Toast speech at lunch hosted in honour of Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull
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Toast speech at lunch hosted in honour of Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mrs Turnbull, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to welcome the Prime
Minister and Mrs Turnbull to Singapore and to reciprocate your warm hospitality to me and my delegation in Canberra last October. I am particularly glad that Malcolm and Lucy had a chance to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens this morning. It is one of my favourite places to take a walk, or as we say in Singapore, jalan jalan, and I am especially pleased that we named a new variety of orchid after our two good friends. We now have an Aranda Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull. Two names but one orchid. The orchid is a symbol of our blossoming and enduring friendship which goes back to the Second World War, where Australian troops fought bravely and gave their lives to defend Malaya and Singapore. And this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Before the anniversary, the Senator for Queensland, James McGrath, wrote to me. He shared with me that his grand-uncle
Major Gray Schneider was a soldier in the war, deployed in Singapore as part of the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Field Regiment. And he was captured and suffered as a prisoner of war in Changi. And the Senator asked if I could share a few words to be read out during the 2/ 10th’s ceremony commemorating the Anniversary. So I wrote, “We will continue to honour the Australian servicemen and women who fought valiantly to defend Singapore”. Singapore and Australia have honoured them by making common cause on lasting peace and prosperity for Singapore, Australia and our shared region. Australia has stayed actively engaged in the region. You played a key role in establishing the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which remain current and relevant today. When ASEAN was established, you were its first dialogue partner. When Singapore was born, you were among the first to recognise us. Singapore has been a strong supporter of Australia’s regional engagement. We worked closely to launch APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum, platforms that support the regional architecture and ASEAN centrality, ASEAN’s role in the regional architecture. I am looking forward to my next visit to
Australia in March next year for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit which I will co-chair with the Prime Minister. Because of our similar strategic outlooks and worldviews, we could conclude the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreement and make concrete progress in deepening our cooperation. Australia has always been a valuable and steadfast defence partner. As part of the CSP, we are now jointly developing military training areas in Queensland. Recently, Singapore was happy to welcome HMAS Ballarat (recently) to participate in our international maritime review, marking the Republic of Singapore Navy’s
50th anniversary. Both Singapore and Australia are committed to promoting free trade in a rules-based multilateral system. Therefore, Singapore was Australia’s first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner outside of New Zealand. And the upgrade of the Singapore – Australia FTA, which will enter into force later this year, will bring more economic opportunities for both sides. Australia has taken the lead to resume TPP talks with the remaining 11 members after the US withdrew from the TPP. And Singapore too supports the TPP-11. We have also launched new areas of cooperation in cyber-security and innovation. Our entrepreneurs are collaborating to turn ideas into commercially-viable products. One entrepreneur, or two, Michelle, a Singaporean and her husband Adam, an Australian, set up a rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies with bases both in Singapore and Queensland. Supported by SPRING Singapore and Singapore’s National Research Foundation, Gilmour launched a rocket in Queensland last year, which was powered by 3D printed fuel. It is the first Singapore company to do so and the project can dramatically reduce the cost of rocket launches. We can work together in so many areas because we share similar outlooks and our people-to-people ties are strong. 50,000 Singaporeans live all over Australia and 25,000 Australians make Singapore their second home, including Alex and Yvonne, Malcolm’s son
and daughter-in-law, and their granddaughter Isla, who is an SG50 toddler. Last year 400,000 Singaporeans visited Australia, and one million Australians visited Singapore. But our people-to-people ties go beyond tourism because there is warmth and a close kinship between our two peoples. About a month ago, I received an email from somebody in Perth and I would like to read some of it to you. He said, “My 87-year old mother has loved
Singapore for many years. She has travelled there almost every year for the past 35 years or so, for most of them along with a dear friend of hers. In fact, she has travelled to no other
country during that time. She loves the people, the country, and the many diverse cultures who live in harmony there. Mum’s friend passed away some years ago, and she made her promise that she would keep visiting Singapore for as long as she could. Unfortunately, my mother was diagnosed with cancer just over a month ago. She has only six months to a year to live. Tomorrow, we will be visiting Singapore
for my mother’s final trip. I will make sure that the week we spend there, will be one to cherish, so that the memories will always stay with me. On behalf of my family, Singapore and
everyone who lives there and makes it such a special place, will always have our gratitude.” I was deeply touched by the note. We welcomed them at Changi Airport with a bouquet of orchids and did our best to make their visit a memorable one. I hope this friendship and warmth between our individuals, our peoples, and our countries, will endure and that generations of Singaporeans and Australians will continue to hold one another in special regard. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join me in a toast. To Her Majesty the Queen, to the good health and success of Prime
Minister Turnbull, and to the enduring friendship between Australia and Singapore. Cheers.

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