British Prime Minister David Cameron praised Australia as the “can do” country, during his speech delivered to federal parliament.
The Tory party leader, who is in Australia for the G20 summit which begins in Brisbane on Saturday, was given the honour of addressing a joint sitting of the Australian Senate and House of Representatives on Friday.
In his speech, Mr Cameron stressed the shared history of the United Kingdom and Australia and the need to act and speak with a united voice against trade protectionism and Islamic extremism.
“Coming here is like visiting family” and said, noting that his own Australian aunty was watching from the packed gallery.
The British PM said the two nations’ bonds were forged in “the best of times and the worst of times”.
He recalled how he once visited Gallipoli with Aussies and Kiwis, saying he and his companions were “moved beyond words” by the shared suffering of the three nations and what they were attempting to achieve together.
Mr Cameron said that historically, when it came to working with the UK on the international stage, Australia was “the can do country”.
“There is no more dependable ally when the chips are down,” he said.
He also acknowledged the Aboriginal original owners of the land, saying he was proud that Cambridge and Oxford now count Indigenous Australians among its students.
Mr Cameron then shifted to speaking about contemporary security matters. He outlined the modernising of the British military and drew attention to the two nations’ co-operation on the Five Eyes surveillance programme. He stressed, though, that a government’s success should be measured by “the freedom that flowed to its citizens” and not the information it held about them.
Mr Cameron then spoke about new counter-terrorism measures his government would seek to implement in dealing with the issue of its citizens travelling abroad to be foreign fighters for radical militant organisations like Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
He scotched the notion that poverty was the root cause of support for such radical movements. Instead, he said, the root cause was the extremist narrative, which must be countered aggressively.
“Let us have faith in what our modern societies have to offer,” he said, insisting that democracies such as the UK and Australia should not “shy away from self-criticism” while being confident that their institutions were worth defending.
He lauded the attributes of “open societies”, highlighting the rule of law, free press and property rights, saying they were the key to national success and it was vital to maintain the courage to promote and defend them.
Emphasising the importance of the immanent G20 talks, Mr Cameron warned against a growing inclination towards trade protectionism, urging a further opening up of the global economy. He also said he supported a new, more open trade deal between the EU and Australia.
Mr Cameron had earlier arrived in Canberra from Sydney, accompanied by Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott. The British PM was welcomed to Parliament House with a ceremonial guard and cannon salute.
Following the speech, the pair visited the nearby Australian War memorial to lay wreaths.
Meanwhile, other global leaders were continuing to arrive in Australia for the G20 summit which formally begins on Saturday in Brisbane.
IMAGE: British Prime Minister David Cameron inspects the guard at Parliament House on November 14, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. British Prime Minister David Cameron is attending meeting and events in Sydney and Canberra before travelling to the G20 Summit in Brisbane. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)