Reception Aboard HMS Spey
Commanding Officer HMS Spey, Commander Bridget Macnae; Consul-General of Britain for Queensland and Northern Territory, Mr Richard Cowin; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters around Brisbane, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here today.
I would like to first turn attention to the recent tragic helicopter accident in the Whitsundays, which resulted in the loss of four Australian Defence Force personnel.
This accident, occurring as it did during the Talisman Sabre defence exercises, serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with military service, even in peacetime.
Our thoughts remain with the families and colleagues of those who perished, and may we honour their sacrifice in continuing our strong support of the military in its mission to defend our nation and our way of life.
Thank you for inviting me onboard this impressive vessel, which I understand is deployed long-term to the Indo-Pacific region.
This is, of course, an area that many people in the far north of our State consider to be their home, or at very least a close neighbour.
In fact, for centuries, the waters off the eastern and western coastlines of Far North Queensland, have sustained particularly our Torres Strait communities.
And they have fished and traded and otherwise worked and lived harmoniously with many races and nationalities of people in the wider region.
It is these communities that come to mind first when I consider the work you do to ensure ongoing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and on behalf of Queenslanders I thank you for it.
Of course, the longstanding and ongoing close partnership between our naval forces also brings other benefits to the people of Queensland, not least a sense of ancestral and cultural connection.
We thank you for visiting and wish you smooth sailing and fair winds for the remainder of your mission in our waters.