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Let me start by acknowledging all the dignitaries in the room from Polyglot Theatre, from Paper Moon and from the Esplanade. 

It is a particular treat for us to be here to see this charming performance by Yogyakarta’s Paper Moon and Victoria’s Polyglot Theatre.  In May 2017,  we visited Yogyakarta to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Victoria and Yogyakarta. A central plank of the MoU related to creative exchanges. This wonderful creative collaboration is the best practical embodiment of that MoU. 

In Victoria, we feel strongly that the creative industries are important. 

Melbourne, as you know, has been named as one of the world’s most liveable cities ever since the measure was started by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The Survey measures certain things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, and I am proud that we have perfect scores in those areas. 

But I don’t think that anyone here this evening needs any convincing that there are many other factors that lead to liveability. 

In fact, I have just been outside and watched the families enjoying all the ‘Octoburst!’ activities for children, on a beautiful balmy evening - beside the bay. That is what liveability is all about. 

But as you know, nothing brings people together like the creative industries.

In Melbourne we are very proud of our achievements. Our National Gallery of Victoria is the 16th most visited gallery anywhere in the world. Now it sounds extraordinary – but obviously even though we have a small population compared to some other parts of the world – we all flock to that gallery for the fabulous things that are happening. In fact, I have just been hearing about the activities at your gallery here, and I am pleased that there are already connections between us. 

We love our State Library. It  is the fourth most visited library in the world and that is quite an achievement. We use our library for so many activities – not only going to look at books.

And we love music. Our Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is Australia’s oldest. There are terrific collaborations between our Orchestra and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, another excellent Orchestra. 

We also understand that in addition to the pleasure and the learnings that the arts provide us, the creative industries also matter for their economic impact. They are important industries. And create tourism as people travel to participate. 

But there is something else. 

The fact that the arts have been used for international diplomacy from the beginning of time is proof that there is no better way of breaking down the barriers between different countries and different peoples, than by showing that the human condition traverses every possible border or region that man  can create. 

Watching the children at the performance today was the best proof of that.

Their nationalities were irrelevant to them. Language was immaterial.  They were just together, learning and playing – and learning by playing. I am so impressed – I know that’s the basic philosophy of Polyglot.

May I just finish by adding that our own children have grown up. But I used to take them to Polyglot. How beautiful to be here today, to remember it so fondly. 

May I  thank all of you who are involved in the arts and creative industries in different ways. You do yourselves proud, you do your countries proud, and you do us proud by bringing us together. 

Thank you very much.