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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 31852

Address to James Cook University Campus Opening, Singapore

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 28/06/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 31852


Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Ministers, Premier, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real thrill to be here to help open this sparkling new campus of James Cook University here in Singapore.

I want to start by saying thank you to the team here at the University for introducing me and my colleagues to some of your students just in the brief time before we come together for this ceremony.

There is something marvellous about the enthusiasm to learn of university students. There is something marvellous about the vocation of teaching. There is something tremendous about the intellectual curiosity and the restless striving to do better which is at the heart of all good higher education. Obviously, it is very, very much present here in James Cook Universality, Singapore.

I am also very conscious of the fact that this is the only university, other than Singaporean foundations, which has a stand-alone physical presence here in this great city, this country of Singapore. I guess that means that if you are looking for the characteristics and qualities of an Australian university education, of, if I may say so, a western university education this can be done – this can be had without leaving home – for the students of Singapore.

I think this is quite a special day for higher education here in Singapore and obviously it is another chapter in the story of Australia and Singapore’s long and strong friendship.

One of the great leaders of modern times was, of course, your founder Lee Kuan Yew who didn’t just lead Singapore – he made Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew believed that people should be the “best they can be” and that the best way to bring that about was through the power of a good education.

Speaking at the Colombo Plan conference in 1974, Lee Kuan Yew said that “the best means to a decent life for our people is through the acquisition of more knowledge and higher skills”.

And hasn’t modern Singapore so marvelously embodied that aspiration of your late founder.

Of course, since the 1950s, more than 130,000 Singaporeans have graduated from Australia universities – many through the Colombo Plan.

I am pleased to say that today, through the New Colombo Plan, just begun by my Government, the tide of students flows both ways.

We are returning the compliment that Singapore has paid to us by learning as much in your country as you have over the decades learnt in ours.

Thanks to what we do today more and more Singaporeans will have the opportunity to study in an Australian university here in Singapore.

As Australia focuses more and more on our north, as Australia focuses more and more on strengthening our links with Asia; universities focused on the tropics, like James Cook University, will be very well placed to reap the benefits.

James Cook University is obviously a flagship for Australian tertiary education here in Singapore.

Students from 50 countries are studying with James Cook University here in Singapore.

This University is respected as a teaching institution, it’s respected as a research institution and it’s respected as an institution which engages deeply with the communities that it serves.

It was good to hear the Chancellor say that this is the first private education institution to attain an EduTrust Star here in Singapore.

I do wish to thank the Singaporean Government for the support that you have given to James Cook University.

I am conscious of the fact that this campus was once a Buddhist secondary school.

While we are re-purposing the buildings, we are still striving to achieve that wonderful Buddhist goal of attaining wisdom through education.

University is about growing as a person, it’s about opening your mind, it’s about enriching your heart and may that long be exactly what happens here at James Cook University in Singapore.

Transcript - 31852