The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 07, 2011
Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Gillard During a Classroom Visit
Wakefield High School
11:52 A.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hey, guys! How are you? Good to see you. Nice to see you.
Well, the — it is wonderful to be back at Wakefield. Some of you remember I was here a couple of years ago, right? It was a year and a half ago? I know I had less gray hair the last time I was here. (Laughter.)
We wanted to stop by because we have a very special guest here today. But before I do that, I just want to say — I’m assuming you guys are all aware that this is Ms. Fraley’s birthday.
Q Can we sing Happy Birthday?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Should we sing Happy Birthday? (Applause.)
So let’s — I’ll kick us off.
(Class sings Happy Birthday.) (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: For those of you in the back, you should know that Ms. Fraley was selected as one of the Virginia Teachers of the Year. So we’re very proud of that. I was just talking to her. It turns out that she’s been teaching now for 10 years. Before she was teaching, she was a journalist. So she decided to make a change and get into something useful. (Laughter.) I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t resist.
Now, for our real order of business here, we have a wonderful special guest. This is Prime Minister Julia Gillard. She has come all the way from Australia. She will be addressing a joint session of Congress, which is a very unique honor. Few heads of state get the privilege of addressing a joint session of Congress. But the reason that she’s been asked to do this is because we have as close of an alliance with Australia as any country in the world. We have a shared democracy. We have shared values. Their football is a little different than ours. (Laughter.)
But there are very few countries where we’ve got such a close bond and such a unique bond. And that dates back for decades. But it’s also manifest today where, for example, Australia is one of the leading coalition partners in Afghanistan, so our soldiers are fighting side by side. We cooperate on a whole range of security issues and economic issues. The reason we wanted to stop by a school was in part because Prime Minister Gillard used to be the minister of education in Australia. So she takes a great interest in how our young people are developing and how we’re preparing them for the 21st-century economy.
So we are thrilled to have her here. Madam Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: Thank you very much. (Applause.) I was saying to the President as we came here that I’ve been to a Washington school before, when I was in Washington and was taken to a school. It was actually a primary school, much younger children. And I was a few minutes into my address when one small boy turned to the small boy next to him and said, “Is she speaking English?” (Laughter.) So provided all of you understand me today, I’m going to count this as a success.
But I thought I would come along today and just talk to you about Australia and actually start by asking you a few questions, a bit of a pop quiz about Australia. You’re looking — (laughter) —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Don’t embarrass Ms. Fraley. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: We’ve got some Australian journalists here, so if you can’t answer the questions then I’m sure they’ll be able to. (Laughter.)
Anybody got any idea the population of Australia, how many people? (Laughter.) Just a guess.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Anybody want to take a stab?
Q Twenty-one million?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Very close.
PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: Very close. Twenty-two million. Read the rest here.