Australian High Commission
United Kingdom

Remarks by the High Commissioner at the Qantas Spirit of Australia Day Dinner

Andaz Hotel

London, United Kingdom

23 January 2020 at 8.10pm GMT

E&OE

HIS EXCELLENCY THE HONOURABLE GEORGE BRANDIS QC: Thank you very much Anna.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

I can’t tell you what an absolute joy it is for me to be attending my first Qantas Spirit of Australia Dinner here in London.

This dinner comes at a particular significant point in time for two reasons.

The first, obviously, is that this is the year in which we celebrate the centenary of Qantas.

What a remarkable and romantic story it is!

100 years ago, a small number of pioneers in a little town in Longreach gathered together and formed a company -- the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service. For those of you wondering wondered what Qantas stood for – it is an acronym!

And from those extraordinarily humble beginnings, one tiny propeller aircraft grew to become one of the most successful, enduring and respected airlines in the world -- which was once again voted the world’s safest airline.

Of course Qantas is so much more than just an airline – this company is an Australian institution and its logo is the Spirit of Australia, when you reflect on that point, I can’t think of any other major Australian corporation that could claim to call itself the Spirit of Australia.

Yet Qantas does and people get that, because this company is a body of men and women that, for many generations, including Adam’s father, has been so much a part of Australia’s history.

Qantas is the Spirit of Australia for another reason too. I said a moment ago that this evening comes at two significant points in time. The second, which Anna already touched on, concerns the events of the last few weeks when Australia suffered very severe bushfire conditions this summer. While we suffer bushfires every summer, these are more severe than before.

Qantas was absolutely at the forefront in responding to and alleviating the needs of those affected and addressing the crisis. They didn’t have to be asked, because Qantas has always been an outstanding corporate citizen.

We hear a lot of talk of corporate social responsibility.

Can I tell you ladies and gentlemen, in Australia, this particular company is the gold standard of an outstanding corporate citizen. The way Qantas and its people rallied to help civil authorities address the bushfire crisis was magnificent.

I want to add my words to Adam’s words about the importance of people in the tourism industry appreciating that the events which occurred are events more severe than before but not unfamiliar.

Australia is open for business.

And of all the characteristics associated with Australians -- we Australians like to think of ourselves as friendly, welcoming, irreverent, funny -- everything you associate with Adam!

More than anything else we are resilient, a resilient land and a resilient people.

To the tourism industry here in London – don’t be deterred by the stories you have seen in the media about the crisis we have undergone.

The green shoots are already there.

Australian tourism is absolutely back in business.

So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. To celebrate Australia Day which occurs on Sunday. To celebrate Qantas, and in doing so, celebrating Australia and this wonderful Australian institution.

Happy Australia Day.