Thank you all for coming.
As one of the new kids on the block, I’ve been very grateful for the warm welcome Curtis and I have received from everyone here in Canberra and around Australia. I’m also grateful for the very useful advice I’ve gotten about how to be an Ambassador.
I’m also learning the ropes of things like Facebook and Twitter.
This week, I discovered the secret weapon for our social media strategy. After writing about my arrival in Canberra, my family history, my concern for the environment, and my participation at AUSMIN, I’ve learned that what really resonates online is – a dog.
My post about our dog Hapa’s arrival in Canberra received more views than all my other posts this month combined. That was a little humbling.
So if you see Hapa appearing frequently on my Facebook page, you will know that another member of my family has been pulled into diplomatic service.
Of course, Hapa’s popularity actually has me a little worried. I’m hoping Washington doesn’t hear about this, because they might give up on human ambassadors and start sending dogs instead.
They’re easier to deal with, cheaper, cuter, and our Deputy Chiefs of Mission would love it. So, let’s all agree not to report the Hapa thing back to our capitals.
I’m honored that so many people dedicated to the pursuit of peace could be here with us tonight.
I am also very pleased that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop could join us. Minister Bishop is also relatively new to her job, but you’d never know it.
Less than a week after taking office, she presided over the UN Security Council like she’d been doing it her whole life.
Last month, she was a key player in our very successful AUSMIN talks, and took Washington by storm. I’m not sure when she sleeps – all I know is that we’re exhausted just trying to keep up with her. We’re fortunate to have you for a partner and friend.
70 years ago, another pioneering woman – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – made an historic trip to the Pacific. During her visit, she inspected the work on the Embassy – the first to be built in Canberra – and planted an oak tree on the grounds.
When I look at that tree, I am reminded of her dedication to peace, to human rights, and to equality for all people.
It also reminds me of my father and my uncle who served in the Pacific.
My father’s influence – and his stories about my uncle – has made me feel a special sense of duty to advance the cause of peace.
In this season, which for me is synonymous with peace, joy, and harmony, I hope that we, as peacemakers, will rededicate ourselves to “peace on earth and good will toward men.”
Thank you again for coming. I wish you and yours a peaceful and joyous holiday season.
I look forward to working closely with you in the years to come.