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1988 Aug 5 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Speech opening British Day at World EXPO 88

Document type:public statement
Document kind:Speech
Venue:Brisbane, Queensland
Source:Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist:-
Editorial comments:Around 1020.
Importance ranking:Minor
Word count:778
Themes:Foreign policy (Australia and NZ), Trade, Conservatism, Economy (general discussions)

Mr Chairman, Your Excellency, Premier, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I first thank you for that special Queensland welcome and let me congratulate you on the splendid achievement which this EXPO '88 in Brisbane represents.

I don't even need to see it to tell you that because word has reached us in Britain, and I think it right through the world, of how marvellous it is. It's a triumph for Brisbane and a triumph for Queensland and what's good for Queensland, must be good for Australia.

I am especially pleased that Britain was the first country to commit itself to a national pavillion at EXPO '88. Well someone has to give a lead. Nothing could better underline our confidence in you and in any case our young people would have wished it. For the young people of our two countries have something very much in common, they are both going to build a very great future for Britain and Australia in the world of which we are a part.

Now I understand the theme for EXPO '88 is leisure in the age of technology. Well leisure is not really one of my strong points and if anyone says here here, it's probably my husband. I prefer to look at it like this. The purpose of technology is not just to make our leisure more fun, but to enable as many people as possible to live as full a life as possible.

Let's just see how technology has done that. For instance, the marvellous story of Kay Carty who in June completed the first solo sail by a woman around the world, after a hole in the heart operation. What a fantastic achievement. She also takes top prize for understatement—I just went out for a sail, she said. If she had opted for leisure, she would never have achieved what she did.

Take too the crew of "Young Endeavour", which has also been mentioned. I don't suppose they had a leisurely journey either from Britain to Australia.

Then again there was the Australian team which this year was the first ever to climb Everest without the help of sherpas. That wasn't done by leisure, but by a sense of purpose and achievement.

The message is that technology brings new opportunities for achievement and it's the achievement that comes before the leisure.

You in Queensland know all about that. The frontier values of self-reliance and hard work are strong here and the results are clear in the tremendous development which has taken place and I have noticed it very much since I first visited your state in 1972.

Now it has been said that Australia is a lucky country. Well I believe the harder you work, the greater your luck and that's what has happened here.

In Britain too we are busy restoring the values which made us great once and are now making us great again. We believe that you have to give people something to go for. We give them a ladder of opportunity and invite them to climb as high as they can. The sky is the limit and it's[fo 1] working. More and more people owning their own home, owning shares, having a stake in society, having something to leave to their children, being interested in the future and when you get that, you create the climate in which enterprise, invention and high technology can flourish.

They in turn create more wealth which gives people a far wider choice as to how they spend their leisure time.

The British stand here at EXPO will show you what we have done and what is in prospect, what an exciting, challenging prospect it is, with technology constantly opening up new possibilities.

Better health care, worldwide financial dealing at the touch of a button, easier travel, new ways to teach and learn. New ways to help the disabled to lead a fuller life.

But it doesn't just happen. You don't find any silicon Valleys in the Soviet Union. You have to create the conditions first and that is what you are doing in Queensland and what we are doing in Britain.

That is the lesson of the fantastic prosperity and progress being achieved by the countries around the Pacific Rim. That is the lesson which we in Britain are now re-learning and which I believe will make us number one in Europe and a great and suitable partner for Australia in the Pacific.

And so you will see here at EXPO '88 the roots of your past and our past in Magna Carta, in Parliamentary democracy, in the ideals of freedom and justice. Your past and our past. Today we are establishing the roots of our future, your future and our future.

It was the courage to face change that made Australia the proud nation we see at the Bicentennial. It will be the courage to use technological change that will put her right up front in the coming years.

May the partnership between us, which was founded on history, go forth into the future on common ideals, mutual affection and high regard each for the other.

It is a privilege to be asked to open British Day at this great EXPO. May I congratulate you and wish us a great future for us all in the years that are yet to be.