G'Day USA Program launch

  • Speech, check against delivery

What a delight it is to be here today with Alan Joyce and the QANTAS team to launch the 2016 G'Day USA Program in the presence of Ambassador John Berry, United States Ambassador to Canberra, and Ambassador-designate Joe Hockey, Australia's Ambassador to Washington, and I'm delighted to confirm that Joe will actually be in the United States in time for G'Day USA 2016. I also acknowledge the sponsors and supporters here for what is a very important event and that is the launch of the 2016 Program.

As you would know, since 2004 the Australian Government and QANTAS have been delivering G'Day USA which is an outstanding example of Australia's soft power diplomacy at its very best. G'Day USA is the premier cultural, economic, public diplomacy initiative that we have with the United States.

Of course, the person behind it all, John Olsen, is here today. When he was Consul-General in Los Angeles, he conceived of an idea where Australia would have a week of events showcasing our very best talent across a range of fields. Today, John is still supporting G'Day USA, and I thank him so much for his dynamism, his energy and his commitment to this cause. It is now a year-long initiative - West Coast and East Coast - bringing together corporate leaders, policy makers, our creative talent and academia from the United States and from Australia.

It is an unparalleled opportunity for us to show American audiences how sophisticated and dynamic our Australian economy is and it is also an opportunity for us to showcase our greatest natural resource – our people, and our greatest natural asset – their creativity, their talent, their innovative flair. G'Day USA is a way to show the United States more of the very best in our film, food, wine, fashion, music, education, defence technology, water and drought management - a whole range of areas where Australia excels.

The United States is the largest foreign investor in our nation, one of our largest trading partners and 10 years ago we signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and so our economies have grown even closer. Now we are partners in the Trans Pacific Partnership, an historic free trade agreement covering 12 nations and two of the founding members – the United States and Australia.

I want to mention the business sector, because the private sector is an indispensable part of the success of G'Day USA over the past 11 years. Since its beginnings about 1000 Australian companies and about 3000 US companies have taken part in G'Day USA and I think that is extraordinary.

I want to thank all of the sponsors over the years, particularly the sponsors of 2016. We are very excited about the depth of our relationship with the US Study Centre and Robert Hill is here today, with the Australian-American Association, with Wine Australia and also Ausfilm, thank you so much for being part of this amazing event.

The centrepiece of course for G'Day USA is the Gala in Los Angeles, held every year in January. It is always fabulous - 2016 promises to be absolutely fabulous - as QANTAS, as host, highlights the impact of the Australian film industry and how we excel in the film and entertainment business.

You will be aware that the Australian Government is very keen to promote Australia's excellence in film and entertainment because we have such a pool of creative, talented actors and crew and technicians, special effects people and they really are world class. We have encouraged Hollywood producers to film their blockbusters here in Australia. Recently our Minister for Communications and I were able to announce that Sir Ridley Scott's next Alien movie, and the next in the Thor series starring our very own Chris Hemsworth, will be filmed in Australia in 2016. This means about $300 million in additional foreign investment, about 3000 jobs for Australian actors and crew and supporters and about 6000 contracts for Australian businesses. This is an enormous boost to Australia's economic growth and particularly for jobs in our country.

At the Gala event in Los Angeles next January we will be honouring two outstanding Australians of immense talent in the film industry and they will receive honorary awards to highlight the breadth and depth of our talent in film. I want to thank QANTAS for making the Gala event possible because it really does become a fixture on the US awards season agenda with the backing that we have from QANTAS and other supporters.

So I'm delighted to announce today that at the Gala event in Los Angeles on the 28th of January Dr George Miller will receive the G'Day USA Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment, over many years, to the creative industries in Australia and particularly his renowned reputation as a filmmaker through the Mad Max franchise.

Secondly, Joel Edgerton will receive the G'Day USA Excellence in Film award for his role as an actor, writer, director and, most recently, with a brilliant film – 'The Gift'. So these two immensely talented Australians will rightly be recognised by G'Day USA for their contribution not only to Australia's industries in the creative field, but also to our reputation as a nation that is able to hold its own in the very competitive world of entertainment.

So ladies and gentlemen I'm absolutely delighted to launch the 2016 G'Day USA program. Congratulations to QANTAS and what a great year you've had!

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