Speech in Celebration of Australia Day 2017
(Delivered by H E John Pilbeam, Australian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago at the Reception held on 27 January 2017)
Hon Chief Justice, Mr Justice Ivor Archie
Pres. of the Senate, Sen. the Hon Christine Kangaloo
Min ofForeign&CARICOM Affairs, Sen the Hon Dennis Moses
Other Government Ministers
Other members of the Senate and the House of Representatives
Senior Members of the Protective Services
Senior Government officials
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Other distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for honouring Australia and everyone at the Australian High Commission with your presence tonight.
I know from personal experience that Saddle Road isn’t the smoothest flowing traffic artery in all of Trinidad, particularly on a Friday evening, and I appreciate your commitment to attend. I hope, most of all, that you will all enjoy this evening.
Australia Day marks the arrival in Sydney Cove on the 26th of January 1788 of the First Fleet of settlers sent by Britain.
Like most of those came from across the sea to the Caribbean, most of those who travelled to Australia on the First Fleet didn’t have much of a say in the matter – they were convicts in shackles or soldiers on duty.
And as was unfortunately also the case in the Caribbean, Australia’s Indigenous people didn’t have much of a say on that 26th of January either. Many sad days followed and I take the opportunity now to acknowledge their status as custodians of our land.
It’s perhaps not something countries are boasting of so much these days, but Australia is one of the World’s most multicultural countries. 16% of us speak a foreign language at home – and, besides English, another 200 languages are spoken, with Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic and Vietnamese the big ones. 27% of us were born outside Australia.
Around 200,000 new immigrants are admitted annually, including almost 14,000 under the humanitarian program and in late-2015 Australia agreed to take an extra group of 12,000 Syrians. Just over half of Australia’s population growth now comes from immigration.
There has been prejudice, but immigration helps the nation get richer, culturally and economically. And if that means dealing with a slightly different, slightly more complicated, society each year, most Australians are willing to make adjustments.
It perhaps helps that Australia is currently enjoying its twenty-sixth successive year of economic growth – much of it fuelled by immigration - and that Australians have seen, over the generations, that a country, like a sporting team, can be stronger, not in spite of its differences, but because of them.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Over the last year, the High Commission has worked hard to improve the useful and very friendly relations Australia has with all fourteen of our countries of accreditation.
We’ve worked in many fields with Trinidad and Tobago. This year, there’s been a special focus on forging links between our indigenous peoples, and I’m delighted to see the heads of the Santa Rosa First People’s Community here tonight.
We’ve also worked on giving you all a taste of our Indigenous civilisation. Civilisations only last the distance when their people are in harmony with their environment and each other, and the Australian Aboriginal civilisation is among the very oldest on earth. Our Torres Strait Islander civilisation is a bit more recent – it dates back to the days of Greece and Rome.
So I hope many of you were able to see the Indigenous dance group Descendance, which we brought it to Port of Spain in April/May last year, and to meet Descendance cast members Dion and Les when we brought them back in October to perform and teach at National Heritage Week. This year, we’d be delighted if you dropped in on an exhibition on Aboriginal bark painting we’re expecting to bring you in early-May.
You’ll know that the relationship between the first Australians and all those who arrived much later hasn’t always been happy. We’ve learned from some of our mistakes, but there’s still a lot of work to be done with indigenous people in Australia and around the world.
So in the Caribbean, we’ve worked through our Direct Aid Program in the poorer countries to provide clean water to indigenous communities and help screen remote populations for cervical cancer. Helping indigenous persons to overcome social and economic disadvantages will be one of the issues that we’ll push in the UN’s Human Rights Council if we’re elected in November.
Ladies and Gentlemen
There are other areas of cooperation between Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. There’s BHP Billiton’s deep-water drilling program, there have been discussions on issues as diverse as next year’s Commonwealth Games, climate change, road safety and combatting violent extremism.
And from here in Port of Spain we reach out to the region, keeping in touch with thirteen other governments across the Caribbean, discussing problems and helping where we can, including when major disasters strike – when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti last October we quickly provided around 13 million TTDollars through international agencies.
We also facilitate sporting exchanges. Netball’s been OK and the Olympics went reasonably well for us, and I must of course congratulate the West Indies men’s, women’s and Under 19 cricket teams for winning all those World Cups. Maybe that’s all I’ll say on cricket this year – I’ve heard that for us 2016 was “a year of team-building”.
One personal note – tonight is the last Australia Day in Port of Spain for my Deputy Tracey Haines who leaves in the summer. I’d like to acknowledge before you all the immense debt I owe her. Without her efforts, there certainly would not have been two Descendance visits here last year. I think the saying is “cock crow, but hen lay egg”.
