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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7355


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/07/1988

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7355

Taoiseach, Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Some Australians have not a drop of Irish blood flowing in
their veins.
Some Australians have rectified that shortcoming by marrying
into an Irish family and I include myself in this
And some of us have the great good fortune of being able to
claim Irish blood by birth or ancestry. Indeed almost one
in every three Australians can make the proud boast of
having been born in Ireland or into an Irish family.
I speak for all Australians, however, regardless of the
nature or degree of their Irishness, in extending to you,
Taoiseach, and your wife, the warmest of welcomes to
Canberra. This is the first visit of an Irish Prime minister to
Australia. Maureen, this is your second visit this year, as
you represented Ireland at our Australia Day celebrations.
These visits coincide with Australia's nationwide
celebrations of our Bicentenary.
Your visit gives us an opportunity therefore, as part of our
national process of stocktaking afforded by the Bicentenary,
to more fully understand the length and strength of the
Australian-Irish relationship.
It was Arthur Caiwell, a great leader of the Australian
Labor Party and a man deeply imbued in Irish culture, who
most eloquently described the nature of the Irish
contribution to Australia.
Arthur Caiwell was the architect of Australia's great
post-war immigration program and was a giant of the labor
movement. It was on St Patrick's Day in 1952 that he had this to say
of Ireland's role in world affairs: 303

" from the dawn of history and even from the mists that
preceded that dawn, Irish men and women have gone from
Ireland to many countries. They went as colonisers but
never as conquerers; they went as educators but never as
exploiters. They never were imperialists, and they
never took away another people's freedom. They brought
their culture and their virtues with them to enrich the
heritage of whatever land they chose to dwell in".
Last year, I was given the honour of addressing the Dail in
Dublin. Drawing on those insights I have just quoted, I
said that Ireland is in fact the head of a huge empire an
empire acquired not by force of arms but by force of Irish
character an empire not of political coercion but of
spiritual affiliation, created by the thousands upon
thousands of Irish men and women who chose to leave their
homeland, or who were banished from it, to take part in the
building of new nations overseas.
A greater number of Irish have gone to the United States
than have come to Australia but they form a smaller
proportion of the total population there than in Australia.
So Australia is the principal province of that Irish empire,
having been endowed as no other country has been with the
hard work and determination of generations of Irish men and
women. If this is true, as I firmly believe it to be, then surely
the epicentre of that Irish empire in Australia must be the
Australian trade union movement and the Australian Labor
Party which I have the honour to lead.
Because from its earliest days the labor movement in this
country has been enriched by those enduring characteristics
of the Irish people: their commitment to justice, their
overwhelming egalitarianism, their enduringly loyal
comradeship. Indeed the fact that Australians were among the first in the
world to form trade unions and to build an industrial
framework for the protection and enhancement of working
conditions was due in no small measure to the vital presence
of the Irish Australians. I
Australia's greatest Prime Ministers were Labor men of Irish
extraction: John Curtin and Ben Chifley.
Even today, my own ministry has a strong Irish
But it, is not just in politics that Irish surnames keep
cropping up.
In literature and the arts, in education, in the law, in
sports, throughout Australia's history and throughout
contemporary Australian society, our proud Irish streak is
clear to see from Charles Gavan Duffy to Ned Kelly, from
the Wild Colonial Boy to Clancy of the overflow, from C. J.
Dennis to Tom Keneally and from Bill O'Reilly to Sidney

Taoi seach,
For all these reasons, when I arrived at Dublin at the start
of my visit to Ireland last October, I felt immediately at
home. The truth of that initial impression was thoroughly borne
n out over the succeeding days of my visit.
n For the Irish and Australian people are united by ties of
history and of kinship ties which span the oceans that
separate us.
Those ties were first formed by the thousands of Irish
e convicts and settlers who came to settle in Australia; today
they are daily renewed by the many Australians who visit
Ireland each year and by those engaged in business between
US. It is good to see an increasing pace of political exchanges
between us.
e, In 1985, President Hillery became the first Irish head of
d state to visit Australia. My visit last year was the first
by an Australian Prime minister. Parliamentary delegations
and ministerial meetings have multiplied.
e So it is my sincere hope, Taaiseach, that while you are in
Australia you too will feel you are among friends. I can
assure you that you, and your wife and party, are very
welcome visitors.
s Taoiseach, It is a pleasure to welcome you to the new home of the
Australian Parliament. You are the first Head of Government
. he we have hosted at dinner in this building.
These Parliamentary chambers like those in which I had the
honour of speaking in Dublin represent the democratic
ice values which Ireland and Australia hold firmly, our shared
commitment to vigorous and open debate, and our common view
that the people are best governed when they govern
. sh themselves. It is those fundamental values which provide
the deepest of the links between us.
Of course, the creation of a free and democratic state of
Ireland is the more remarkable an achievement because it was
only possible after a prolonged struggle for independence
and the horrors of a civil war.
we applaud, Taoiseach, your commitment to seeking a peaceful
resolution to the troubles in Northern Ireland. We welcome
the mechanisms such as the Anglo-Irish agreement, which
provide a framework to facilitate positive change. We
completely endorse your Government's actions against those
who blindly see violence as a solution. 305

