Nov 15, 2019

Speech – Address to QANTAS Launch of Centenary Celebrations – Sydney – Friday, 15 November 2019



Well, thanks very much. And I think Prime Minister, you have now seen the power of government to be able to organise that plane just at the right time. So, congratulations.

Can I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respect to their elders, past and present.

To Alan Joyce and Richard Goyder, to the High Commissioner, to other guests including my friend, the Local Member, Michael Daley, who is here, and to all of the Qantas employees who are here.

I’m sure there are a few people from the Shire here. But let me tell you, there’s a few from the Inner West as well.

And they can yell louder than that.

It is indeed my great privilege and honour to be here, to be able to celebrate with this great Australian iconic company.

Dare I say it, and I say it on the record, the Australian iconic company. There is no company that you associate with this great nation more than when you see the flying kangaroo.

There is no greater pleasure having been overseas than thinking of coming home when you get on that Qantas plane, you see the uniform and you hear the accent and the welcome. It is very much a part of our national character.

And it is a national character that began 100 years ago, began much more humbling than the direct flight that we have witnessed today from London to Sydney.

It began with Ross Smith, the pilot, and Keith Smith, the engineer, and his crew who met the challenge of then Prime Minister Hughes, who challenged Australians to travel from London to Sydney in under 30 days.

That was the challenge.

So, when they landed at Fannie Bay and were met by Hudson Fysh and Paul McGuinness, what we saw there was the beginning as Hudson Fysh and Paul McGuinness had gone up in their Model T Ford and mapped out places for what would begin, what was then, of course, the Qantas and Northern Territory Aerial Service.

Today, it is an airline that flies right around the world.

And of course, as famously said in the movie, has never had an accident anywhere.

And indeed, I was on QF31 on the way to London and was woken up in the middle of the morning because it was the return flight where the engine had fallen off. And what Qantas did in responding to that crisis was quite extraordinary.

They grounded all of the A380s. They took action to make sure that their first priority of safety was not only done, it was seen to be done.

And I want to echo the thoughts of the Prime Minister as well.

I had the great privilege of serving as the Aviation Minister for six years.

And what I knew was that when there was a crisis anywhere in the world, be it a natural disaster or times of conflict in the Middle East and other places, all I had to do was pick up the phone and Qantas would deliver each and every time, not say, ‘I’m not sure if we can do that’.

They would say yes and then work out how to do it.

And I want to congratulate Qantas on 100 years of that history.

I also want to say that Qantas could stick to its knitting, but they can do much more.

Because Qantas has a social conscience as well.

And in the work that Qantas is doing on biofuels, on having the world’s first zero waste flight, and on the commitment for zero emissions by 2050, it is showing that corporate Australia can provide leadership in this country as well. And I want to congratulate you on that.

I want to congratulate all the workers of Qantas who work each and every day and who do our nation proud.

Congratulations. I look forward on what is to come. We can’t even comprehend. Because the idea that you could travel from Sydney to London direct is quite an extraordinary achievement. Congratulations.

I join with the Prime Minister in saying that this national company deserves the support of our national Government, and I’m sure it will continue to do so into the future.