Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - REMARKS AT HISTORIC PHILANTHROPIC CONTRIBUTION TO AUSTRALIA - CANBERRA - MONDAY, 22 MAY 2017

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Good morning everybody. 

I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. I pay my respects to elders, both past and present. 

They say in politics, in parliament, that every day is a new day. But this is a most surprising day today. 

What an exceptional act of generosity. 

I completely echo the comments of the Prime Minister in recognising this act of generosity.  

It reminds me of what the Reverend Martin Luther King said is ‘the most urgent and the most persistent question’ of life: ‘What are you doing for others?’ 

There can be no doubt Andrew, Nicola and Grace have answered this question, ‘what are you doing for others?’ in a most Forrest-like fashion.

It is beyond and without precedent, this act of generosity but is entirely within the character of the people making this amazing philanthropic statement. 

When you listen to the other speakers we've had the privilege to hear from today, you gain a greater understanding of what this donation means:

Support for those first thousand days of life. 

For action to make sure our first Australians can close the gap. 

Remarkable support for our arts and culture.

Because of the Forrest Family, we will have more Australian PhDs discovering more solutions to our lives. 

I have to say, listening to the discussion about modern slavery, I think a lot of us here, even though we theoretically know of this problem, to hear it first-hand and to hear a solution being offered was quite exceptional. 

And of course, the support for dealing with cancer, rightly known as the emperor of all maladies, this is a most remarkable morning.  

But what I think really sums up what we've seen today were the comments that Andrew made when he was honoured as West Australian of the Year, he said: 

The most generous form of giving, is giving your time.

That is very humble in the light of this most exceptional act of generosity.

But the reason why I finish on what Andrew said is that his is an invitation for all of us to follow. 

What he is saying is that he is in the fortunate position to make this most unprecedented statement of support for all of these causes. But he invites all of us to follow his example, and for all of us to give more of us so we can actually make this a better place. 

I think listening to the discussion about modern slavery in particular, I think that you have gone a long way to convincing all of the parliamentarians here that we most certainly need to look at updating our legislation to deal with that scourge. 

Thank you very much. This is one of those days where the Parliament steps up and goes beyond what it normally sees and does. 

And this will be a day which Australians and parliamentarians will remember for a very long time.  

Thank you very much.


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