Statement on being awarded AC on the Queen’s Birthday honours list

Order of Australia

I am deeply grateful to the Australian people for giving me the opportunity to serve them and our country. This also enabled me to be part of Australia’s wider engagement with our region and the world. Australians are a good people, with warm hearts, practical minds and a deeply entrenched spirit of service.

I am grateful to my life-long partner Thérèse for being with me throughout this journey, together with our three extraordinary children, Jessica, Nicholas and Marcus and their families. Together they have been a source of constant love, friendship and support throughout. I accept this award on their behalf because without my family, I would be nothing.

Many will know that I declined this award a number of years ago. There was a reason for that. Serving as a member of parliament, Foreign Minister and Prime Minister is a privilege in itself requiring no further reward. I wanted instead time to make a wider contribution beyond political life. I have sought to do that over the last five years through the Asia Society in promoting understanding of the peoples and cultures of Asia, including China, where so much of our future lies. As Chair of the International Peace Institute, I have tried to support the peace-building, sustainable economic development and climate change initiatives of the United Nations. And as Chair on the Global Partnership on Sanitation and Water for All, I have sought to bring practical action to these most basic of human needs for the world’s most impoverished peoples.

I dedicate this award to our indigenous brothers and sisters. These first Australians are the oldest continuing civilisations on earth, and for those of us who have arrived in recent centuries, it is a privilege to share this vast and ancient continent with them. Since leaving office, Therese and I have established the National Apology Foundation for Indigenous Australians as our own contribution to the important work of reconciliation for which the next step is constitutional recognition. And this important work must continue.