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Speech by FS at grand opening of Adventures in Australia (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the grand opening of Adventures in Australia at Ocean Park today (March 23):

Governor (Hieu Van Le), Premier (Jay Weatherill), Leo (Kung), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon.

     It is indeed a great pleasure of mine to see our good friends from Australia with us today. To be celebrating, together, the grand opening of "Adventures in Australia" here in Hong Kong Ocean Park.

     Laughing kookaburras and wallabies are just two of the stars of Adventures in Australia, Ocean Park's new, barrier-free outback exhibit. They are stars, too, in Australia.

     The Wallabies are the universally known nickname of Australia's national rugby union team. The Wallabies will, of course, be in town later this week for the annual Hong Kong Sevens bash - I use that word both literally and figuratively. It will be a bash.

     As for Australia's Kookaburras, they are the world's top-ranked men's field hockey team and current World Cup holders.

     I would say that makes for quite the team here. And I haven't yet even touched on the koalas, but we haven't thought of a team that it should be named after. And perhaps, they may be best described as exhibit mascots. I am pleased to note, by the way, that a now thriving multi-acre eucalyptus farm in Guangdong which was purpose-built for the koalas will keep the eucalyptus-munching treasures belly-full and happy.

     Last November, I attended the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. There, a number of world leaders spent some memorable moments in full cuddle with these enchanting marsupials. Watching the bantam-weight charmers disarm political giants, I can certainly appreciate why they are Australia's best-known ambassadors.

     The good news is: Ocean Park visitors are about to find that out for themselves.

     This inspired exhibit got its start over a meal that I had with Governor Le, a few years ago in Adelaide. That evening, we talked about economic relations, world political situations and of course koalas, among other things. Soon after, Governor Le offered to help create a living piece of Australia in Hong Kong. That South Australian Government gift - of birds, animals and continuing expertise - has been gratefully received by Ocean Park. And, of course, by the people of Hong Kong.

     Thanks to South Australia, "Adventures in Australia" will surely draw enthusiastic visitors to Ocean Park from all over the world.

     Much more than attractions, however, the new exhibit will help spread the critical messages of conservation and sustainability. No less important, they symbolise the close bonds that Hong Kong and South Australia have long enjoyed. And will long continue to enjoy.

     Once again, my thanks to Governor Le, Premier Weatherill and everyone associated with Adventures in Australia for your precious gifts. And your invaluable friendship. Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, March 23, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:16


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