Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you very much Bridget, welcome everyone. It’s wonderful to have you here at Kirribilli House. Can I particularly extend a very warm welcome to His Excellency the Governor-General who is here with us today. He is my neighbour, he has popped across. I was going for a swim yesterday afternoon and he said, “You got all those cricketers coming over tomorrow?” He was standing up on the balcony. I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Do you mind if I pop over?” I said, “Sure, that’s what neighbours do at this time of year when you have people around. So Your Excellency, it’s great to have you. High Commissioner, it’s wonderful to have you here. Consul-General, to Michael and Catherine, Deputy Prime Minister, thank you for being here today. Michael is an absolute cricket tragic, he is the one who you know keeps that spirit alive in our Government in particular and it’s great to have you both here, just come down from Queensland this morning. To Bridget and David, of course, to Marise Payne and Stuart Ayres - there’s fewer people more passionate about sport in New South Wales than Stuart Ayres, also the Sports Minister here in NSW - great to have you here with Marise. David and Dotte Coleman, the Minister for Immigration, thank you so much for coming.
Can I also particularly acknowledge all of the teams that are here today, both of them, and they will I think want to welcome a couple of legends of the game who are with us today. That’s of course Greg Chappell who is here, who I grew up watching, and Ravi Shastri of course, the coach of the Indian team. And there are few better than ‘Ooh Aah’, Glenn McGrath. Here he is. Glenn, it is wonderful to have you here today because you are not just here because you’re one of the greatest to ever play for Australia but you’re here because you have shown, I think, Australians that when you’ve achieved something remarkable in sport how you can translate that to an enormous gift to the Australian people that you have been able to do with the McGrath Foundation. So to Sara and to Glenn, we really appreciate having you here, and Holly as well who is head of the McGrath Foundation. Over 100 breast cancer nurses now right across the country. It is one of the organisations that I often refer to when I’m talking to people coming from overseas and they want to know about various organisations in the country. And it’s not just because he was born in the Shire but it is more to than that, it says so much about how in Australia we are able to link sport, the community of sport and to able to convert that into something, giving back to a community and to people who really need it. And Glenn is someone who have never forgotten where he is from, and to understand the challenges faced by women facing breast cancer in rural and regional areas, that’s something he knows about. In fact, when I was with Michael and we went up to Quilpie not long after I became Prime Minister, the family we met, the Tullys, they had had their own battle with breast cancer when we were there and they were very well aware of the McGrath Foundation and the work they do. So Glenn, it is wonderful to have you here.
I won’t go on too much today other than to say that this is a great tradition, having both of the teams, the Indian team and the Australian national team here together at Kirribilli House. It was something that was initiated by the first Prime Minister to make this his residence, John Howard, many years ago. And he was truly Australia’s greatest cricket tragic. And remains so to this day and he sends his apologies today. He was invited along today but he is away on holiday. But he wanted me to pass on his best wishes, and also from Jeanette. It’s also a great tradition of the Pink Test. The Pink Test has been completely embraced by Australians, particularly by Sydneysiders. And it’s going to be tremendous for those players who haven’t experienced it before who are visiting or even in our national team, you will be able to take part in something truly that is part of Australia’s both sporting calendar but also I think our cultural and community calendar. It’s a tremendous day that everyone gets involved in, we all don the pink as many of us have today and I think that’ll be tremendous.
It was Alfred Deakin, our second Prime Minister, who first talked about the relationship between Australia and India. He visited and he came back and he said that the distance will be diminished year by year between Australia and India. And that is no more true than where we are today. There is some - as David Coleman knows - there is some 700,000 people living in Australia today of Indian descent, and there is 87,000 Indian students here in Australia. Which explains all those cheers you can hear down at the G or anywhere else. There is a pretty big following when it comes to the Indian national team coming and playing here. And so it is a very strong people to people relationship. But the great thing about the relationship is it is built on shared values. We believe the same things. We have the same passions. And there is no greater example of that than our shared passion for cricket, our national game in both of our countries. And this particular exchange we have seen between our two teams over this Test Series has been enthralling. This is about the only time of the year I get to sit in front of the box and watch a bit of it, signing Christmas cards and doing those sorts of things as I enjoy doing over recent days and recent weeks. This series, despite the Australians loss in the Boxing Day Test, but to pick up the win in Perth and the first Test over in Adelaide, it has been an enthralling series. And I’ve got to tell you - particularly the Australia boys - when I was over in Iraq, visiting our troops, that was one of the first things that they wanted to know about. They wanted to know all about the Test and how that was going and what was going on back home when it came to the cricket. And the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has got a great history. Now, there is a lot to play for in this Test. There is a lot to play for. If the Indians can secure this Test Series, it’ll be their first win on Australian soil. So no pressure, no pressure.
But also, it is a great thing for the Australians to defend that record, and I am reliably informed that in the Border-Gavaskar Series going back now over 20 years, India has won 19, Australia has won 18 and there are 9 draws. So looking forward, Justin and Tim, to seeing that levelled off as we wrap up the Test Series here in Sydney.
Can I congratulate Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli for the way that your team have played in this Series and the great exhibition you have put on all around Australia. I think Australians have enjoyed it thoroughly and there is still a lot more to enjoy in what I understand will be a turning wicket. So Nathan, do you best mate. Do your best. Live up to that ‘GOAT’ nickname and ensure it turns to your favour.
But also, can I congratulate Justin and Tim. Leadership comes to you on occasions and you’ve got to step up. And in very difficult circumstances, to both Justin and Tim, I want to commend you for the way you have conducted yourselves, for the way that you have led your team and for the way you have stood up into the role into the role that you’ve been called on to play. And you’ve done it, I think, with tremendous humility, with a real sense of purpose and despite the challenges that have come your way, you have the best of Australian cricket in both of your roles and I’d like everyone to congratulate Tim and Justin.
So look, thank you all for coming today. I wish the players all the best in the coming days as we go into this last epic Test. It’ll be a great showcase for the game, it’ll be a great showcase for the talent on display. But most importantly, I think it’ll be a great showcase for the heart of Australians as they all reach out and they seek to support the McGrath Foundation, Glenn, in memory of Jane in particular, and I think everyone will be out there remembering here great legacy and a legacy that has been able to be lived on through the McGrath Foundation and particularly through the Pink Test. It is going to be a cracker. Thank you very much.