Speech given by the Governor at the Consular Corps Australia Day Reception
First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we are gathering and I pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to any Elders here with us.
Tony and I are delighted that alongside the members of our Consular Corps, we are joined by government representatives, representatives from our hospitality sector and food writers. You are all welcome.
Thinking back, it was the cancellation of the Consular Corps dinner we were about to enjoy together early last year that, for many of us, marked the beginning of the rigours that the world has been enduring.
It means that we now have a heightened appreciation of being able to gather together. I am sure you will all agree that virtual meetings have been a blessing, enabling us to stay in touch and to get things done but, overall, they can never fully meet our desire to be with each other.
So, starting this new year with you here at Government House, relaxing and sharing friendship, feels wonderful.
And welcoming Victorian producers of some of our finest food and beverages is a special treat for us all. They are bound to add to the conviviality, but I am also pleased for the opportunity to congratulate them for how they have risen to the exceptional challenges of the past year.
Despite devastating bushfires and a global pandemic, they have succeeded in maintaining a secure supply chain of premium produce. We thank them for their skill and resilience.
We also take the opportunity to thank you, our Consular Corps, for the role so many of you have undertaken in regional Victoria across this time. Over and again, we have heard of the support that you offered in the communities most adversely affected by the fires. Thank you for extending the hand of friendship in that way.
Well, if ever we needed proof that our world is truly a globalised village, this pandemic has delivered that to us. In this interconnected world, we have seen how fast the virus spreads and how it fails to respect borders.
Although fortunate compared to so many parts of the world, we have seen many Victorians suffer.
It is in hard times that we see the true value of friendships and, again, we are profoundly grateful to each one of you for walking with us throughout this challenging time, made the more difficult for you, many of you away from your families, your friends and your countries, particularly when some have been so hard hit.
Whilst we continue to grapple with the public health implications, economic recovery is also an important focus for us all.
Here in Victoria, we know there is much hard work ahead. But I am optimistic.
Victoria entered the pandemic with the strongest economy in Australia, and more than a quarter century of year on year growth. I am confident that the cleverness, hard work and innovation that underpinned our successes are still with us, and will serve us well in our recovery.
Our endeavours will be directed to areas as diverse as renewable energy, education, e-commerce, technology, infrastructure, biomedical research and agriculture – amongst others.
Already, our economy is showing favourable signs, but we know that we certainly cannot go it alone. We need to work with each other. Never will collaboration between us be more important than as we set about rebuilding our respective economies.
Medical researchers have shown us that more clearly than ever this year. How grateful we can all be to the world’s brilliant and dedicated scientists who have worked tirelessly to find ways to protect us. And although we can be proud here in Victoria of, for example, the role of the Doherty Institute in identifying the genomic sequencing of the virus, and our CSL’s role in largescale manufacturing of the vaccine, we have seen clearly that no country has been able to solve this health crisis alone. Cross-border collaboration has been essential to success.
We look forward to many mutually beneficial collaborations between us.
But, for now, there is only one important task. That is to relax and enjoy each other’s company, as we also enjoy sampling the local produce.
We look forward to meeting those of you who have joined us in Victoria since we were last together. We also think fondly this evening of those who have returned home or to other postings during that time.
We extend thanks to Consul-General Matsunaga for his time here as Dean of the Consular Corps, and we welcome Consul-General Ziad Itani as the new Dean.
And of course we thank the hard-working Trent Smyth who continues to contribute so much to the collegiate success of this group.
Finally, as we approach Australia Day, this is an opportunity to wish all of you, and your families, good health and well being. May they and your countries flourish.
May 2021 be a better year for us all!