You are on page 1of 1

Thursday 26 March 2015

Australia, NZ pass
parliamentary motions
to mourn a friend

he governments of Australia
and New Zealand have passed
parliamentary motions to
mourn the passing of Mr Lee Kuan
Yew, as a testament to the high regard for the former Prime Ministers
achievements and his contributions to
promote bilateral relations with these
key partners.
Below is the motion by Australian
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and excerpts of the parliamentary debate in
New Zealand:
Motion by Mr Abbott
on Tuesday
I move, that the House record its deep
regret at the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew,
former Prime Minister of Singapore,
on March 23, 2015, and place on record
its acknowledgement of his role as the
founding father of modern Singapore
and tender its profound sympathy to
his family in their bereavement.
Mr Lee did not just lead his country;
he also made his country. In the mid1950s, when he first came to prominence in Singapore, his country was
poor and friendless. Today, it is rich
and well connected. It is one of the
great success stories of the modern
world, thanks to the ideas, drive and
judgment of Mr Lee and thanks to the
talents of the Singaporean people that
he unleashed. It is a remarkable economic success story. It is one of the
most remarkable economic success
stories in history. Within a generation,
Singapore has moved from the Third
World to the First World.
Singapore under Mr Lee blazed a
trail that has been followed by other
countries in our region by Taiwan,
South Korea and, most recently, China.
He was once asked which of his decisions had made the biggest contribution to Singapores success. Making
English the common language was
his response. This not only defused
ethnic tensions in Singapore, but also
gave the country easy entry into the
global economy. He also maintained
Singapores British-based common-law
legal system and ran an utterly clean
and corruption-free administration.
One statistic tells the story of modern Singapore. In 1965, the nations
gross domestic product per head was
about one-third that of Australia. Today, Singapores GDP per head is almost double that of Australia. In the
1980s, when Singapore was surging
ahead and Australia risked stagnating, he said we risked ending up as
to use that phrase the poor white
trash of Asia. That phrase stung because we feared it might be true.
I have to say that a quarter century of reform under Mr Bob Hawke

and Mr Paul Keating and then under


Mr John Howard and Mr Peter Costello restored our position but, if we
are to avoid his prophecy, the challenge for this generation is to ensure
the age of reform in this country has
been merely interrupted, not ended.
The relationship between Singapore and Australia is strong and growing stronger all the time, thanks to
MrLee and his successors, especially his son, Singapores current
Prime Minister and friend of Australia, MrLee Hsien Loong, who should
receive our deepest condolences today.
Today, two-way trade between Singapore and Australia is about A$30 billion (S$32.3 billion) a year. Singapore
is our fourth-largest source of inward
investment. Every year, about 300,000
Australians travel to Singapore and,
every year, about the same number
of Singaporeans travel to Australia.
About 100,000 Singapore citizens are
alumni of Australian universities and
Singapore is a military ally of Australia. Under the Five Power Defence Arrangements, Singaporean forces regularly exercise and train in this country.
We share a language and much
institutional architecture with Singapore. The country and Australia are
natural partners and I hope that, over
time, our relationship with Singapore
will be as easy, close and familial as it
has long been with New Zealand. And,
if so, that too will be part of MrLee
Kuan Yews legacy. He did not just
build Australia, but also spurred this
country at a critical time in our history
to be better than we might have been.
Today, we mourn Mr Lees passing but, forever, we will celebrate the
life of this great nation builder and
leader of our time. I acknowledge the
presence today of the Singapore High
Commissioner and hope he will pass
on to his government and country the
condolences of the people and parliament of Australia.
Honourable members: Hear, hear.

Mr Abbott says Mr Lee spurred Australia at a critical time in its history to be better. Photo: Reuters

world leader among small countries


that it is today. Mr Lee was a long-time
friend of New Zealand and a supporter
of New Zealands role in South-east
Asia. He was also instrumental in establishing the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN). New Zealand
and ASEAN celebrate our 40th anniversary this year. On behalf of all New
Zealanders, we would like to express
our condolences to Mr Lees family and
the people of Singapore, who have lost
a father with his passing.

Excerpts of the New


Zealand parliamentary
debate on Tuesday
Mr Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister and
Acting Prime Minister: I move, that this
House express its sadness at the passing yesterday of Singapores first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, aged 91. As one of
Singapores founding fathers, Mr Lee
led Singapore to independence in 1965
and remained its Prime Minister until
1990. Due to his unwavering determination and vision, he guided Singapores
growth and development, making it the

Mr Lee was a
supporter of
New Zealands
role in Southeast Asia.
He was also
instrumental
in establishing
the Association
of South-east
Asian Nations.
Mr Bill English
New Zealand Deputy
Prime Minister and
Acting Prime Minister

Mr Phil Goff of
New Zealand Labour
Party: Can I join the
Acting Prime Minister
on behalf of Labour in
expressing our condolences to the people of Singapore and,
in particular, to his family and son, the
current Prime Minister of Singapore,
on his passing?
Mr Lee Kuan Yew was an extraordinary figure. I remember when he gave
a speech on television in 1965 and
I think I was a 12-year-old, a child at
that time he spoke with such power
and emotion about why he was taking Singapore out of Malaysia and,
decades later, I still remember that
as the first political speech that ever
impacted me in that way.
I remember the former Prime Minister for another reason and that was
when I had dinner with Mr Lee at the
Shangri-La Dialogue in 2008. I explained to the then Minister Mentor
that my mother was a great admirer
of his. He looked at me somewhat quizzically and said: Why would that be
the case?
I explained that in 1977, as a student

who had gone six years without a haircut, I was given my first haircut when
passing through Singapore by the
customs officials at the airport as the
price of entry. My mother congratulated him on achieving something that
nobody else had been able to do for
years before that time.
Ms Tracey Martin,
Deputy Leader of New
Zealand First: As we
acknowledge his passing, Mr Lee Kuan Yews
given name in Chinese
means light and brightness. We
would respectfully suggest that the
world is a little less light and a little
less bright after his passing.
Mr David Seymour,
Leader of ACT New
Zealand: Mr Lee Kuan
Yew was an extraordinary man who ruled in a
constitutional arrangement that I suspect very few, if any, in
this House would have a lot of patience
or support for. But all of that is only
a preamble to paying tribute to what
he did for Singapore, a country that
in the 1960s was a recipient of foreign
aid from New Zealand and, today, has
twice the gross domestic product per
capita that we do.
It is a tribute not only to the great
man, Mr Lee, but also to the approach
he took to open markets, free trade, a
flexible labour market and tolerable
taxes that have allowed the people of
Singapore, who had no natural resources to speak of, to become so prosperous.
The motion was agreed to.