Reception to Celebrate Air Force Week 2018
Commander, Combat Support Group, Air Commodore Ken Robinson CSC;
Assistant Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Assistant Minister of State, Ms Jennifer Howard,
Members of the Queensland and Federal Parliaments;
Mayor of Ipswich City Council, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, and Councillors;
Distinguished representatives of the Australian Army;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a great honour and privilege for Kaye and me to join you again in the convivial surroundings of the Officers’ Mess at RAAF Amberley.
And, in particular, to join you during Air Force Week 2018, in celebrating the 97th anniversary of the establishment of the RAAF in 1921.
From our 21st century point of view, those open-cockpit biplanes that were the RAAF’s first aircraft look extraordinarily flimsy. That’s probably because they were!
They bear very little resemblance to the technological marvels of military aircraft that now prowl the runways of Amberley, and defend the airspace around our vast country.
And yet those serving in the RAAF in 1921 would readily recognise in their 21st century counterparts the same high levels of professionalism, dedication, preparedness, and commitment to the security of Australia.
They might have been surprised to find that their modern-day counterparts were on active duty in the Middle East, which was location of the first shots ever fired in anger by the RAAF’s predecessor, the Australian Flying Corps, in World War One.
And I believe they would have been profoundly impressed by the RAAF’s role in disaster relief, such as recent missions to assist the people of Fiji and Tonga following Cyclone Gita, and the people of Papua New Guinea following the earthquake just last month.
The RAAF’s 97-year history of defending Australia and Australians has not been without substantial cost. I acknowledge, with both pride and sadness, those RAAF personnel, and all those from our defence forces, who gave their lives or were injured in body or spirit while on active service.
As Honorary Air Commodore of No. 23 Squadron, as Patron of the No. 23 Squadron Association in Queensland, and speaking on behalf of the people of Queensland, I thank those currently serving in the RAAF for their dedication and service.
I thank RAAF Amberley for the productive relationship it maintains with the City of Ipswich, just as I thank the City of Ipswich for the great support it gives to Amberley.
With a grateful heart, immense respect, and optimism for the future, I extend my very best wishes to the RAAF on its 97th birthday.