Excellency, I am indeed delighted to join you to celebrate the two hundred and twenty-ninth (229th) anniversary of Australia Day, a significant milestone in your country’s history. Congratulations to the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of myself, Dr. the Honourable Keith Christopher Rowley, Prime Minister, and the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
‘Australia Day’ or the National Day of Australia as it is officially termed, commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of the first British colonists from Great Britain and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788, the founding day of the colony and the modern day country of Australia. This day has grown into a celebration of the resilience and diversity of the Australian people. Its rich history, remarkable achievements specifically in the areas of infrastructure, music, art, sports, science, invention and exploration, and its vision for continued progress in the future are exemplary.
It gives me great pleasure to state that 2017 marks the forty-eight anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, and the state of bilateral relations remains on a sound footing. As former British colonies, we have built on our common heritage and developed a robust bilateral relationship and collaborate in the multilateral fora on like-minded issues.
High Commissioner, Trinidad and Tobago has taken note and encouragement of Australia’s economic strength, stability and prosperity. We are thankful to our international partners, including Australia, for providing support in a number of areas, as we strive to meet our development goals. We also appreciate the corporate social responsibility of Australian firms operating in our energy sector, notably BHP Billiton that contributes to training and using local suppliers and employees.
Trinidad and Tobago has benefited from technical cooperation with Australia in the areas of trade and investment, scholarships and grants, the Australia Awards Initiative, and Direct Aid Programme geared towards promoting sustainable development and culture.
Cultural exchanges over the years have contributed to deeper people to people ties. Most notably, the Australian Indigenous Dance Group ‘Descendants,’ graced the shores of Trinidad and Tobago in April 2016. During that visit, our own Malick Folk Performers and the Shiv Shakti Dance Troup had the opportunity for cross cultural collaboration in dance.
Another more infamous area of cultural collaboration, and I daresay competition, is cricket! Although we have been competitors for much of the game, the age of T20 cricket has seen much collaboration between our players, much to the delight of cricket fans worldwide. In the Australian 2016/2017 Big Bash League, four Trinbagonians were selected to play on Australian teams. Also, an Australian National was appointed as the Head Coach of the Trinbago Knight Riders for the forthcoming Hero Caribbean Premier League Campaign!
From cricket to other multilateral fora, both Trinidad and Tobago and Australia have successfully carved a niche for themselves in the international community in various fields of endeavor, including our shared interest of Small Island Developing States. By building on our strengths and through mutual support in international fora, we seek to shape global affairs and ensure that the benefits of these efforts redound to the well-being of the Peoples of our countries.
Excellency, with education, sport and culture being fundamental to the overall development of future generations in Trinidad and Tobago, it is my desire that we continue to explore innovative ways for further collaboration in these areas with specific emphasis on the development of our young people. As we seek to diversify our economy, I should also like to explore cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, alternative and downstream energy and tourism.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I invite you raise your glasses and to join me in a toast to the Government and People of the Commonwealth of Australia in celebration of the 229th anniversary of Australia Day and to the friendly relations between our nations and people.
I thank you.