Bill's Speeches








I’m delighted that former Prime Minister Bob Hawke could be here – along with the former Minister for Immigration in the Keating Government, Nick Bolkus.

Bob, Nick, all of us know that tonight would not have been possible without your vision, compassion and decency.

It’s a pleasure to be with you tonight – and to be able to wish so many members of the Chinese-Australian Community a Happy New Year.

Or, if you’ll forgive my pronunciation:

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

It’s an honour to be here for the launch Australia: Our Extended Dreams for the Australia Pacific Media Group.

Tonight I am breaking the habit of a political lifetime.

Because I normally never agree to speak at a book launch unless I’ve read the book myself.

But when I discovered this particular volume is around 800 pages long – and in characters – I decided that it would be ok if I made a few general remarks.

As Australians everywhere celebrate the colour and movement of the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival.

We give thanks for the contribution of thousands of Chinese-Australians to the peaceful, multicultural society we love.

Tonight is also a celebration of the transformation China has achieved.

Historic levels of economic growth and trade liberalisation have been accompanied by real and important progress in the advancement of political freedoms and the rule of law.

Tens of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty – and given new opportunities at a longer, happier and healthier life.

Australia’s strong relationship with China, established by the great Gough Whitlam in 1972, means that we have been both a witness to, and a beneficiary of, this more free and prosperous China.

And one of our greatest national assets, one of our best conduits to China and all the opportunities it holds are the thousands of Chinese immigrants who have made their home here.

In the pages of this new book, we are reminded of the rich and varied contribution your generation of Chinese-Australians have made to our society.

You’ve opened the doors of our universities to your region, and given governments a new sense of the opportunities that a world-class tertiary education system can bring Australia.

You’ve worked the late hours and holiday shifts, driving taxis and stacking shelves.

You have been the entrepreneurs and the risk-takers.

You’ve opened restaurants, law firms, market gardens and corner stores– creating jobs and building national prosperity.

You have added your cultural energy to ours – and enriched our national identity.

Above all, this book reminds us that for all the statistics and data, the only number that has ever mattered in our immigration story is one.

If one life is made better by the embrace of our peaceful and tolerant democracy, then we can know that we have done our job.

If one person can find new happiness and opportunity here – then we have fulfilled our founding promise as the land of the fair go and the better chance.

If one person can add their history, their faith, their culture, their beliefs to our complex and diverse nation – then all of us are enriched.

Tonight we also celebrate another auspicious 20th anniversary – and I congratulate everyone involved with the Pacific Media Group.

For so many Chinese-Australians who have started again here in Australia, you have been more than just a source of news.

You have been a familiar comfort in an unfamiliar land.

A link with the life left behind and an insight into the new world of the Chinese-Australian community.

I congratulate you for what you have achieved – I thank you for the pleasure you have given so many and I wish you all the very best in the years ahead.

I close by saying that I believe Australia: Our Extended Dreams will, in years to come, be seen as a tribute to all of you who have made the choice to embrace our country as your new home.

Our country is a bigger, better, brighter, smarter and happier place for your presence.

And all of us are delighted that you decided to stay.

I wish Australia: Our Extended Dreams all the very best on its journey into history.

Thank you and good evening