Saturday 7 December 2019
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Australian PM - 22 days ago

Remarks, Qantas Centenary Launch

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, Chris. Can I acknowledge the Gadigal people, elders past, present and emerging and any veterans who are here with us today. Can I particularly acknowledge also Alan Joyce and say welcome home. Thank you for flying Qantas. To Richard Goyder, a great champion of Australian business, a great business leader and now as Chair of Qantas. To Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Opposition who shares a passion for this airline like I do and we re both pleased to be here together to mark this important day. George Brandis, our High Commissioner, I ve never seen you look that good getting off a flight that long, George, great to see you. To Ross MacDiarmid also, CEO of the Royal Australian Mint who has played a special role here today in the way we ll be celebrating this important hundred years. And Michael Daley, state member for Maroubra, Council members and the Mayor of Longreach.  But more importantly, to all the employees of Qantas who are here today, a big welcome to you and I m so pleased to be standing here with you, meeting so many of you and seeing your great enthusiasm. There are 1,800 Qantas employees - I’ve got to say, this is a bit like an electorate visit for me because there are 1,800 people who work for Qantas who live in my electorate in southern Sydney. So to all of those of you, a special welcome here today. A few Sharkies fans and St. George fans amongst them, I suspect as well. But wherever you live and you re working for Qantas, you re working for one of the biggest employers in the country. Some 28,000 employees and their families rely on this amazing Australian airline. It s more than a brand. It s more than a list of destinations. Since its start, Qantas has always been a reflection of who we are as Australians. Reliable, dependable, innovative, outward-looking, confident about who we are and our place in the world. It is no wonder that when people think of the images of Australia, particularly from overseas, it is the Qantas kangaroo that they think of so often when they think about Australia. And it s not just because it s a great airline. It s also because Qantas has always encapsulated not only the brand of its airline, but the brand of Australia as well. The two sit so neatly together. And of course, Australia sees itself as part of this bigger world. And why wouldn t we be such a bridge? After all, we are the most successful multicultural and immigrant nation on earth today and you can see that in the Qantas staff who can communicate in some 54 different languages around the world as part of this great airline.  For the last century, Qantas has been an integral part of our journey as a nation. Today we are revelling in the possibilities of Project Sunrise. And I think for so many Australians, it s the optimism of Qantas, from its first days to this, always seeing the opportunities going ahead before them and chasing them with such passion that I think inspires Australians so much. It cost 244 quid to fly to London back in the 30s - half a year s wages. 19 hours, today it s been done. It took 269 hours or more on those four flights over 12 days. You hopped on five different types of planes operated by three separate airlines, and it included train links through the French and Italian countryside. And by the end, you felt every single one of those 12,754 miles. Today, we have seen the world shrunk by what Qantas has achieved here in this amazing flight and where they re looking to go in the future. But on a day like today, we re also reminded of Qantas s origins. I remember one of my first flights as a young fellow was with my brother and we flew out to Cloncurry on what is now Qantas but was then Australian Airlines, stopping down at every single town along the way. But it is in that town of Cloncurry where the Reverend John Flynn is remembered in a wonderful little museum there in the town of Cloncurry and the launch of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. During the Second World War, Qantas helped evacuate civilians from Singapore. The Skippy Squadron took our troops safely to and from Vietnam. You helped evacuate Darwin during Cyclone Tracy. After the 2002 Bali bombing, you sent nine special flights flying in medical supplies and returning some 5,000 Australians, including some of our worst burns victims. And this week, as Richard remind us all, you helped move 1,200 brave Australian and overseas firefighters around our country along the New South Wales and Queensland districts to ensure that they could get out there and fight some of the worst fires we’ve ever seen in this country.  So Qantas is the best of Australia and they re always there when we are facing our most difficult and worst of circumstances. And so we thank you very much for that ongoing service to our country. At one of those times, there was the catastrophic mechanical failure on a flight carrying 440 passengers and 29 crew, Flight QF32 back in November 2010, from London to Sydney via Singapore. And Captain Richard de Crespigny was asked where did his thoughts and faith turn on that remarkable day? He said, “They turned to the elements of resilience in my airline. We repeatedly trained people to produce the most fantastic crews and support organisations in the world. I m incredibly proud of all the teams in my airline.” He said, “That got all those passengers, not just down on the ground but home.” He said, “That is not luck. My airline has spent the money and we ve done the hard work.”  So that is Qantas at its best even in the most difficult time. And to you, Alan, and to all of your amazing employees and I know all of the subcontractors as well, those small and medium-sized businesses who make Qantas a great airline as well, we thank you very much for everything. So happy birthday Qantas, and good luck with the next speaker who has to speak over that.

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