases,
but preventing them — if I just had the resources, if
I just had the support — we want to be
your partner, because we believe in the
advocate that you can be, and in the families
you can reach and the lives you can save. And when you succeed,
our world will be better. To the young woman
tired of the tensions in her community, who dreams of
helping her neighbors see beyond differences —
if she could just start a dialogue, if she knew
how others had walked the same path — well, America
wants to be your partner, because we believe in the
activist that you can be, and the empathy
that you can build, and the understanding you
can foster between people. And when you succeed, our world will be a
little more peaceful. And to the young man who
believes his voice isn’t being heard, who dreams
of bringing people like him together across his
country — if he just knew how to organize and
mobilize them — we want to be your partner,
because we believe in the leaders that you can
be, in the difference you can make to ignite
positive change. And when you succeed, the world will be a
little more free. So that’s the future
we can build together. That’s the commitment America
is making in the Asia Pacific. It’s a partnership
not just with nations, but with people, with
you, for decades to come. Bound by the
values we share, guided by the
vision we seek, I am absolutely confident
we can advance the security and the prosperity
and the dignity of people across
this region. And in pursuit
of that future, you will have no
greater friend than the United
States of America. So thank you very much. God bless Australia. (applause) God bless America. God bless our
great alliance. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *