Well thank you very very much. Can I start by acknowledging Consul General Anne Jalando-on Luois; my Federal parliamentary colleague, Julie Owens; State colleagues Geoff Lee and Michael Daley; many distinguished guests; Mayor, councillors, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to once again join you here at Fiesta Kultura. I am very pleased to be representing the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull here today, who sends the following message:
“I am delighted to send my best wishes to everyone involved with the 28th Grand Fiesta Kultura, the biggest and longest-running Filipino festival in Australia.
From impressive beginnings back in 1989, it has become a remarkable public event dedicated to celebrating Filipino food and culture within a vast carnival setting.
Fiesta Kultura is about building friendships and welcoming diversity, at the same time as raising money for some wonderful causes in a generous spirit of “bayanihan”.
It is also about recognising the strong bilateral links shared by Australia and the Philippines, and boosting trade and tourism between our two great nations.
I pay tribute to everyone who has worked hard to make the 28th Grand Fiesta Kultura a success, and I hope you have an enjoyable day.”
Bigger and better every year, Fiesta truly is a highlight not just for the Filipino-Australian community, but for Western Sydney, thanks to the hard work and effort of the Philippine Australia Sports and Culture Association and in particular your President, my dear friend Lolita Farmer, to your past President Manny Castillo and to all the team who have seen and worked so hard to make sure that this event has grown bigger and bigger every year.
It is also a testament to the strength of the Filipino-Australian community: a community that is amongst the fastest growing migrant community in Australia; that has doubled in size in 15 years to be heading toward 300,000 people today and a community that is making a strong contribution at every level of this country.
This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the Governments of Australia and the Philippines.
There have been great celebrations, particularly in our embassy in Manila and in Canberra. Our 70th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate contemporary Philippine-Australian relations.
Today our countries are good friends, who share common perspectives on many regional, economic and security issues.
We cooperate in many forums to push for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, including in ASEAN, which the Philippines will chair in 2017.
Our anniversary is also an opportunity to look to the future and think about how we can take our relationship to the next level.
I have changed roles since I was last at Fiesta Kultura. As Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, I and my Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will be working closely with the Philippine Government to take our economic partnership forward.
I am particularly excited to work on programs that use our contemporary economic strengths to create opportunity for Filipinos.
Our $81.9 million dollar aid program in 2016-17 in the Philippines is focussed on exactly this theme, creating opportunity.
Last year, Australia’s support enabled 76,000 children to be in school for the very first time, an opportunity that was otherwise out of reach for these families.
Our support for the next generation of women leaders in the Philippines has delivered training and mentoring to ensure that all Filipinos have a voice in Government and society.
And the team at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has been working to create opportunities for Filipino farmers and fishing communities for over 30 years through supporting global agricultural research heavyweights like the International Rice Research Institute based in Los Baños, South of Manila, to ensure rice production is stable and sustainable, not just for the people of the Philippines, but across the world.
Australia also works in close partnership with the Government of the Philippines to help support good governance and stability that allows prosperity to flourish throughout the Filipino society.
We work to create opportunities to boost trade between our countries.
Our economic relationship is growing and I am sure as we see the great variety of stalls on display for the trade expo here today, there is great potential for that to grow even further.
Can I conclude by thanking you once again for welcoming me to Fiesta Kultura, for inviting the Australian Government to be present here today and can I conclude by wishing all the contestants for the Miss Philippines quest all the very very best of luck. Have a wonderful day. Thank you.
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