His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)

Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

International Festival of Language and Culture
Sunday, 17 April 2016, 4 minutes


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and to elders from other communities who may be with us today.

  • His Excellency General the Hon David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor of NSW, and Mrs Linda Hurley 
  • Mr Craig Laundy MP, Representing the Prime Minister, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP; Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs
  • The Hon John Ajaka MLC, Representing the Premier of NSW, The Hon Mike Baird MP; Minister for Multiculturalism;
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • The Hon Sophie Cotsis MLC, Representing the Leader of the Opposition in NSW, Mr Luke Foley MP; Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism
  • The Hon James Allsop AO, Chief Justice, Federal Court of Australia
  • Federal, State and visiting International Parliamentarians
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
  • And, of course, the people that have brought us together here tonight –

Mr Abdullah Aksu, Chairman, Amity College; and

Mr Ahmet Polat, Executive Director Affinity Intercultural Foundation

Lynne and I are so very pleased to be here with you this evening to open the 14th International Festival of Language and Culture (the 2nd to be held in Australia).

This festival carries with it important messages of peace and friendship.

Far too often, we are reminded of the differences between us.

And sadly, it is sometimes assumed that these differences are undesirable or something to be feared.

But tonight, in a spirit of understanding and acceptance, children from 22 countries (including Australia) are uniting to remind us that when we understand each other our similarities are many, our differences few.

Indeed tonight, the ‘colours of the world’ will brighten the Sydney Opera House and entertain us with a beautiful kaleidoscope of harmony and goodwill.

I congratulate all those involved with the International Festival of Language and Culture, and co-hosts ‘Affinity Intercultural Foundation and Amity College’, for your continuing commitment to strengthening social bonds and promoting social cohesion.

I am so proud that Australia is such a fitting host of this multicultural festival.

Other than our precious Indigenous Australians—whose cultural traditions are some of the oldest on earth—we are a land of migrants.

Our modern history can be traced through many waves of immigration.

Today, a quarter of Australians were born elsewhere, but now call Australia home.

This multiculturalism is a significant and important part of who we all are as Australians.

We accept our differences—cultural and religious—and we appreciate, and are proud of, our diversity.

We believe in equality and a fair go for all.

We pride amity as a fundamental tenet of our Australian character.

It is in this spirit of mateship that I welcome all these young performers to Australia.

Thank you for sharing your cultural identity and heritage with us.

I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity to learn from each other, and to make new friends.

I hope that what you display here tonight—your respect for others and your pride in yourself—will continue to inspire you long after you return home.

It is now my great pleasure to declare the International Festival of Language and Culture officially open.