Dear Members and Friends,
I would like to start by giving a very warm welcome to Lynette Wood, our new Acting High Commissioner. Lynette joined us last month and has already been very actively involved in many Australia/UK activities. Lynette is an accomplished diplomat. She was the Australian Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland and Lichtenstein from 2016 – 2020 and prior to that was Assistant Secretary in the Middle East Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade. I am sure you are all looking forward to meeting Lynette, if you have not done so already.
Our black tie Gala Dinner at The Savoy on 26 May celebrating our 50th anniversary was a huge success. We were thrilled to receive a personal letter from Her Majesty, a copy of which was included in our celebratory programme and which we have reproduced for you below. The dinner was attended by many B-AS Members and friends including the Acting High Commissioner, our State Agents-General, British MPs, numerous CEOs and representatives of large corporates with British and Australian interests, and the heads of various Australian organisations in the UK. We were pleased that Mr Paul Scully MP, the Rt Hon. Nigel Evans MP and the Rt Hon. John Spellar MP were able to join us as special guests. John Spellar is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Australia and NZ. We were also delighted to welcome several members of the Australia-Britain Society who flew over for the occasion.
At the Gala Dinner we screened video messages of congratulations from the UK Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Boris Johnson MP, and His Excellency the Hon. David Hurley AC DSC (retd), Governor-General of Australia. Our President, Lord Hague, made a relevant and entertaining keynote speech that we all enjoyed.
Our B-AS Award was presented to Samantha Cohen CVO in recognition of her outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting the British-Australian relationship. Samantha has done many things in her fascinating and varied career working both in Australia and the UK, including spending 18 years working for Her Majesty, the Queen, and HRH, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Samantha is now Director of Office for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And, to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations, we honoured Michael Whalley OAM with a B-AS Lifetime Contribution Award. Many of you know Michael and I am sure you will agree that he has worked tirelessly to support UK-Australia relations and has been an active participant in various Anglo-Australian groups for almost 50 years. Congratulations again to both Samantha and Michael. Some photos of this magnificent event are below and further photos will be available soon on our website.
Saturday 12 May saw a huge pre-polling turnout at Australia House. B-AS partner, the Friends of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, hosted an incredibly successful sausage sizzle outside Australia House manned by several members of the RFDS Friends in the UK Board (including my wife Jacqui) and the Acting High Commissioner. The sun shone, everyone enjoyed a "democracy sausage" and all profits went to a wonderful cause. Please scroll down for a photo of this fabulous initiative.
We now of course have a new Australian Prime Minister. I have written to the Prime Minister, the Hon. Anthony Albanese MP, on behalf of the B-AS to congratulate him on becoming Australia's 31st Prime Minister. We hope to meet up with him in London in due course.
I am also delighted to let you know that Britain-Australia Society Member, the Hon. Jeannie Lopes, joined our Board in May. I am sure Jeannie is well-known to many of you already. Amongst other things, Jeannie is the UK Ambassador for Advance. Jeannie hails from Tasmania and was educated in NSW and the US before coming to London in 1990 where she worked for the BBC, later joining a number of not-for-profit boards. Jeannie currently also serves on the Australian Advisory Board of the Global Foundation.
May saw the fourth episode of our "First Eight" lecture series delivered by the Australian National University's Dr David Headon talking about the life and times of Sir Edmund Barton, Australia's very first Prime Minister. We were thrilled to be joined by Bill Barton, Sir Edmund's great-grandson, who brought along some memorable family artefacts to display. With a fascinating introduction from our Deputy High Commissioner (and B-AS Board Member), Ms Julie Heckscher, we launched Dr Headon's manuscript on Prime Minister Barton. We have three copies to give away to B-AS Members this month. Please read on for entry details. The team from the Australian Studies Institute from ANU will be back in late 2023 to deliver the next in this very popular series of lectures.
This week the whole country will be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I know many of you up and down the country will be acknowledging this milestone event in some way over the Platinum Jubilee long weekend. Our friends from the Australia-Britain Society are holding a Platinum Jubilee dinner in Sydney on 8 June with the Hon. John Howard proposing the Loyal Toast and the Hon. Michael Kirby making the keynote speech. We wish them all the best on this wonderful occasion.
In honour of the Platinum Jubliee, we have a very special offer for our Members this month. We have TWO PAIRS of tickets to give away to TWO lucky Members (and their guests) to tour the Buckingham Palace State Rooms on Saturday 23 July 2022. Please scroll down for entry details. To become a Member of the B-AS please click here.
Our Summer Party is taking place on 15 June in the beautiful gardens of the Royal Over-Seas League. We will be joined by our friends at Yalumba who are providing some delicious wines. This event sold out in a matter of minutes. However, we are delighted to announce that ROSL has very kindly now offered us exclusive use of their garden which has allowed us to accommodate many who were on our wait list. If any B-AS Members would still like the opportunity to attend this party, please do get in touch with us here and we can add you to the wait list. We always do our very best to accommodate our Members.
Please do save the date of Wednesday 5 October for our annual President's Reception with Lord Hague in the glorious surrounds of the Exhibition Hall, Australia House. Further details of this very popular event will be released in due course.
We always love to hear news from our Members and we were thrilled to learn that long-standing Member, Lindsay Birrell, was last month presented with the Outstanding Service Award at the CPA Australia Awards - London. Congratulations Lindsay. Congratulations also to young B-AS Member, Edward Hoddle, who was the lucky winner of our Chelsea Flower Show ticket draw. A fabulous picture of Edward amongst the flowers is below! Congratulations also to Thomas Johnston who won our tickets to the Military Musical Spectacular.
Finally, this month we welcome a new Corporate Member to the B-AS. The very popular restaurant group, Granger & Co., has joined us. Spearheaded by iconic Australian chef and food writer, Bill Granger, we wish the team a very big welcome from all of us at the B-AS. Please look out for a very special offer for all of you from Granger & Co. in our July newsletter!
Damian J. Walsh