Monday, April 27, 2009

Kevin Rudd luncheon

On Friday I attended a luncheon with Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia. The lunch was hosted at one of Melbourne’s largest function centers, by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, with approximately 1200 guests. There were multiple large screens so that gustes could see a close up of the PM.
The luncheon was opened by Peter Cosgrove, former chief of the Australian armed forces, who discussed the General Sir John Monash Award – and presented one of the eight winners to speak. This is an award for Australia’s best and brightest – each of the 8 winners had multiple university degrees in firts class honours, spoke several languages, had worked overseas in high profile posts, and performed high profile volunteer work. In their spare time, several of them run marathons! The prize is a scholarship to complete a PhD at any University in the world. The award was a worthy investment in the future of the country – and the award winner noted she had been issued a challenge. During Kevin Rudd’s speech he later announced that the federal govt was giving $720,000 towards the 2010 prize (enabling 4 extra winners).
Sir John Monash was credited with being the first to commerate ANZAC day, in 1916. Much was said to honour him as a great Australian and very much a people’s leader within the armed forces.
Kevin Rudd opened his speech by reaffirming himself as a lifelong friend of Israel. He also publicly stated “I condemn the anti-semitic comments and sentiment made by the leader of Iran”. An interesting contrast to NZ’s Grant Robertson. He stated that Australia decided to pull out of Durban II, only when it was plainly obvious that Israel was going to be singled out in the conferences findings.
He then talked at length about GFC, and the local stimulus package.
At the G20 Summit, the 1929 depression was discussed – at that time it was noted that countries decided not to work together, but to try and protect their own interests, which made the depression longer and harder, ultimately culminating in the great war. The resolve for G20 was made for countries to work together such that each provided their own stimulus packages.
For Australia, he talked of the stimulus packages here as an investment for the future. By Upgrading Schools across the country, they intern stimulated the economy now, so that when recovery came, they would have the infrastructure to cope with the future’s demands.
A lot of Australian’s will take these statements with a grain of salt. I was not a citizen at the last election, nor do I have political affiliation, but I was very impressed by the speech. I will try and find if a full transcript is available.