Qantas Gala Dinner

31 Mar 2023
Sydney, NSW
Prime Minister
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I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I am proud to lead a government that will give all Australians the opportunity to vote for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a referendum later this year.

I know Qantas has a deep and longstanding commitment to the cause of reconciliation – and recognition.

And Australia has been talking about this for a long time.

It’s been six years since the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Nine years since the Qantaslink Dash 8s carried the R for ‘Recognise’ around the nation.

In 2023, all Australians will have an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary privilege we all have to share this island continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture, and to recognise this in our nation’s birth certificate, our constitution.

I look forward to Qantas playing an important role in that conversation.

  • Your Excellency, Governor-General David Hurley
  • Chairman Richard Goyder 
  • CEO Alan Joyce 
  • Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison
  • Leader of the Federal Nationals David Littleproud

Distinguished guests, one and all.

It’s an honour to be here tonight, to join with you in celebrating our national carrier – and a world leader.

There is probably no other Australian companywhose logo stirs the emotions quite like the sight of the flying kangaroo on a Boeing 737.

And there are very few organisations that project Australia’s character and qualities to the world in the way Qantas does.

Whether you’re a tourist visiting our beautiful country, or an Aussie returning home, boarding a Qantas flight is that moment of connection with the warmth and humour of Australia.

And all that is due to so much more than your longevity, or your logo.

It’s a credit to your people – the skill of your pilots, the boundless patience and cheer of your cabin crew, the dedication and care of your engineers and ground staff. 

And it’s a tribute to the way your airline brings people together, connects us, empowers us and inspires us to see more of our country and the world. 

All that matters in day to day, routine travel – but it counts for double in the tough times. 

I was the Minister responsible for aviation for many years, it was a job I loved. 

And every day in that job, I knew if there was acrisis, anywhere in the world, whether it was a natural disaster or a violent uprising, I knew I could pick up the phone and Qantas would swing into action, getting Australians to safety. 

The last few years have reminded us all how important that is. 

Moving firefighters and equipment around the country during the Black Summer bushfires. 

And delivering tens of thousands of Australians safely home during those uncertain early months of the pandemic. 

All this is why Australians are rightly proud that our national carrier has endured and prospered through a century of change and transformation. 

When Qantas was founded, our nation still strained against the so-called tyranny of distance. 

A mindset that saw our region as a place to refuelon the way to Europe, not a destination in its own right.

Today we embrace the opportunities of our region, home to the fastest-growing economies in human history.

And the great example Qantas sets for our nationis that you don’t hold your place as a leader in such a rapidly-evolving and ultra-competitive global market by standing still. 

Qantas has survived and thrived by innovating, adapting, seeking new and better ways of doing things. 

And you’re still leading in this regard - adding new flight paths to your map, new aircraft to your fleet. 

Setting new standards as a sustainable airline – and upholding your cherished reputation as the world’s safest airline.

Long may that continue.

Congratulations to Alan and the whole team: the pilots and cabin crew; the engineers and ground handlers; the sales and service staff.

And the tens of thousands of Qantas people and passengers who, over the years, have made the national carrier what it is today – and are working to make it even better in the future.

On behalf of all Australians, I say thank you, congratulations and I wish you all the very best in your second century of service to our nation.