Well thanks very much Peter. And what a wonderful occasion in the life of the nation this is. Can I just say a feel a little Eva Perón standing up here. But I think I'll get used to it.
We are joined tonight by some people who are important in the life of the nation, but also in the life of NIDA. Can I first acknowledge a man I'll be introducing momentarily, our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The great Lucy Turnbull. The ceaseless Jenny Bott, chair of the board at NIDA. Unfortunately Peter Ivany can't be with us tonight but we know he's here with us in spirit. Lynne Williams CEO and Director of NIDA who I think feels like a proud parent tonight. And Mel Gibson AO who as a graduate really is representing everyone who has passed through this institute. Some good news Mel. You said you might have difficulty getting into the graduate school next door, but rest assured their specialty is mid-career upskilling. Can I also acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues, Don Harwin, Matt Thislethwaite and Bruce Notley-Smith.
But in particular, and especially, can I acknowledge the students, both past and present. And also the staff, both past and present. For those who teach here, those who share their skills, those who share their craft. We know that for you this is far more than a job. It's your life. It's your love. It's your passion. And all you want to do is share and pass on that which you know. So we acknowledge you. And to the students. Yes, this is a fabulous facility and what's next door will be wonderful. But all of the infrastructure, all the facilities only have meaning in so far as they can assist you to be your professional and artistic best self. Which is why we're here.
And at this celebration I think it's appropriate to just pause and reflect for a moment on what NIDA has contributed to the nation. How NIDA, through the people it has taught, has helped the nation to look at its past. Has helped the nation look to its future. Has assisted the world to look at us and also influenced how we see the world. And it's important to recognise that NIDA isn't just about actors. It's about writers. And producers. And directors. And design. The work that NIDA does is vast.
And I think on an occasion such as this it's not inappropriate for the Federal Arts Minister to single out and name their favourite NIDA graduate. We've all got favourites. Obviously, some are huge Mel fans. Some will put their hand up for Richard Roxburgh or Judy Davis or Hugo Weaving. But I am an unabashed fan of a graduate of the class of 2008 - Sarah Snook. She is an immense talent and we can have great confidence in the work that NIDA does when we look at graduates such as Sarah.
But to my purpose here tonight which is to introduce the Prime Minister. I think we all know the Prime Minister has seen a lot of life. He's lived a lot of life. He's seen it from many different angles and in many different guises. He's had many professional incarnations. And it would be fair to say he has an almost Dr Who-like capacity to periodically regenerate. And that has lent a certain dramatic quality to Malcolm's life. Without wanting to put any ideas into the creative minds here tonight, Prime Minister I think you just need to sit back and accept that it is inevitable and only a matter of time before there is produced, "Malcolm the Musical". So we'll hold on for that one.
But in all seriousness, Malcolm and Lucy have a love and commitment to the arts which is deep, which is personal and which is long standing. And that is why they're with us tonight. Could you please welcome the Prime Minister.
Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.Sywak [at] communications.gov.au