I warmly welcome the unanimous decision of the University of Canberra Council
to award the degree of Honorary Doctor of the University to His Majesty
King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand.
The Honorary Doctorate has been awarded in recognition of His Majesty's
outstanding contribution to the development of education in Thailand and
his continued commitment to improving the quality of life in rural Thailand.
It is particularly appropriate that this award has been conferred in the
year marking the Fiftieth Anniversary of His Majesty's Accession to the
The past 50 years has been a period of unprecedented and dramatic change
in Thailand. His Majesty's direct personal involvement in an extensive network
of rural development and education projects, and his deft guidance of the
development of democracy in Thailand, have been central to Thailand's stability
and its rapid economic progress during this period
This award also serves to underpin the growing network of educational linkages
between our two countries, in terms of both student exchanges and institutional
ties, which has seen Australia become Thailand's fastest growing student
destination (and second largest overall. behind the United States).
I hope that these linkages will be further strengthened by the development
of the 50:50 Youth Ambassadors' Program which I proposed in my discussions
with members of the Thai Government during my visit to Thailand in April.
The Program will bring newly graduated Australians to Thailand annually
as volunteers to assist with rural development.