Held at the Tivoli Room, Rooty Hill RSL Club on 19 July 2013, the dinner with the Prime Minister was organised by the Filipino Friends of the Labor Party. More specifically, it was in coordination with the office of Hon. Ed Husic MP, Federal Member for Chifley.
The huge venue was naturally jam packed with several Filipinos, many of whom are known members of the Labor Party. Very visible in her flaming red glittering dress was Rizza McInnes escorted by her husband Paul.
Also seen was Neil Galang of Marayong Branch who presented the PM with a native Barong Tagalog. I bumped into Filipino writer Marilie Bomediano who asked me to sign a petition for a carer’s visa for the nonagenarian mother of Violi Calvert. Of course, there was Joy Laquian who sang the Australian National Anthem and Lucas Cayanan of ALP Doonside Branch who delivered the Invocation.
I arrived a bit late. That was probably the reason why my assigned seat as an accredited member of media was already occupied. Thanks to Auseela Thanaphongsakorn. who escorted me to a table which was a mile away from the stage. It was just in time for the arrival of Kevin Rudd.
His opening line caused laughter. He made an attempt to impress the Filipino crowd by using a few phrases in Tagalog which he expectedly mispronounced. Mr. Rudd said “TutuluGan ko kayo.” He missed the letter “N.” What he meant was “tutuluNgan ko kayo” (I will help you) instead of “I will sleep…) Anyway, he said “that was my very best Tagalog and I love the Philippines. I love Manila. I love Manila Bay. I love Puerto Azul. Thank you for making your home in Australia.”
“Our plans for the future”
After the brief pleasantries, Mr. Rudd defined where the nation stands and his plans for the future. “We in government believe profoundly that our first responsibility is to ensure that our economy is strong. Without a strong economy, most other things are not possible. The strength of our economy requires continued and careful attention. That’s why the previous Labor Government led by [former] Prime Minister Paul Keating did the right thing… that’s why when the Global Financial Crisis hit, we did the right thing by the Australian economy when many criticized us for doing so… and that’s why we determine to do so again with the new challenges which lie around the corner...”
“We will guarantee everyone’s bank deposit in Australia”
“As a result, not a single bank collapsed and not a single person lost his bank deposit in the great financial institutions in this country. No small thing. But if you look around the world, it wasn’t all like that. People lost their deposit. Banks collapsed all around the world.”
“The government will provide a sovereign guarantee”
“When the banks said to me — we can’t lend anymore because small businesses are frankly not viable. They were going to cut off the arteries of credit to those who need to make a decision to employ people… ”
“We said NO! We will provide you the bank with a sovereign guarantee to underpin your lending to the rest of the world. And guess what happened?
They did. They drew on every piece of guarantee that we had. Our economy almost uniquely in the world had the continued flow of the lines of international credit through to our financial institutions. Our banks continued lending. They kept our small businesses afloat…”
“In 2008, no one was sacked over Christmas. That’s what Australian Labor Governments do…”
Mr. Rudd concluded his speech by declaring that “Labor’s job is to make the Australian economy globally competitive.”