Well, thank you very, very much for your very kind introduction. 

To my Parliamentary colleagues, David Clarke and Greg Donnelly; to you, Anne - it’s a pleasure to join you, always; and the Filipino community; to the members of the consular corps who are with us; to you, Michael Brand, always a pleasure to visit this wonderful gallery.

It’s really good to be here to mark the birthday and the anniversary of the Filipino independence from Spain.

It’s also good to be here at the launch, effectively, of these two exhibitions. 

And I am sorry that I cannot be here for the fashion parade this afternoon, but Anne, myself being somebody who sews, I actually very much appreciate - and perhaps if I don’t see it today, I look forward to seeing it at another occasion and hearing the reports.

To take traditional crafts of weaving and to contemporise them is really, my view, the only way that we will be able to preserve them and so, so many cultures around the world are doing it and I congratulate you also.

Of course the Philippines is a fiercely independent nation, and one that does trace its roots back to 1898, and with support from the United States, it became independent.

Your history, of course, stretches far, far more than that.

But in many senses, what we think of today as the modern nation of the Philippines began 119 years ago, only three short years before this country, Australia, was formed out of the various British colonies established here.

That time – the end of the 19th Century – was so very different to our own.

The old European empires – although they certainly didn't know it – would be swept away over the next sixty years.

Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands had, between them, radically redrawn the global map over the previous four centuries.

But within two decades, that period of global history, the 'Age of Empires', would start to crumble in the crucible of the First World War.

And that world, where European nations saw themselves as utterly justified in taking and holding colonies all around the globe, would be replaced in the 20th Century by a global movement towards national independence and self-determination.

The Philippines was one of the first nations to assert itself against colonial rule, although it would be another half-century before it found its second independence, this time from the United States.

These days, Australia and the Philippines are part of a world of nation states.

Countries of all different types – some democratic, like our own; some not – but the map much more closely shows the real world of human culture than the old divisions of empire. 

Of course, Australia for our part, are very proud of the long tradition we have of working with our Filipino partners.

This is a country with which Australia has particularly strong ties.

Decades, now, of trade, of investment, of cultural exchange, of education, of tourism, of migration. 

300 diaspora here in Australia - the first, the second and the third generations that have contributed, who have integrated so well into our wonderful multicultural society, and that have enriched the fabric of that society. 

And we have many, many, many decades ahead of this very strong relationship.

Minister, our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited the Philippines in March and met with President Duterte in his home town of Davao.

And, of course, our significant development assistance - I am Minister for International Development and the Pacific - and of course we have an extensive development assistance program with the Philippines.

And in 2017-18, that’s $85 million that we are estimated will be spent in our overseas development program. 

Minister Bishop made two announcements when she visited the Philippines: $90 million for continuing education program Pathway to Peace, over nine years; and also an additional $40 million to support the peace process.

Of course, we are now the largest donor in education in the Philippines with a program that goes back fifteen years.

But in times of need, we have wanted to help the people of the Philippines.

When the typhoon Haiyan hit, the Australian public opened their hearts to support the people of the Philippines.

Most recently, we know that there have been humanitarian needs, and particularly those displaced by the conflict in Marawi city in Southern Philippines.

In June, the Foreign Minister announced providing food and other supplies of almost $1 million to help the urgent needs of over 300,000 displaced persons.

Of course as Consul, you mentioned, the issue of security.

And Australia, we have just announced, and the Philippine Government has just accepted, our offer to support the Philippines in its fight against terrorism in the Southern Philippines.

We have made support available in the form of surveillance, which has been accepted, and we will work with the Filipino Government to finalise those arrangements.  

The Philippines is an important partner for Australia - you are an important partner in the region for us, and we value the strong and long standing ties that we have with you.

Can I just say that, and reiterate, the commitment of the Australian Government to supporting the peace process and development in Mindanao.

Can I just conclude on a personal note, Anne, and as Minister for Multicultural Affairs I’ve had the opportunity to be with Anne at many different events.

Can I just say, Anne, you have made an outstanding contribution as Consul General here in Sydney.

You have represented your government, your people, and I’m sure that thousands in the community have benefitted from your warmth, from the work that you have done, but more than anything I think is from your approachable manner. 

Certainly, I think that you have really very much advanced the relationship between Australia and the Philippines.

You should be justly proud of your time here. 

We hope that maybe it might be extended!

But in any case, I really wanted to be here today to put on record my appreciation - my personal appreciation, but also the appreciation of the Australian Government - for the work that you have done to further the relationship between Australia and the Philippines.

Thank you for you kind attention.

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