Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has backed the United States to resolve its economic woes, but acknowledged that too often it takes a crisis in Washington to prompt decisive action.Addressing an Australian-American Leadership Dialogue dinner in Perth late Saturday, Gillard said the world had felt the effects of the global financial crisis and was now watching as the US faced "a great test".
"We watch with a sincere desire to see your mighty country's economy regain its momentum," Gillard told an audience of Australian and American political, finance and military figures, including World Bank president Robert Zoellick.
"I do have faith in the ability of the United States to get its economic house in order even if, too often for comfort, it takes a crisis to force decisive action."
Gillard said that regaining its economic strength was vital to America holding its global influence, including in the rising Asia-Pacific region.
"This battle is not just about the economy and jobs. US global leadership and its influence in a rapidly changing Asia Pacific depend on a continued economic strength," she said.
"Ultimately, it is economic power which underpins strategic power."
Global markets went into a panic last week on concerns about the eurozone's sovereign debt issues and the historic US debt downgrade by Standard and Poor's which came after American lawmakers narrowly averted a disastrous debt default.
Gillard said American leadership would be vital for the fiscal consolidation and economic re-balancing needed to put world economic growth on a sustainable footing.
Noting Australia's long-standing military alliance with the US, the ANZUS Treaty, the centre-left Labor Party prime minister said Washington's engagement with the region was crucial.
Australia's future prosperity and security depended on "maintaining the strategic stability in Asia, upholding its openness to trade and commerce, and maintaining its rules-based order", Gillard said."For decades, the United States has underwritten regional security and created the conditions for peace, growth and prosperity, including through its forward military presence supported by its alliances in the region," she said.
"In the decades to come, the US presence in Asia will remain the cornerstone of regional stability."And she welcomed US President's Barack Obama's emphasis on Asia as the world's strategic and economic weight shifts to the region."I believe the balance of US commitments -- which sees the US maintain its presence in Northeast Asia while enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean -- is the right one," she said.
Gillard's comments were backed by Treasurer Wayne Swan who cautioned that the problems of Europe and the United States were not insurmountable but would take time to overcome.
"Tough decisions will clearly need to be made to reduce their excessive levels of debt and ensure their budgets are sustainable," Swan said in an economic note issued Sunday.
"Unfortunately this means the outlook for the global economy will remain uncertain for some time."