Your Excellency, distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Friends of the Republic of Korea.
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to join in the celebration of your National Day Ambassador.
It’s also tremendous to see here with us a number of Australians who actually served in the Korean War. I remember, with some pride Ambassador, that the Australian Airforce and the Australian Navy were two of the first military forces in to help your country in those dire, dark days of the early 1950s. It is tremendous to see some of the Navy and Air Force people here today.
I also Ambassador am pleased to say that, in recent years particularly, Australia has fully recognised the Battle of Kapyong and it has become one of the significant military commemorations for Australia and it does highlight the very close relationship between our two countries over many, many, years.
I come from the north of Australia, based in Townsville where we are very grateful to a very significant Korean Company, Sunmetals, for the refinery they have established there. They originally came to Australia because we had cheap power. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so cheap now and the Company has some challenges ahead but they are a significant contributor to the economy of my base city of Townsville and, your Excellency, I also note that there is significant Korean investment in agriculture, particularly in northern Australia. I come from a sugar growing area and I know that Korea is a big purchaser of Australian sugar and will, hopefully, be even bigger when we eventually get that Free Trade Agreement cemented, and I think that is one of the great challenges and urgencies of the new Government to make sure that the Korean Free Trade Agreement is brought to fruition.
I spent a magnificent week in Korea a couple of years ago and was absolutely amazed at the success of your country in recent years. I was talking to some veterans who were reminding me of what Korea was like when they were there in the early 1950s and to see it today, you can only wonder at the hard work and skills of your countrymen in the way you have built one of the most modern countries going.
Your Hyundai Shipyards are an amazing phenomenon, I suspect there are other things, but I had the opportunity of seeing the Hyundai Shipyards and they are a great credit to the Korean people.
Ambassador, thank you for having me with you today. I conclude by saying for as much as I love Korea and the Korean people, I will never be able to get home tonight unless I mention that my wife has a greater fascination with Korea and that is herHyundai Getz motor vehicle.
People drive Mercedes and all sorts of things, but I have often said to my wife that she won’t go beyond her Hyundai Getz and we are forever indebted to the Korean people and their skills and expertise for what they have produced and given to Australia over many years . Congratulations on the day today, thank you for having me.