State visit to Australia: Luncheon in Government House
Your Excellency Governor-General,
Excellencies, Distinguished guests,
I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet — the Ngnunnawal people — and paying my respects to their Elders past and present.
Queen Sonja and I would like to thank you for the warm welcome we have received here in Australia. This is the very first official visit by a Norwegian head of state to Australia, but it is not the first time the Queen and I have visited. In 1970, we had the pleasure of experiencing your beautiful country and I also had the opportunity to participate in the 5.5 metre world championships in sailing off Palm Beach in Sydney that year. This was a truly wonderful experience, even though the Australian David Forbes crossed the finishing line first.
Geographically, our two nations are almost as far apart as they could be. However, Australia and Norway have always enjoyed excellent relations, due to deep-rooted people-to-people contacts, shared values and well-established business ties.
Around ten thousand Norwegians currently reside in Australia, and well over twenty thousand Australians consider themselves to be of Norwegian descent. Your country is also one of the most popular destinations for Norwegian students who travel abroad to study. Even our own daughter in law, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, spent one year as an exchange student in Wangaratta, Victoria, when she was still in high school.
The connections between our countries date back at least two hundred years. Norwegians were among the first European immigrants to arrive in Australia in the 19th century, and at the turn of the 20th century they constituted the second largest group of non-British immigrants in Queensland. Some of them left a lasting mark on Australian society. The Archer family arrived in Queensland in 1834. There, the brothers Charles and Thomas established a sheep station called Eidsvold, named after the town where the Norwegian Constitution was signed in 1814. At Eidsvold, their younger brother Colin Archer developed his skills in shipbuilding. Later in life, he built one of our most cherished Norwegian national symbols: Fram, the ship used by polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen on his 1893 Arctic expedition, and later by Roald Amundsen to reach the South Pole in 1912.
These examples illustrate moments of shared history and the fact that Australia and Norway have many values in common. Recent events in both our countries and internationally have made it clear that the principles on which we build our societies – such as democracy, the rule of law, and human rights – cannot be taken for granted.
Closer economic ties have proved to be a strong incentive for preserving peaceful relations between countries, and provide a solid basis for wider cooperation. Over the past decade or so, we have seen growing contact between Norway and Australia. There are more and more student exchanges and a growing business presence in each other’s countries. I am certain that we will continue to see growth in trade, research cooperation and investment in the years ahead. Australia is an important market for Norwegian companies. The substantial business delegation accompanying us on this visit reflects the keen interest in expanding our trade ties. The Norwegian business delegation includes representatives from the shipping, defence, and oil and gas sectors, which are important sectors in both our countries. We both depend on the sea as a link to other countries, and the responsible extraction of natural resources is important for our economies. I am sure all members of our delegation have noted your Prime Minister’s assurance that Australia is open for business with international investors. I hope they will be able to make new contacts and expand their operations here as a result of this visit, and that the friendship between our two countries will continue to flourish and deepen.
Thank you for your attention.
I would like to invite you to join me in a toast to the Queen and people of Australia.