Friendship is a word we throw around often. Deep friendship, for most people, denotes a lifelong bond of trust, loyalty, care, and consideration between individuals built on shared experiences and values. Yet Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntIt's time to make access to quality kidney care accessible and equitable for all Hartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE’s (R-Mo.) friendship has transcended the constraints of the individual to project friendship with a country — my country, Australia.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Sen. Blunt has been a friend to countless Australian staffers, ambassadors, ministers, and prime ministers. His friendship has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between our two great nations. In 2004, he was instrumental in convincing the Bush Administration to enter into negotiations for an Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) and went on to coordinate floor support for the agreement in his role as majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. While always remaining true to the United States, Sen. Blunt has gone out of his way to articulate and advocate Australia’s interests.
His successful efforts to secure AUSFTA’s congressional passage unlocked 15 years of an expanded strong economic partnership; one that has become more important to Australia than any other country. A relationship which has eclipsed China when two-way investment is taken into account. AUSFTA created mutual demand for each country’s products and services, creating jobs and strengthening our people-to-people and economic ties. Further, AUSFTA has led to significant new innovations and collaborations between Australian and U.S. companies, research institutions and governments. Perhaps valued, in particular, is the AUSFTA-triggered mutual expanded opportunities for high skilled visas in each other’s nations, underpinning this growth and collaboration. All of this would not have been possible if it weren’t for the efforts of Sen. Blunt.
Sen. Blunt was also instrumental in reviving congressional consideration of the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, which absolved Australia of defense export constraints and regulations. The treaty had lain dormant since being signed by Prime Minister Howard and President George W. Bush. Sen. Blunt assisted in advising on where inroads needed to be made, getting colleagues on board, and ultimately getting it ratified.
In 2017, the senator stepped up again when Australia needed him. He revived the Friends of Australia Caucus in Congress as one of two Senate co-chairs. Through the Caucus, Roy has hosted a multitude of meetings and events with high-level Australian ministers and visitors, most recently co-hosting a roundtable discussion with our Defense and Foreign Ministers.
In 2018, he spearheaded a powerfully symbolic Senate Resolution to commemorate the centenary of Mateship, marking 100 years of Australians and Americans fighting side by side in every major conflict. Sen. Blunt has been focused on deepening, broadening, and modernizing our bilateral engagement for decades. He has been a true friend and ally to all Australians and the United States and Australia both owe their thanks to his efforts and friendship.
To demonstrate Australia’s deep gratitude for his friendship, I had the distinct privilege of awarding Sen. Blunt with an Order of Australia on Sept. 22. Established in 1975, the Order of Australia is an honor few achieve which recognizes individuals for their achievement or meritorious service — and many fewer non-Australians have ever received the award. On behalf of all Australians, I extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to Sen. Blunt for being our mate.
Arthur Sinodinos is Australia’s ambassador to the United States.