The 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Republic of Korea, 13th October 2011


Albert Hall, Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra ACT

Your Excellency Mr TAEYONG CHO (Ambassador of the Republic of Korea), distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, senior officers of the Korean and Australian defence forces, my Parliamentary colleague Philip Ruddock, other friends of the Republic of Korea, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour to be with you on this 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two nations.
Can I thank you for inviting me to share this significant occasion with you. Can I also thank you for inviting a representative of Australias iconic wildlife and Im pleased to see one of our magpie birds has joined us I hope he sent an RSVP! He seems to be enjoying himself.
2011 has been designated the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship with a number of cultural, business and diplomatic functions planned.
In the West, we call the 50th anniversary the Golden Anniversary. However, as a resident of North Queensland where Korea Zinc Company Limited operates a state-of-the-art $500 million zinc refinery, I could be forgiven for calling this year the Zinc Anniversary of our relationship.
The Townsville refinery, operated by Korea Zincs subsidiary, Sun Metals, is a shining example of the benefits that have flowed from the close ties that unite our two nations.
When Prime Minister Howard officially opened the refinery in November 2000, he noted that the facility represented the largest single investment in Australia by a Korean company.
The refinery employs 300 staff directly and supports a further 1500 jobs in associated industries throughout Queensland.
With over $330 million in annual sales, the Sun Metals Refinery is one of the major drivers of the economy of Townsville, North Queensland and in fact the whole nation.
Among the many books in my office is a beautifully printed, glossy coffee-table book called 100 FAMOUS MOUNTAINS IN KOREA presented to me by the Korea Forest Service when I was Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and The Environment in the Howard Government.
Apart from the beautiful photographs, the book is a tangible example and a constant reminder to me of the strong bonds that link our two dynamic nations.
As the Coalitions spokesman on the Defence Force and Defence Support, I am very much aware of Australias willing support of the Republic of Korea during your countrys fight against the Communists in the Korean War. Our brave young soldiers, airmen and sailors fought shoulder to shoulder with the young men of your nation to secure the democratic freedom that the Republic of Korea now enjoys.
As my Parliamentary colleague Philip Ruddock has said, we in Australia regularly gather to celebrate and commemorate the battles of the Korean War and the sacrifices of Korean and Australian servicemen. The Battle of Kapyong is a particularly important commemoration for all Australians.
In closing, I would like to repeat a statement that I believe is appropriate on this important anniversary of our 50-year relationship.
This statement was a favourite saying of Syngman Rhee, the first President of the Republic of Korea.
He was fond of saying: If you stay together, you will live. If you separate from other people, you will die.
Let us continue to work together in the same spirit embodied in that statement by former President Rhee.

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