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State Lunch in honour of His Excellency Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, and Mrs Kim Jung-sook, First Lady of the Republic of KoreaHonour


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Welcome, all, to Australia.

It is a great pleasure for Linda and me to host you at Government House for such an important occasion.

President Moon – yours is the second state visit to Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost two years ago. This alone demonstrates the high regard we place on our bilateral relationship.

We’ve overcome many obstacles to realise this visit under the persistent shadow of the pandemic – another demonstration of how keen we were to make it happen. 

It is highly significant that you are visiting in 2021 – the 60th anniversary of Australia-Korea diplomatic relations.

I also note that the Australia-Korea partnership stretches back more than 120 years, when Australian missionaries first visited the Korean Peninsula and made significant contributions to the development of Korea.

Another strong pillar of our relationship has been Australia’s contribution of more than 17,000 servicemen and women who came to the defence of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War. The ties forged during that time, and through Australia’s continued commitment to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula, have created a deep and lasting bond between our two countries.

The Australia-Korea partnership has grown and matured over the past six decades. We now have a highly complementary economic relationship, strong defence and strategic ties which I am pleased to say I played a small role in enhancing, and growing and dynamic people-to-people links.

Korean companies, which are world-leading sources of innovation, are some of Australia’s biggest investors.

The more than 123,000 people of Korean descent who now call Australia home are a proud part of this country’s multicultural fabric.

Korean culture is increasingly mainstream here in Australia and around the world. Korean barbecue restaurants are proliferating around the country, and the global obsession with ‘Parasite’ and ‘Squid Game’ has not bypassed Australia!

In sum, Australia’s appreciation of Korea is on the rise, and your visit will only accelerate that welcome trend. It therefore makes sense that a highlight of your visit is the formal elevation of the Australia-Korea bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

This is a designation Australia reserves for our most important partnerships. The relationship elevation is underpinned by concrete initiatives that will further strengthen our partnership across the areas of security and strategic cooperation; economic, innovation and technology cooperation; and people-to-people links.

Australia and the Republic of Korea are truly like-minded partners. We are both democratic countries of consequence in the Indo-Pacific. We have shared values, including the highest respect for human rights and the rule of law. We are both US allies, have faced similar challenges, and share similar strategic visions for the Indo-Pacific. Both our voices carry influence in our region, in multilateral fora, and globally.

It is my hope that the Australia-Korea Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will position us to work more closely together at a time of rapid strategic and economic change. I am certain that we will continue to see our bilateral relationship go from strength to strength.

Again, President Moon – welcome to Australia.