Remarks at the Community Event at Australian International School

12 Nov 2017
Hong Kong
Prime Minister
International and Trade

PRIME MINISTER:  Thank you very much for that warm welcome.

Thank you Toby and Alison and Michael and Kaitlyn, the head boys and girls, for welcoming me here to your school.

What an extraordinary achievement in 22 years, to go from 25 students to the over 1100 now.

It is a testament to the determination and the passion of the founders of the school, the staff and the parents, but you know it also speaks of the enormous presence of Australians here in Hong Kong.

With a by-election underway in New England and one pending in Bennelong, I naturally am well aware that Hong Kong is the second largest polling booth in the Australian electoral system. The largest of course being in London. But over 100,000 Australians here in Hong Kong.

I’d say that this is, Hong Kong is a city where Australians feel and have always felt at home. And it is a question of family.

We were just talking with Alison and Toby about how long their families have been here.

Alison’s family lives, comes, she is a Hong Kong family, with a great Australian connection.

Toby’s parents, he said, have been here for 4 years or so.

Our own daughter in law, Wang Yi Wen, Yvonne was born in Hong Kong – and actually went to the St Paul’s Primary School opposite the racecourse in Happy Valley.

So many warm family connections. Australians feel thoroughly at home in Hong Kong and so many thousands, tens of thousands of people from Hong Kong, and hundreds of thousands of people of Chinese ancestry of course call Australia home.

It is a fantastic connection and I am looking forward to meeting Chief Executive Carrie Lam shortly and as I saw her in Da Nang, to recognise and celebrate the success of Hong Kong - ‘One Country, Two Systems’, commitment to the rule of law and independent judiciary, all of that, all of those values and principles of what has enabled the extraordinary success of this city.

I want to make a special reference here to the great work of the Fred Hollows Foundation, and in particular, Dr Godfrey Lam who was mentored by Fred and is now advising the Fred Hollows Foundation and its wonderful work in China.

I thank you all for coming out here on Sunday. I am honoured by your presence and I support and look forward to having a chat to many more of you in a moment but also thank you for coming here to help raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Let’s talk about some of the other great family stories here.

Joan Leong from the Nomchong Family is here today with her daughter Jacquie.

Joan, I’ll come over and have a chat in a moment but we are so honoured that you are here. You embody and your family embody the strength and the ties, the history between Australia and Hong Kong.

Your family came to Australia in 1840s in the gold rushes, settled in New South Wales, came with very little but a great pioneering spirit and thrived. And your story, your family story, that of your whole family is remarkable.

Your daughter Jacquie has made an extraordinary contribution to the Australian Association here in Hong Kong. Jacquie, congratulations. And Jacquie, I escaped the law in my youth, but you didn’t and you went on to become the first woman to be Chair of the Bar in an English common law jurisdiction, here in Hong Kong. Congratulations.

I have just come here from APEC where we reaffirmed our commitment to the free trade, the open markets that underpin the prosperity in our region.

We will now move on to Manila. We’ll be talking at the East Asia Summit focusing on security issues, regional security, addressing the threat from North Korea and of course the threat throughout the region of terrorism.

Free trade, open markets, the rule of law. The rule of law, fundamental to the stability and the prosperity of our region and the security that enables it. Never in conflict, security enables the rule of law and it is the rule of law alone that can justify the security, whether it is at home or abroad, that enables us to pull together in defence of our values.

So, thank you very much for being here.

I want to say to you that I am so moved by your singing of the national anthem.

It is always a proud moment as Prime Minister to sing the national anthem and to hear young voices sing the national anthem, but here in Hong Kong, what you’re speaking about here, what you’re reminding us of is Australia’s presence in the world, and this – Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world and its success is because of you. It is because of you.

Our greatest assets are not under the ground, they are walking around on top of it and walking around the whole world. Australians are great global citizens. You embody that. You’re building on that. Everything you do here in Hong Kong is advancing Australia just as you sang.

Thank you very much. God bless. Advance Australia. Thank you.