Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet here at ADFA this morning and pay my respects to their elders past and present and future, in the context of ADFA particularly.
Prime Minister, can I thank you for choosing ADFA as the place at which to start your International Women’s Day 2017. It’s a really powerful message, ladies and gentlemen, a really powerful message from a Prime Minister who truly believes every single thing he just said. You have no idea how important that message is, Prime Minister. Perhaps you do, perhaps you do but you have no idea what a difference it makes to those of us, who as Simone Wilkie whom I’ve known for a long time – not thirty year but a long time – Simone said - you put your shoulders back, stand up straight, put your head up, it’s a pretty good start to the day, Prime Minister. Thank you very much.
Let me also acknowledge the senior leadership of the ADF and the Defence Organisation – Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of Navy, Chief of Air Force, the Deputy Chief of Army and other senior leaders who are here today.
Let me acknowledge the men and women who are here as midshipmen and cadets, because you’re our future. You are the ones who will make the difference. You are the ones who will stride out of here in a year or two years’ time, less for some, stride out of here and walk a path that is uniquely yours, but is also the ADF’s and the role that you are going to play in it, man or woman.
But for the women, who are here today, you’ve told us that you’re studying science, arts, engineering, a lot of business – that’s good, that’s really good. You’re creative, you’re innovating, you’re tactical, you’re methodical, you will deliver in spades when you start your full careers in the Defence Force.
We have officers who are here today, and I just took a quick note of some of the spheres of work that are represented here today. Engineering, health, human resources, logistics, maritime warfare, the law, fire fighting, linguistics, intelligence, land warfare, and that leaves out a couple of elite athletes that we also have here with us today!
We are doing extraordinary work on the face of the Australian continent and in so many places overseas, where we have thousands of men and women of the ADF also currently serving.
In our Defence Organisation more than forty percent of our Defence Graduate intake is now women. We have increasing numbers of SES women as well and I am pleased to go to Defence Committee and meet with our senior Deputy Secretaries who now fill those roles.
But can I say to the female cadets who are here today, there are many women who’ve gone before you - some, many, still in place. In your futures and in your present you represent their voice and aspirations and your own, for what women can and will achieve in the ADF, now and in the future.
I am enormously proud and honoured to have the responsibility of serving as your Minister. I am enormously proud of what you do, of your service, of your protection of this nation. I acknowledge you, I thank you and I wish you all a very happy International Women’s Day.