It was the A-list of Australian politicians and business leaders at Sydney's iconic Town Hall.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was flanked by the likes of Westfield Chairman Frank Lowy, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey and Premier of New South Wales Barry O'Farrell as he prepared to deliver the Lowy Institute's annual Lowy Lecture late Thursday.
Murdoch, Australian by birth, American by naturalisation, and the executive chairman of the News Corp & chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, delivered a speech that lauded Australia's potential to become the world's "disruptive" economy.
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The event, which had a fair bit of police security outside, saw some of Australia's top corporate and economic minds gather under one roof including Telstra CEO David Thodey, Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev, casino mogul James Packer, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens.
Murdoch's message was simple: Despite humble beginnings, Australia can become a great economic powerhouse. Not necessarily by size, but by the sheer talent of its population.
Australia's economy has proved resilient in recent years, helped by a boom in the mining sector amid strong demand from China. But as mining investment has slowed, new sources of growth have remained elusive – posing a challenge to an economy that has not seen a recession in 22 years.
Murdoch talked about the importance of immigration, and likened the country to the perceived American melting pot. He noted however that at 25 percent, the percentage of immigrants in Australia was double that of the U.S. and as a result, provided a much richer talent base.
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In his speech, he kept referring to Australia as an "egalitarian meritocracy," a country where not only is everyone equal on all counts, but also where socio-political status was determines by one's achievements.
He referred to young Australians who were changing the world, especially in the areas of science and medicine, and he said if the country can capitalize on this sort of innovation and become a "disruptive economy," the 21st century would be "Australia's to take."
He also lauded how technology is making life better, and longer, and showed the audience the Jawbone wrist bracelet that he wears to monitor his eating, sleeping and movement habits.
Murdoch said his father instilled a sense in him that Australia would one day go from a settlement of convicts, to a great leader on the world stage.
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Despite the fact that he originally gave up his Australian citizenship in 1985 to pursue his ambitions to become a television broadcasting force in the United States, he sounded a note of Aussie pride in his comments.
Hugs, back-slaps, and handshakes greeted Murdoch following his comments.
After the event which lasted just over two-and-a-half hours, there was just one lone elderly protester outside with a small placard on his chest that simply said: "Go home Mr Mrudoch."
A polite way to end an extravagant evening.
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