G’Day USA 2017 Program Launch

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you Richard. Good morning. I am absolutelydelighted to be here at the official launch of the 2017 G'Day USA program, withmy colleague Steve Ciobo, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment andwith our very good friend and partner, Alan Joyce representing Qantas and thegreat partnership that exists between the Australian Government and Qantas, andnot only in respect of G'Day USA but more generally.

I also acknowledge Jonathan O'Dea, theParliamentary Secretary for Tourism representing Premier Mike Baird, JamesCarouso the Chargé d'Affaires of the United States and his team, and all thesponsors and supporters and friends of G'Day USA and the Australia/UnitedStates relationship.

In a time of unprecedented change, with evershifting global dynamics, it is more important than ever to treasure the longstanding relationships - to recognise the enduring nature of arelationship that has survived the good times and tough times.

And there is no more important relationship toAustralia than ours with the United States of America.

The United States is our region's securityguarantor, our major defence partner, the largest source of foreign directinvestment to our country and our second largest trading partner in terms ofgoods and services.

Like any relationship it should be nurtured. Itshould never be taken for granted and this is where G'Day USA comes into itsown. This is a year-long program from the west coast to the east coast, withevents that showcase the very best Australia has to offer, to enhance our tradeand investment links but also our cultural and social ties. It is anopportunity to demonstrate to the largest consumer market in the world ourtalents, our abilities, our creative industries - from film and television, tofood and wine, fashion and design, music, art, education, sport, our innovativecapabilities in defence industries and technology - and also to showcase theamazing, creative, talented and gifted people of Australia who are behind ourcreative industries.

This year to increase our profile in the UnitedStates, Steve and I have brought together a group of people who are committedto the Australia/US relationship, who are prepared to use their connections,their presence, their profile, to enhance G'Day USA, and they have agreed to beG'Day USA Champions.

Hugh Jackman is our first G'Day USA Champion, andof course not only he is very well known in the United States but globally, andhas always supported us by not only appearing at events but doing things likearranging for the Empire State Building to be decked out in green and goldcolours on Australia Day!

Rachel Griffiths, the Australian star, will alsobe a Champion. Peter Lowy of Westfield, Greg Basser from Village Roadshow, DanRosen from ARIA, Robert Thompson from NewsCorp, the Hon Bruce Baird, theoriginal Friends of Tourism founder and the former chair of the Tourism andTransport Forum, and of course the Hon John Olsen the Chair of the AustraliaAmerica Association and the founding father of G'Day USA.

In another milestone for 2017, we will enter intopartnership with the Australia Recording Industry Association (ARIA), much aswe have entered into partnerships with Screen Australia, AusFilm and theAustralian Fashion Chamber. What we will do under this partnership is showcasethe talents of Australian recording artists and their music. Each year we willselect an ARIA Award winner to perform at the G'Day USA LA Gala, and hencebring our talented people to the attention of the American public. And in 2017this honour will go to ARIA award winner James Keogh, otherwise known as VanceJoy to his fans. I first met him at the Calgary Stampede, where he wasperforming before a very large and might I say besotted crowd – little wondergiven that he was ARIA's Best Male Musician last year.

One of the highlights of the G'Day USA program isthe Gala Event held in LA and next year it will be on 28 January. We take thisoccasion to honour Australians who have been a success in the United States andwho have contributed so much to the Australia/US relationship. This comingJanuary the three honourees are worthy of this award.

The first being Ben Mendelsohn who will receivean award for Excellence in Film and Television. His long and criticallyacclaimed career includes The Big Steal, The Dark Knight Rises, The MississippiGrind. He has won an Emmy for his role in Bloodline and he is also about tostar in a yet-to-be released film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The next honouree will be Catherine Martin, andCatherine is of course, one of the world's finest costume design and setproducers and she will be recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award in filmand design. Her Academy Award winning efforts have included Moulin Rouge, TheGreat Gatsby and she is now doing a Netflix series The Get Down.

Our third honouree is David Hill and I believehis brother Andrew is here today. David has a long career in live televisionproduction, for the Fox Group and for National Geographic, and he was the firstAustralian to co-produce an Academy Awards Ceremony. David will receive aLifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to television andentertainment.

Ben, Catherine and David will all be present inLos Angeles to receive this award.

Ladies and gentlemen we are very excited to againpartner with Qantas to present a magnificent range of events in 2017 for G'DayUSA.

Thank you for your support and thank you to allthose who have supported this amazing public diplomacy initiative and togetherwith Steve Ciobo we are delighted to launch the 2017 program today.

- Ends -

Media enquiries