AMBASSADOR BLEICH: Well, welcome, everyone. There are certain people in public life who require some introduction and then there are other people who if you introduce them it‘s almost insulting. I mean, no one ever stands up and says, “He began his career as a young seminarian in South Austria.” They say, “Ladies and gentlemen, the pope.” (Laughter.) And there’s only one person in this world’s who could steal Oprah Winfrey’s thunder here in Australia. (Laughter.) She is our great Secretary of State, who -- let me just say two words about her. I don’t think there is going to be any dispute by anyone in this room or anyone in this country that there is no person who has earned greater respect, greater admiration, and genuine affection in the world than Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton is the face of America in this world and we could not have a better leader of this department or a greater face in the world than the person I am so pleased to introduce to you all now, the great Secretary of State -- (laughter) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my goodness. Good morning or should I say g’day. I am thrilled to be here to have this chance to thank all of you. I want to start, of course, by thanking our ambassador for his leadership and his enthusiasm in taking on this mission and thank you as well, Becky, for being such an important part of that. I also want to thank our consul general here, Michael Thurston, who’s done an excellent job and a very distinguished career and supporting this trip for me and for Secretary Gates. So it’s a double whammy for you to try to arrange everything for this 25th AUSMIN I know takes a lot of extra effort. And it certainly is a deep burden on our consul staff here and then I know there are people from Canberra and Sydney and Perth, right, who’ve been seconded and a lot of them are over at the sites that I will be going to throughout the day.
But I wanted us to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude for your service. It is a very important relationship. We are proud of our long friendship and partnership, our alliance between the United States and Australia. We are working hard to ensure that it not only remains strong, but it grows to meet the challenges of the 21st century. And you cannot do that work without each and every one of you. It is, for me, such a treat to be in Australia and I only wish I could route myself through here about once every six months because I want to see more of the country. I had a great visit the first time in the ‘90s and I’m feeling a little bit bereft, because I only get to be here and working very hard the two days -- two full days that I’m here. But I know that Australia is a wonderful place to work. Forget the crocodiles and the box jelly fish and the vegemite, I mean, really. You’re are dearest friends and allies, but I don’t get that at all. And I am also well aware that we know that many of you not only serve here in Australia, but you’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. We’ve sent a officials, our foreign service and civil service officials to those posts and I deeply appreciate the sacrifice of those who have done that.
Now, I want to spend a special greeting to Senior LAS Supervisor Chris Henirkas. Chris, I didn’t know you’d be here, because I know that you’ve had surgery and you’ve served continuously the longest serving employee in Melbourne for more than 20 years. Consul generals, ambassadors, secretaries of state, they come and go, but you’re here and we are very appreciative ad let’s give Chris a round of applause.
I want to be sure to be able to shake your hands as I depart to the go to the university for the town hall. And I’m delighted that some of the youngest members of the family of our mission are here and I thank the boys and girls to coming to say hello on Sunday morning instead of doing something more fun. But I am just deeply grateful, because this is a lynch pin and everything that we are going to be able to do -- diplomatically, militarily, politically, strategically in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. And so thank you for what you do every day to make it stronger and even better for the future. Thank you all.