A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at Parliament House, Canberra
Published 24 April 2014
We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly.
Prime Minister, Mr President, Madam Speaker, Chief Justice, Leader of the Opposition, Ministers and Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen thank you for your truly warm welcome.
When Catherine and I arrived in Sydney last week, I said how much we had been looking forward to this visit. Drawing on my own experience, I told Catherine that it would be wonderful, and so it has been. Anticipation has become deep admiration.
There is so much to admire about Australia. Catherine and I acknowledge the timeless values of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They have been the custodians of this ancient and majestic continent for thousands of years. The Traditional Owners’ stories, and the magnificent and moving rock art at Uluru, which we saw for ourselves, are a priceless inheritance. They tell us not just about the past but provide a precious vision for the future.
Catherine and I had the privilege earlier this week of visiting Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, which is committed through conservation to just such custodianship. And I know, too, how important Australian support has been for the global consortium, United for Wildlife, which is fighting the scourge of the illegal trade in wildlife, and poaching, something very close to my heart.
Australia has a quality of life and a level of excellence that makes it a magnet: an enormously attractive place to live, trade, invest, and indeed just visit. The arts and sciences flourish; Australian sporting success is legendary; agriculture from the traditional to the technologically most advanced is hugely successful. This is a country that is in the front rank internationally.
We have both seen all this for ourselves. Australia may be known as “the Lucky Country”, but often the harder you work, the luckier you get. Australians make their own luck. The distinct Aussie formula that has fashioned such a dynamic society is the source of admiration and envy around the world.
What Australia has achieved goes much wider than Australia itself. The last thirty years have seen the rise of the Asia-Pacific region. In a short time, it has become an economic power house with huge consequences for the whole world order. The Asia-Pacific region is now a key actor sometimes the key actor in confronting many of the global challenges of the twenty first century. It is enormously important and reassuring that Australia is at the heart not just of its own success but of the wider regional story, too. Australia is a champion of justice and economic and political freedoms. Australia plays an invaluable role in building an open and peaceful Asia-Pacific for the benefit of all.
Over the years, Australians have fought bravely for freedom in numerous conflicts. As those who were involved pass on, succeeding generations must remember and keep vivid the sacrifice they made. Catherine and I look forward to paying tribute to them at tomorrow’s ANZAC Day commemoration; and with my brother Harry to taking part in next year’s Gallipoli centenary.
Reluctantly, Catherine, George and I leave Australia tomorrow. Thank you for the warmth and generosity that has been shown to us during our visit. We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly. We greatly look forward to coming back. And when we do return, it will be to marvel again at all that Australia is, and will yet become.