And to Lisa and all those at the High Commission who worked tirelessly to make all the arrangements for Australia Day 2017 work, and who serenely tolerated my anxious questions, thank-you very much. Tonight wouldn’t have happened without you.
Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen
Could I ask you all to join me in a toast to the friendly relations which so happily prevail between our two countries, and to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago?
Australian Leader congratulates Haitians on their National Day!
The Governor-General of Australia, H.E. General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove, has conveyed his warmest wishes to the Government and people of Haiti on the occasion of Haiti’s 214th Anniversary of Independence on 1 January 2017.
Happy Independence Day to Barbados!
Australia's message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sends our warmest wishes for the 50th Independence Anniversary.
Happy Independence Day to the Republic of Suriname!
Australia's message from HE General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK Mc (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, sends our warmest wishes for the 41st Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Suriname.
Happy Independence Day to the Commonwealth of Dominica!
Australia's message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sends our warmest wishes for the 38th Anniversary of the Independence of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Happy Independence Day to Antigua and Barbuda!
Australia's message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sends our warmest wishes for the 35th Independence Anniversary
UNESCO World Heritage Committee unanimously backs Australia's management of The Great Barrier Reef
On 1 July, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee unanimously backed Australia’s management of the iconic Great Barrier Reef, with their decision that the Reef is not World Heritage ‘in danger’.
The decision acknowledges the strong response that the Australian and Queensland governments have put in place through the development and implementation of the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
The Reef is a complex and dynamic marine environment. At over 340 000km2, it is the size of Italy. Its ecological complexity is mirrored by its social and economic complexity – the Reef is, and has always been, a multi-use area with an abundance of habitats and ecosystems as well as active ports, a fishing industry, a growing population and deeply connected Indigenous traditional owners. The Reef remains a tourist destination of unparalleled beauty.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world, and we intend to keep it that way.
Read more about Australia’s efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef here
Download your copy of Australia's Long Term Sustainability Plan or the Great Barrier Reef here.
WARNING: Jobs/Phishing Scam Alert
The Australian High Commission advises all persons interested in visiting, working or living in Australia to please be aware of a number of Job Scams that may be related to Phishing Scams.
Social media sites and the wider Internet present many opportunities to earn extra money; many of which are not legitimate. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Always ensure that any potential employers and requests are legitimate and be wary of the following:
* Any job where you are asked to accept and transfer money from one bank account to another.
* Being asked for your bank account number or for the bank account number of another person so that someone’s salary or money owing to them can be credited to the account.
* Instructions to forward funds to persons abroad.
* Visa application through third parties/agents and invitations to live in Australia.
Approaching entry into Force: Australia ratifies the Arms Trade Treaty
On 3 June Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) New York, His Excellency Gary Quinlan deposited Australia\'s instrument of ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at an event held at the UN New York to mark the first anniversary of the Treaty\'s opening for signature. Seven other States (Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Samoa) also deposited their instruments of ratification at the event, bringing the total number of ratifications to 40.
An additional 10 ratifications are now needed to trigger the Treaty's entry into force. The ATT ratification ceremony took place during an event co-chaired by Australia and Trinidad and Tobago, with the co-sponsorship of the seven other ratifying States and Japan.
The full text of HE Quinlan's speech following the deposit of Australia's instrument of ratification can be downloaded here.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop also issued a Press Release on the ratification event which can be downloaded here.
An Op-ed on the significance of the Arms Trade Treaty by Minister Julie Bishop can be downloaded here.
Australia's New Website: Trade at A Glance
The Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb recently launched a new website which explores Australia’s trade with the world.
The website, Australia’s Trade at a Glance, is an interactive portal presenting key trade data including Australia’s major trading partners, imports, exports, trade by state and territory and trade with countries of the G20 and APEC.
Mr Robb said trade is an essential component of the Australian economy, with it accounting for one in five jobs.
“This government has a particularly ambitious trade and investment agenda and we are keen to communicate its importance to Australia’s continued prosperity. This web site brings a range of information about our trading relations with the world within easy reach,” he said.
“This year Australia will host its largest ever gathering of world leaders at the G20 summit in Brisbane. This website shows Australia’s deep trading links with our G20 partners, who together, account for over 76% of world trade and 86% of global GDP,” Mr Robb said.
The website was developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and for the first time brings together information from a variety of publications in one location.
Australia’s Trade at a Glance is available at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/australias-trade-at-a-glance/