Lighting of the Empire State Building in green and gold

Subjects: Australia Day, Empire State Building, Hugh Jackman

New York

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

24 January 2014

FOREIGN MINISTER: What a delight it is to be in New York at this iconic Empire State Building – and yes I have watched "An Affair to Remember" and "Sleepless in Seattle" possibly a dozen times each. Much as the Sydney Opera House is to Australians, so too is the Empire State Building to Americans. But I think that today it's all about what Hugh Jackman is to Australians. As Australia's Foreign Minister I have many opportunities to boast about Australia's exports, but two of our most famous exports are Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness. But I'm sorry people, they are only on loan! Now on Australia Day the some 20,000 Aussies who call New York home may well be feeling a little bit homesick for the 90 degree [Fahrenheit] temperatures, and the surf and the beaches and the barbie – but at least we know that they will be able to bask in the green and gold glow of the Empire State Building. So it gives me enormous pleasure and great pride to introduce Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness.

HUGH JACKMAN: Thank you, thank you Julie Bishop, our Foreign Minister and Richard Leather our Consul-General, thank you to all for being here. I'm rugged up! I know it's Australia Day – it's not Australian weather outside but as Julie said, we're going to heat up New York with the Australian colours of green and gold. We've got some Aussies here? By the way if you want to know how to find Aussies – apart from going to the bar – you just say three simple things: "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" [crowd replies: "Oi! Oi! Oi!"]. We're everywhere!

But it's a great thrill for us – you know our home is Australia – don't worry Julie! We have a base here in New York and we, and many many Australians, feel the generosity of Americans and of New Yorkers every day of our lives. We have a special relationship I think, Australia and America. And the fact that when I sent an email to the Empire State Building – I had a kind of crazy idea – they came back saying we'd love to light up the Empire State Building in Australian colours for Australia Day. So I want to say thank you to everyone at the Empire State Building!

DEBORRA-LEE FURNESS: And can I just say the Empire State Building is such an iconic building in New York, and part of New York's culture is so embracing of all cultures, so I love that they're lighting up our culture. They're so sharing and generous. I love them here at the Empire State Building.

HUGH JACKMAN: And I'm thrilled – it's now Friday afternoon so in the Australian tradition after this you can all go home – alright? But anyway, it is our great, great honour to light it up and we're going to do that right now. We're going to give you a little preview.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555