Prime Minister's remarks to staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Canberra about Australia's election to serve as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council for 2013 and 2014.

The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister

R.G. Casey Building, Canberra

19 October 2012

Thank you very much and it’s fantastic to be here with my ministerial colleague Dr Emerson on what is such a great day for our nation.

Now it’s not too many venues that you speak in that you’ve got people on three levels, so I’m going to be looking around a bit to try and take you all in to this speech.

But you, working here, know how important this is for our nation. It’s been 27 years since we served on the Security Council.

We are a nation that is a substantial contributor to the UN. And so it was more than time for us to return to the Security Council and to play a role over the next two years in shaping events that are truly important to our nation.

The Security Council is going to be at the heart of shaping what happens next in Afghanistan as we work towards the completion of the NATO-ISAF mission. It’s vital the UN to what happens next in East Timor. It’s vital to our efforts against poverty and peace-building around the world where we have got such a good track record and where we are continuing to make such strong contributions now.

The Security Council will be vital to what happens with the sanctions regimes against Iran, against North Korea, the fight against global terrorism, the fight against weapons and their illegal use in our world.

It will also be pivotal to what happens in Syria and the ending of the violence there. So, so much to do over the next two years, but we’ve only got there because of the hard work of the people gathered here and beyond.

And so my real purpose today has been to come along and to say a very big thank you to everyone who has been involved in making sure that we won this bid. It’s never been easy.

There’s been some casual predictions from some in the newspapers about how easy it is to get yourself on the Security Council. This group of people knows that it’s really hard. And it takes a lot of work.

And so I would like to thank in order, firstly Kevin Rudd for having the foresight as Prime Minister to put our name forward and to commence the bid process, and then to pursue it so energetically as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I’d like to thank too, Stephen Smith who in his days as Foreign Affairs Minister also was very determined to pursue the bid around the world.

I’d like to thank Dr Emerson for having played his part across all of those years as Minister for Trade, sneaking in advocacy of our Security Council bid to discussions that were supposed to be about something else entirely.

I’d like to thank Minister Bob Carr who I’ve spoken to over in New York. I accused him of drinking apple martinis in a bar in New York. Being Bob Carr of course he wasn’t drinking apple martinis in a bar in New York. But he is tremendously excited and you all know the great efforts he’s put in in this, the closing stages of the campaign, including in New York in recent days.

I spoke too to Richard Marles, who is tremendously excited and has played a major role for us in the Pacific and beyond and has been a very vigorous advocate of this bid.

I’d like to thank here, Dennis Richardson and I’d also Gillian, like to thank you for your leadership of the departmental efforts here and around the world. This has been an effort not only out of this building in Canberra, but in all of our missions and posts around the world, people have been involved in the bid and involved in the advocacy for it.

I’ve had personal experience of dealing with DFAT staff who around the world in those missions and posts, have been going that extra mile to make sure that our credentials for the bid are put to the forefront.

I’d like to thank the amazing Gary Quinlan who has led our bid in New York.

I’d have to say having had exposure to Gary; I really don’t know how he does it. It takes tremendous energy, a lot of fortitude and Gary shown all of that. A few moments of great stress along the way, Gary’s known for having the occasional stressful moment I think we’d all acknowledge that. But the fact that we have won and won in such style is a tremendous credit to him.

I’d like to thank Caroline Millar as well for her efforts. She’s been there driving it hard too, and without her efforts we wouldn’t have got there.

And I know all of these great representatives — Dennis, Gillian, Gary, Caroline — work with big teams and they’re as good as the teams they lead. They can’t be better than the teams they lead. And so that is a great tribute to all of you, to each of you.

And I think the fact that we came through is not only a tribute to Australian diplomacy, it’s a tribute to Australia’s reputation around the world. And that reputation is built by the activities of our diplomats.

It’s also built by the work of our Australian Defence Force as we do such difficult missions overseas. It’s built by the work of our aid workers as they go into some of the poorest and hardest places on earth to make a difference to people in real poverty and as they do so, to hold the reputation of Australia up high.

It’s also a tribute to our federal police who deploy around the world, and who are so well received as they take those missions on around the world. And I’ve seen that with my own eyes too, the difference that our federal police can make in some of the hardest and most dangerous places on earth.

All of this is to be celebrated. It’s to be the subject of a great deal of thanks. I’m looking forward to spending some time with you today and saying thanks to as many as I can personally.

Now I know in these days of budget restrictions that we’re not at this point raising glasses of champagne.

Though I do understand there may have been the occasional person who sustained themselves late into the night by having drinks through to get them there, but I don’t expect in a group this large for people to identify that they have been up all night drinking. But there were a few were they Dennis? Alright, he’ got his senate estimates face on in answer to that question.

But I hope at some point you do get the opportunity to raise a glass and to savour the moment because it really is about you and your efforts.

Thank you very much.

[ENDS]