President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address

President Bush has delivered the annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. Less ambitious in scope than in previous years, reflecting his loss of political capital, Bush stuck fast to his foreign policy goals and proposed limited domestic policies.

The speech began with a tribute to Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain Martin Luther King. Mrs. King died today.

In the speech, Bush reiterated his commitment to US intervention in Iraq. He called for the Congress to renew the Patriot Act. Domestically, Bush called for the Congress to make permanent tax cuts and set out a plan to cut the US oil imports from the Middle East by 75% by 2025. He proposed a range of research initiatives into alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol.

Democrats rose to their feet and jeered as Bush noted the successful attempts to stymie his social security reforms proposed in last year’s speech.

Bush concluded his speech with a rhetorical flourish: “Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

“Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward – optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.”

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This is the prepared text of the State of the Union Address delivered by President George W. Bush.

President George W. BushToday our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.

Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we have seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history – and it has been my honor to serve with you. In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another – and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong – and together we will make it stronger.

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people ….. the only way to secure the peace ….. the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead. [Read more...]


John Howard’s Australia Day Address to the National Press Club

John HowardAustralia Day embodies a “profound truth and a simple irony”, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

According to Howard, “the truth is that people come to this country because they want to be Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down a test of Australianness. Such is the nature of our free society.”

Addressing the National Press Club in the Great Hall of Canberra’s Parliament House, Howard fielded many questions about yesterday’s reshuffle and the position of the National Party, but his speech focussed on what he said was “the secret of Australia’s greatness – our sense of balance”.

This balance can be seen in the balance between private and public economic activity, the balance in national identity between unity and diversity, the balance between history and geography in our global strategy, and the balance in our politics between rights and democratic responsibility.

In a speech that called for a new approach to the teaching of history in schools and which argued against the need for a bill of rights, Howard also called for tolerance and respect in the light of the Cronulla riots last month.

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This is the transcript of the Address to the National Press Club by the Prime Minister, John Howard, in the Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra.

A sense of balance: The Australian Achievement in 2006

Thank you very much Mr Randall. Tomorrow, with a simple yet eloquent pledge, about 14,000 people from more than 70 countries of origin will become Australian citizens. This Australia Day celebration of citizenship embodies a profound truth and a simple irony. [Read more...]


Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio. [Read more...]


Details of Howard Government’s Ministerial Changes

Changes to the Howard Government’s ministerial arrangements were announced today. They follow the departures over the past week of Senators Hill, Patterson and McDonald.

The changes were announced by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

The changes see the National Party lose one ministerial position as a result of yesterday’s defection of Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party.

Major ministerial positions are unchanged, with the exception of Brendan Nelson’s shift to Defence. His current Education portfolio will be taken by Julie Bishop.

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This is the text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

MINISTERIAL CHANGES

Earlier today I called on His Excellency the Governor-General and secured his approval to announce the following changes to the Ministry and the Administrative Arrangements Order. The changes to the Ministerial line-up reflect the depth of talent available to the Coalition and leave the Government well placed to pursue its fourth term agenda. [Read more...]


Tony Blair Praises Geoff Gallop

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great BritainThe British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has praised the retiring Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, as “one of the outstanding politicians of our generation”.

Blair’s comments came as the Labor caucus in Western Australia endorsed Alan Carpenter unopposed as their new leader. Carpenter will be sworn in tomorrow as Premier.

Speaking at his monthly press conference at 10 Downing Street, Blair was asked:

The Western Australian Premier, Geoff Gallop, recently resigned, he is an old friend of yours from your university days. He resigned because of depression. What were your thoughts when you heard about him stepping down because of mental illness?

Blair responded:

Well obviously as you probably know I have spoken to Geoff several times in the past 10 days or so. Geoff Gallpp was in my view one of the outstanding politicians of our generation, an absolutely brilliant man, a fantastic person as well, and as people in Western Australia will know, a person of tremendous warmth, integrity and achievement in western Australia. And so obviously I was really sorry that he took that decision but I know he did it in the best interests of the state and his own family and his own health. And I have no doubt at all he will bounce back very quickly because he is a quite exceptional person.

Blair and Gallop were both at Oxford University in the early 1970s. Gallop was a Rhodes Scholar.