Lighting Ceremony, Australian Embassy

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you Ambassador, I'm delightedto be here today in Washington, for there are few countries with a closerrelationship than Australia and the United States. We are partners, we areallies, we are friends. We fought side by side in World War One, on the WesternFront and we have fought together in every major conflict since thattime. It was in February 1940 that then Prime Minister Robert Menziessent his Ambassador Richard Casey, to Washington, and this was the first timethat Australia had a diplomatic mission outside Australia House in London.Richard Casey operated the mission from the residence known as 'White Oaks',which still houses our Australian Ambassadorial residence today. But it was in1946 that we purchased our first embassy buildings here in Washington. Thisbuilding was constructed in the LBJ, the Johnson Administration period, and ithas occupied this prominent and significant and historic site ever since, asbefitting the relationship between Australia and the United States.

About five years ago, as AmbassadorHockey said, the building was damaged by an earthquake, and it is well andtruly past its use-by-date. We had to erect this scaffolding, andunfortunately, the scaffolding will have to remain until work can begin on our newembassy on this site. The design we have for the new embassy is befitting thevery best that Australia has to offer in terms of design, aesthetics, and willbe an entirely appropriate embassy on this entirely prominent and significantsite. I did spend some time with US representatives today, and from VicePresident Mike Pence down, each one of them expressed a desire to visitAustralia, or revisit Australia, and so this is an encouragement to all thosein Washington and visitors to Washington to visit Australia.

I want to thank our friends atQantas – thank you Steve for being here, for supporting our efforts to attractmore tourists to Australia by sponsoring our banner and the illumination sothat day or night, people can see Australia and think about Australia. Qantashas been a founding partner with G'Day USA, that is our public diplomacy andcultural diplomacy event that we hold each year in the United States. Qantas isnot only one of the oldest airlines in the world, it's one of the safest. Againthis year, Qantas was ranked number one in terms of safety by the IndependentAirline Ratings site. So with the assistance of Qantas, we are bringing alittle more of Australia to Embassy Row, and I now have the opportunity to ….turn on the lights, Australia Embassy Row, Washington, and so to the 35000 carsthat pass by, come visit Australia!

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