United States Ambassador to Australia. Jeffrey L. Bleich spoke on the need for vision and leadership in international relations on August 8, at the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Anniversary lecture at Curtin University.
Held annually, the lecture marked the 66th anniversary of Australia’s war time Prime Minister John Curtin’s death on July 5 1945.
Before taking up his post, Ambassador Bleich previously served as special counsel to President Barack Obama and has been recognised as one of the United State’s top lawyers.
In his speech, Ambassador Bleich referred to the strong working relationship between Australia and America and called for more to be done in solving some of the world’s biggest problems.
“Once again we find ourselves facing a crucial set of crossroads,” Ambassador Bleich said.
“New and different forms of threat have emerged, which are not nation-against-nation, but are nature-against-nation and criminal-network-against nation.
“We are challenged more by water or food shortages with the potential to dislocate thousands or millions of people.
“We are challenged by the fact that terrorists and the tools of terrorism can circle the planet as quickly as a plane flight, and computer viruses can circle the planet in a blink of an eye.”
Ambassador Bleich also focused on strengthening national security throughout future years.
“Our strength has been in taking a longer view of national security, rather than simply focusing on preventing an attack tomorrow, or next week, or even next year,” he said.
“If we do not begin addressing them today, we face a challenge to our long-term security greater than any single nation poses.”
With the 60th anniversary of ANZUS (Australian, New Zealand and United States) treaty approaching next month, Ambassador Bleich finished by reflecting on Australia and America’s commitment to leadership.
“Let us hope and pray that we have the courage, the conviction and the commitment to do as he [John Curtin] did to feed and power our people, to make cyberspace safe and peaceful, and to halt the forces of terrorism,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating, Patron of the JCPML, Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeanette Hacket and members of the Curtin family attended the anniversary lecture.
Full text of the lecture is available at http://john.curtin.edu.au/events/speeches/bleich.html