Stirling for key US talks

HMAS Stirling naval base will host some important dignitaries including Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Australian-American leadership talks in August.

As well as Ms Gillard, Opposition leader Tony Abbott and senior US and Australian officials from both sides of politics are expected to visit Rockingham for the talks in the second week of August.

On Friday, Brand MHR Gary Gray said he had met with former Labor leader and Australian ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley in Canberra this week to discuss the high-level talks, which will take place in Perth and at Garden Island.

Mr Gray said both he and Mr Beazley had a long-standing involvement in the Australian- American Leadership Dialogue, a bipartisan diplomatic initiative designed to foster understanding and develop areas of mutual interest among the two nations.

He said Mr Beazley said during last year’s US-Australia dialogue it had been difficult to get the Pacific on the agenda, due to concerns surrounding the global financial crisis.

But even though the global financial crisis remained an ongoing issue in his first year as US ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich had already made five trips to Perth and three to the Pilbara.

Mr Gray said WA and the US enjoyed a productive relationship, and that US investment had helped underpin WA’s oil, gas, iron ore and aluminium industries over several decades.

‘‘Indeed, the US remains the single biggest foreign direct investor in Australia, and WA,’’ he said.

Rockingham and Warnbro MLAs Mark McGowan and Paul Papalia said it was appropriate to hold the talks at the naval base because it would highlight how important the area was to the nation’s security and showcase Rockingham to the rest of the world.

Mr Gray said the Navy would also play a key role during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October.