Welcome to Australia Day, marking 227 years since the establishment of the first settlement at Port Jackson, on the east coast of Australia, in 1788.
Australia Day is an occasion for Australians to reflect on our history and to celebrate the diverse, multicultural Australia of today. It encourages us to appreciate the contributions of our ancestors, and also to welcome our newest citizens.
Australia is a country of striking landscapes, a rich ancient culture and one of the world's strongest economies. It is the sixth-largest country in land area, and the only nation to govern an entire continent. With a spectacular natural environment, high quality of life and great diversity, Australia is a favourite destination for international tourists. It has ten per cent of the world's biodiversity, and a great number of its native plants and animals exist nowhere else on earth. From tropical rainforests in the north to the red deserts of the centre, from the snowfields of the south-east to the Australian Antarctic Territory, it is a vast and varied land. Australia has many World Heritage sites including Fossil Mammal Sites, the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in Melbourne.
Australia is home to one of the world's oldest living cultures, with Aboriginal communities established nearly 60,000 years before European settlement. Today, Australia is one of the world's most multicultural countries, rich in indigenous and immigrant cultures. Australia is a successful and prosperous nation, ranked second in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report 2014.
Australia's economy is in its 23rd year of continuous growth, and is consistently ranked among the strongest of advanced economies in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is the world's twelfth largest economy, the fourth largest in Asia and a top performing nation on almost every measure of excellence, from health to wealth, from ease of doing business to educational attainment.
With low unemployment, low inflation and a highly skilled workforce, and with strong links with the fastest-growing region in the world, the Indo-Pacific, Australia's economy is set to prosper well into the future. Australia is a nation of boundless opportunity in a country of endless potential—a nation that is 'open for business'.
Australia's foreign and trade policy promotes its security and long-term prosperity. It seeks to protect and advance its national interests in a rapidly changing environment, while supporting a stable global order. Australia has been integrally involved in global efforts to build peace and security for decades, just as it has in promoting global trade and investment liberalisation. Australia is a good international citizen, helping in times of crisis and supporting economic development in its region.
Here in Kuwait, as we approach the 24th commemoration of Liberation, we should reflect on the strength of our bilateral relations. Australia remains a firm supporter of Kuwait’s independence and security. Our armed forces were proud to stand alongside Kuwaitis during liberation.
Our trade relationship is substantial and long-standing: two-way trade totals more than a billion dollars per annum. Kuwait is an important market for Australian exports of passenger motor vehicles, livestock, food products and educational services. Kuwaiti investment in Australia totals around $8 billion.
The Australian College Kuwait and Box Hill College, and the 1,500 students from Kuwait attending Australian universities, are building personal links between our societies.
Australia today is an open, tolerant and prosperous society. It is also one of the oldest continuous democracies in the world, and a pioneer in democratic reforms such as ‘one citizen, one vote’, secret ballots, and women’s suffrage which underpin the electoral practices of modern democracies.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on the forthcoming occasion of the 54th National Day of Kuwait, the 24th Anniversary of Liberation and the 9th Anniversary of the Amir’s accession; and also to express my appreciation for their encouragement and support of our bilateral relationship.