Unveiling of new ‘Parramatta’ tapestry

What a pleasure to be joining you all today. Thank you so much to Aunty Peta, for such a generous welcome to Country. I think we often forget what a generous act it is, the welcome to Country, and hoping that as Australians we respond with the same level of generosity made this year. To my parliamentary colleagues Andrew Charlton, Donna Davis and of course, to Lang Walker. This vision and everything that we're seeing tonight is only possible because of your dedication. To the artist, Chris Kenyon, and to all the people who assisted. I've been saying publicly a lot lately, it's not uncommon for artists to be assisted in different ways and the assistance and work that's been done through the professionalism of the Australian Tapestry Network. Your work is world leading, and to have been able to bring this to life is just extraordinary.

But to all of you, we launched at the beginning of this year, the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese and myself, a cultural policy for Australia called Revive. The subtitle of that policy is “a place for every story, a story for every place”. Great places, great spaces have great stories to tell, and the greatest works should be in the greatest places. And today we have what is one of the great works here in Australia now residing here in Parramatta. The entire area where we are, if you look at the design that has gone in to make sure that we have a wall where the sunlight will not fall, and yet a room that is beautifully, naturally lit, allowing the energy of that natural light to dance off the Parramatta River as we see before us.

That tapestry that was referred to in the introduction in Parliament House is an extraordinary work of art put together by the same tapestry network on work that is by Arthur Boyd. If you have a look at that work, and I'd missed this until Chris came and mentioned it to me. If you have a look at that work in Canberra, to the right-hand side, there's one tree in front of the others that is bending to the left and all the other trees are straight. If we look here, there is one tree bending to the right. Australia's largest tapestry and Australia's second largest tapestry, bowing to each other, acknowledging each other in what is a beautiful work of art. And across to the right-hand side, you'll see that we're not simply looking at a barren landscape. As you see the smoke rising towards the sky on the tapestry, you see that what people were arriving to was an inhabited landscape, was a landscape with owners, custodians and people who are managing actively that landscape already.

The reason we put together a cultural policy is because all the different things that we do in the spaces that Lang Walker provides, all the different policies that government provides, provide space to live, space to work, but the art provides the reason. And as people come through here to work each day, they'll be touched, they'll be moved, they'll be inspired.

They'll know that they have a work of national and international significance that they're walking past as they come up the stairs or up the escalators. As they move back and forth in their normal days’ work, you cannot help but be touched by the enormity, the majesty and the quality of what is here. One of Australia's greatest cities in Parramatta now has one of our great architectural spaces, inhabited by our second largest tapestry.

When I think what we were aiming for when we established Australia's cultural policy, I think of moments like this. I think of works like this, and I think of the next layers of inspiration that will occur because of this. For everybody who has been part of this vision, whether it's in the most specific way of designing the work, creating the work, or providing the licence, the funding and that force of nature that allows great works to be produced. What you have done is not just great for Parramatta. What you have done is an important step in realising what we hope cultural policy will deliver for Australia. And for that I offer sincere thanks and sincere congratulations.