Dear Members and Friends
A very happy new year to you all and I hope you had a lovely and relaxing Christmas and New Year break. For those of you who had the opportunity to travel further afield over the last few weeks - welcome back!
Last year ended on a high with the signing in December of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement. In January, UK and Australian ministers concluded vital defence and security talks following the first Australia/UK Foreign and Defence Ministerial meetings (AUKMIN) since the start of the pandemic. Our bilateral relationship only grows from strength to strength and we will continue to celebrate this at our events in 2022.
There has been considerable change in the representation of the Australian States in the UK. The NSW Agent General's Office is opening again in London after a 30-year hiatus with Stephen Cartwright OAM taking up the post of Agent General this month. Stephen is joining Tim Dillon, Agent General for Victoria, and more recently arrived Agents General, Dave Stewart (Queensland), John Langoulant AO (Western Australia) and the Hon. David Ridgway (South Australia). We will have the opportunity to meet and hear from the States at our "Meet the Agents General" reception at the Royal Over-Seas League on 23 February. This will be a fabulous event (the Hon. George Brandis QC, Australian High Commissioner, will also be joining us). If you have not already secured your tickets, I would encourage you to follow this booking link now.
Our constitution requires that two of the States are represented ex-officio on the B-AS board and we are very pleased to announce that Tim and John have agreed to take up the roles left open when James Mraz returned to Adelaide and Mike Deeks CSC to Perth.
In December, our National Director, Louise Mulley, represented the B-AS at a ceremony held in the Exhibition Hall honouring the 100th birthday of London Legacy's oldest surviving legatee, war widow Mary Nicholson. We have more on that wonderful occasion below. Legacy, founded in Australia in 1923 to support the families of service men and women who have lost their lives or health in active conflict, continues to do great work today. Louise was honoured to be included in this celebration.
On 24 January, Louise and I attended the annual Admiral Arthur Phillip Commemoration Service at St Mary-le-Bow. Dr Tim Causer (Senior Research Fellow at the Bentham Project, UCL Laws) gave a poignant address drawing on Jeremy Bentham's hugely influential writings on criminal transportation and NSW. We were hosted by Sir Michael Savory, Chairman of the Admiral Phillip Memorial Trust, and delighted to be joined by Deputy High Commissioner, Julie Heckscher, together with many B-AS Members and friends.
On 9 February at 8am, we are co-hosting our very first event with the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with B-AS Corporate Member, bdhSterling. In a webinar entitled "The Best of Both Worlds", bdhSterling experts will explain the financial implications of splitting life between Australia and the UK. Please scroll down for details and please book now to avoid disappointment.
The highlight of this year will be, of course, our fabulous black tie Gala Dinner at the Savoy on 26 May 2022 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Britain-Australia Society. Details regarding ticket sales will be released shortly and this event will prove extremely popular so do keep an eye on your inboxes! Tables will be of 10 and we can of course accommodate individual ticket sales - however you may wish to start putting together a table of friends now. Tickets are £270 per person (including VAT) for a sparkling reception and 3 course dinner with entertainment in the magnificent Savoy ballroom - the venue of the very first Australia Club dinner in 1937. There will be many more surprises in store on the night!
We are also excited to announce another very special event on 16 March 2022. The Britain-Australia Society, the Canada-UK Foundation and the NZ Society (UK) will come together for a drinks reception in the glorious surrounds of Canada House with special welcomes from senior diplomats at the inaugural "Commonwealth Mixer". This is the first time all three societies have worked together. We hope to make this an annual event rotating across all three High Commissions. Spaces will be strictly limited and further details (including how to book) will be circulated shortly.
B-AS charity member, FANZA, has a very special offer for all B-AS supporters on Friday 11 February. Please join FANZA and the Anglo-Australasian Law Society for "An Evening of Fine Classical Fare" with award winning Australian musicians, mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and pianist/composer Joseph Haviat, together with New Zealand baritone Kieran Rayner. Please scroll down for booking details.
We have many other exciting and varied events in our 2022 pipeline so please do keep an eye on your inboxes and our website as we announce these. Our events are always very popular and sell out quickly. One way to keep in touch is to follow us on our newly relaunched Facebook and Instagram platforms - see the icons below. As always, Members have priority booking and preferential rates at all our events. To become a Member of the B-AS and take advantage of all our special offers and events, please click here. And please spread the word.
Congratulations to the winners of our draw in December for tickets to a performance by the Australia House Ensemble. This event was unfortunately postponed when Australia House was closed during Covid restrictions but a new date will be announced later this year.
Finally, I was extremely pleased to see that Dick Porter, Chairman of the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce, was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours. The award recognises Dick's enormous contribution to business and education and is very much deserved. A huge congratulations to Dick on this fabulous achievement.
Damian J. Walsh