Well thank you very much. It is wonderful to welcome Prime Minister Lee and his wife Ho Ching to our Parliament, to our capital and to our nation.
Both of them are great friends of Australia over many years. And what Prime Minister…it must be one of the warmest addresses in our Parliament. You described how you came here as a teenager and uncertain as to Australia custom put on a tie before coming to dinner. You were of course invited to take it off and we did agree a moment ago that particularly if you are 19 years of age and visiting people's homes, it is probably better to be asked to take the tie off than to be reminded to put one on. It showed a very classically Singaporean thoughtfulness, courtesy and pragmatic planning ahead. Of course your wife Ho Ching is the Chief Executive of Temasek Holdings, which is one of the largest investment institutions in the world and it has very significant commercial interests and holdings here in Australia.
Your visit marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of our two nations. As I said in the Parliament this morning, Australia and Singapore already enjoy a very strong friendship. But through the comprehensive, strategic partnership entered into last year, as we noted by yourself and Prime Minister Abbott, your BBQ’ing partner, that you regaled us with, we have signalled our commitment to even deeper levels of cooperation and integration. Now we see that commitment come to fruition.
The agreements our governments will formalise tomorrow are the culmination of months of hard work between our Ministers and our officials. There are so many people in this room, from Australia and from Singapore, who have contributed to the strength of that relationship. But I must single out in particular, our former Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, who joins us today. Andrew, your tenacity, your vision, your commitment has made all of this possible.
I also want to thank the Singaporean Ministers for Foreign Affairs for Defence and for Trade and Members of the Singaporean Parliament who are accompanying Prime Minister Lee on this visit and we welcome you all very warmly to our capital.
Prime Minister Lee and I share a common ambition to ensure our countries are more innovative, more productive, more competitive. I value enormously his counsel on regional affairs, to which he brings the wisdom of many years in government and leadership, the wisdom of a universally respected statesman.
I want to also thank Prime Minister Lee for the example that he and his fellow Singaporeans show us all the time in the way they embrace technology, the way they embrace innovation, the way they see the challenges of the 21st century clear-eyed. Not as they think the world might or as they fondly imagine it once was, or how they would imagine it to be. This realism, this agility, this resilience of Singapore, at every level of policy and of business is something that we admire. I want to thank you too Prime Minister, Lucy and I especially want to thank you, too, for the very thorough and systematic pro-natalist policies that you in Singapore. You are always encouraging Singaporeans to get married and have children and we do attribute our grand-daughter Isla who you warmly mentioned in your address in the parliament to the very far sighted policies of the Singaporean Government when you added SG 50 to her name. Thank you very much.
Now I would invite the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Bill Shorten to support my remarks of welcome.