TONY Abbott has presented a speech at his old alma mater, Queens College at Oxford University, to the Oxford University Australia and New Zealand Society. The address, on 14 December 2012, is part of a five-day visit of the Opposition leader to Britain.
It marked the first time Mr Abbott had spoken at the college since he completed a masters degree in politics and philosophy as a Rhodes Scholar there more than three decades ago.
In his speech Mr Abbott praised the education he received at Oxford, acknowledging the system of interactive tutorials as “superb preparation” for his current role as opposition leader.
“After a few months of the tutorial system, it started to dawn on me that my tutors wanted my personal assimilation and personal appreciation of the issues under discussion, not a regurgitation of the authorities,” Mr Abbott said.
“Reading the best that’s been thought and said, forming one’s own conclusions and defending them against expert probing, is a superb preparation for any form of advocacy.”
London-born Mr Abbott gave credit to the influence of Britain on the Australian culture, language, system of law and parliamentary democracy.
“Australians shouldn’t be oblivious to our heritage just because we have refined it and improved it and because we also honour the way it has been added to and deepened by the people of many other cultures who have been attracted to it.
“Australia’s foreign policy should rightly have a Jakarta rather than a Geneva focus but Asia is not the only region where there will be an Australian citizen to be protected, an Australian interest to be advanced, or an Australian value to be upheld,” he told his audience.
On his visit to the UK Mr Abbott will also be meeting with leading Conservative Party figures, including Foreign Secretary William Hague and London Mayor Boris Johnson and up-and-coming Under-Secretary of State for Education, Liz Truss.
It has been reported that the Coalition is interested in the success of David Cameron’s ‘free schools’ model — schools that are directly funded by the central government and are free from the usual local authority control.
For a full transcript of the speech see: Tony Abbott’s address to Queen’s College, Oxford University.