And I repeat what I said in Dublin: the Australian
Government will do all within its power to discourage any
Australian citizen from adding in any way to the violence in
Northern Ireland.
You will find, Taoiseach, as you travel around Australia,
that Australians of Irish descent have largely left the
bitterness behind them. Instead, like so many people who
have cone to settle in Australia from overseas, while they
retain the love of their land of origin it is commitment to
their new home that is paramount.
Taoi seach,
Both Ireland and Australia have found that economic
challenges must still be overcome if we are to safeguard the
prosperity we have enjoyed. We have, both had to take hard
decisions to secure the longterm prosperity of our
Australia has a newfound determination to tackle our
underlying economic problems, to diversify our economy and
broaden our work skills so we become a more competitive and
more outward looking country, venturing on to world markets
rather than sheltering behind the constricting barriers of
We see a need to lower such trade barriers. We are doing
just that at home and because trade for Australia as for
Ireland is vital we are urging abroad a new effort to
safeguard the international trading system, through the
Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
Taoi seach,
Both Australia and Ireland have earned reputations around
the world for our efforts to lessen conflict and tension,
and to control and reverse the arms race.
We live in a time when the stakes are higher than ever
before, in that world conflict could well lead to the
obliteration of mankind. But we have seen in recent months
a significant easing of tensions between the superpowers.
The signing of the first treaty-ever to eliminate a class of
nuclear weapons the INF Treaty and the generally
positive dialogue conducted at the Summits between President
Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev give us all some
cause for hope. And, to the extent that we have encouraged
the leaders of those nations, they give Australia and
Ireland some particular cause for satisfaction.
Taoi seach,
As you know, 1988 is both the Australian Bicentennial year
and the millennium of the City of Dublin a fact that
dramatically emphasises how recently Europeans came to this

The Irish contribution to our Bicentenary celebrations has
been a generous and valuable one.
The Irish sail training vessel, the Asgard II,' participated
in the Parade of Tall Ships. There has been a tremendous
number of exchanges in the artistic and scholarly fields.
And only this afternoon, Taoiseach, you presented the
computerised records of some 40,000 Irish men and women
transported to Australia in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries. These records will provide an invaluable
resource for scholars and for those many Australians seeking
to trace their Irish ancestry.
But that is not the end of the Irish Bicentennial presence
in Australia.
when I was in Dublin, the Irish Government hosted am
official dinner which was memorable in every respect. We
sat down in the magnificently refurbished Royal Hospital
Kilmainham. we were very well fed. Those of us who drink
were very well drunk.
And we were superbly entertained with singing and dancing.
I was particularly impressed with a group called Siamsa
Tire, which performs Irish folk dances, and I made the
promise then that I would see to it that Siamsa Tire was
able to perform before Australian audiences sometime during
1988. It is my pleasure to announce that arrangements for the tour
are now firm. Siansa Tire will visit nine Australian cities
for performances in October and I wish them well for a
successful tour. I look forward to attending one of their
performances myself. I want to express my appreciation to
Qantas, Australian Airlines and the Australian Bicentennial
Authority for their support of the tour.
Taoiseach, Ireland has produced a pantheon of great writers over the
last one hundred years and one of the greatest of them was
Oscar Wilde.
Australians, of course, were from time to time the butt of
Wilde's satire. A character in Lady Windermere's-Fan said
she thought Australia must be so pretty " with all thFe dear
little kangaroos flying about".
But in a serious vein, Wilde once described what he called
the great drama of his life. " It's that I have put my
genius into living my life; all I've put into my works is
my talent".
Australians can be proud and it's proper tonight that we
express our sense of debt that our country has received in
unequalled measure both the spark of genius and the vast
resource of talent that characterise the Irish people. 307

Transcript 7355