REMARKS TO THE DINNER FOR PRESIDENT XI
MONDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2014
GREAT HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.
President Xi, Madame Peng, Prime Minister Abbott, Mrs Abbott, Parliamentary colleagues and distinguished guests.
I can report Mr President that you have here assembled here some of the best and brightest of our national life: leaders from business, the arts, culture, industry, all with a shared goal and a common destiny.
New bonds, deeper engagement and stronger people-to-people links between China and Australia.
Thank you, Mr President, for your fine speech to our parliament today, as the Prime Minister has said, and indeed subsequent productive discussions this afternoon.
Your speech had many high points:
- Your vision for the ‘Chinese dream’
- Your re-affirmation of China’s belief in peace
- And your commitment to an always honest, always constructive relationship between our two nations
But above all else, I think every Australian would have been deeply touched by the genuine affection and regard that you’ve shown for Australia.
Our people, our landscape…even our native wildlife, who also got to have bilateral meeting with you today.
Tonight, here, in our Great Hall, we cast back our minds to a moment, in your Great Hall of the People, when Gough Whitlam, more than forty years ago, first reached out the hand of Australian friendship to your nation.
He called China a ‘proud and purposeful nation’ destined to return to its former greatness in the councils of the world.
Of this recognition, and this aspiration, this grand hope, Whitlam said:
Australia can play a significant part in helping China fulfil its destiny as a leader in international co-operation.
And I acknowledge the bipartisan commitment to Whitlam’s vision has continued through governments of various hues right up to today’s announcement by Prime Minister Abbott.
As I recalled today, my first experience of China was as a twenty-four-year-old backpacker, deeply uncertain of what I would find as I explored western China.
Since then, I’ve been back, as a workers’ representative, as a Parliamentary Secretary, and as a Minister.
Every time I return, like all of you who have travelled to China, we see new buildings against the skyline, we travel on new bullet trains, we inspect vast fields of solar panels and wind turbines – everywhere new signs, new symbols, new proud emblems of a more confident, more prosperous China.
A China embracing its responsibility to the world’s largest middle class, growing exponentially into new wealth, new creative energy and purpose every year.
Like all Australians I’m glad that our country has been an ingredient in your astonishing transformation.
Aussie beef on your tables.
Australian barley in Chinese beer.
South Australian wool on Chinese looms.
Penfold’s wine in Chinese banquets.
Tasmanian salmon on the plates.
Tasmanian whiskey in Chinese bars.
Australian milk in Chinese supermarkets.
And one day soon, a new Australian destination on the Maritime silk road of China.
Our partnership uplifts us both. It balances our strengths. It draws out our best.
We’ve seen here, and in Brisbane at the G20, and in Beijing at APEC, a New China, internationally engaged.
A China with a great role in the world – a good international citizen, a multilateral leader, seeking co-operative solutions for the challenges of the future.
Whether that is tackling climate change or providing practical solutions to Asia’s infrastructure needs, helping deal with Ebola, combating corruption, reinvigorating global free trade or maintaining security in the region – it is always good for the global community when China is involved.
Because when know that when China sets a goal, you achieve it.
When opportunity knocks, China opens the door.
When the moment comes, China meets it and masters it.
When leadership is there, China is there, the best qualified to offer it.
This is the story of modern China.
It is a proud, unfolding story - with many inspiring, buoyant, chapters yet to be written.
Now, more than ever, Mr President, yours is a nation of destiny.
A ‘Chinese dream’ becoming reality for millions of people.
Mr President, you left us today with a powerful, lyrical image.
A friendship between Australia and China, as the Prime Minister has said, spanning mountains and oceans.
A bond as strong and as everlasting as two of our enduring national icons: the Great Wall and the mighty Uluru.
A partnership immune to storms, uncertainty or erosion.
Let that evocative metaphor guide us all on the journey ahead.
China and Australia: neighbours, partners and friends.
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