Julie and the small entourage [80 heads of mission] that you have with you for the next couple of days. To my Parliamentary colleagues, Steve and Eric, Brett, Lisa, distinguished guests, excellencies.

What an iimportant programme. Julie [Bishop] describes it as a government signature programme, really it is a Julie Bishop signature programme and you should be congratulated for having the concept of bringing this to government following the 2013 election.

I’ve had the opportunity since coming to the international education portfolio to travel quite extensively and to meet with a number of ministers of education in the region. We are still reaping the dividends of the regional Colombo Plan from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. We will without question reap the dividends of the New Colombo Plan for decades to come.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that an international education opportunity is a life changing one, it is a generational one. The number of people that I’ve spoken to in senior positions internationally who not only came here for an education themselves but sent their children here for an education as well, is quite considerable.

I think the thing that strikes me is that you never know where you will end up. I met a woman in Indonesia when I was there in Jakarta in November who was the University of Tasmania’s first everI female engineering graduate in 1963. She went on to run Telcom Indonesia which is an extraordinary achievement from my point, from the original Colombo Plan. Who knows where you [Emily Forsyth] might end up and all of the other alumni here.

I think it’s fantastic that after such a short time we have so many alumni who’ve come from all over Tasmania, not just Hobart to be with us here tonight.

Julie and I will launch on Saturday the International Education Strategy, but also our Global Alumni Strategy which starts to draw together the strings of what Julie mentioned before about our engagement with alumni globally and the power of those people.

I met a woman in Dubai when I was there in January, who is credited with sending 47 students to Australia because of her experience here as an international student. It is really quite powerful and I’ve spoken with the Vice Chancellor before about my meeting with the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands late last year, who is also an alumni of the University of Tasmania that has family members living in Moonah. So the connections just continue to remain and they will, so it is a life-long and it is a generational experience.

So Julie, I think in launching the alumni programme here in Tassie, congratulations should go to you for your vision in pulling it together - and the lasting benefits for all of those who participate in it and I congratulate all of those of you who have taken the opportunity to undertake that international education experience.

It will continue to pay dividends for you and for our country for a long, long time in the future. So it’s a real pleasure to be here today to be a part of this launch, to congratulate you on your achievements, but to wish you well and to let you know that we want to remain engaged with you into the future. And you have a bit of a job to do if you’re going to catch up with that lady in Dubai who’s sent 47 students to follow in her path.

Congratulations for being here and thank you for participating in tonight’s’ launch.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (03) 6424 5960
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555