26 Janaury 2023
Australia Day 2023 Remarks, Charge d'Affaires Keara Shaw
- His Excellency, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, President of the Republic of Mauritius
- The Honourable Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius
- His Excellency, Mr Eddy Boissezon, Vice President of the Republic of Mauritius
- The Honourable Mr Steven Obeegadoo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning and Minister of Tourism
- The Honourable Mr Sooroojdev Phokeer, Speaker of the National Assembly,
- Dr the Honourable Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government, Disaster and Risk Management,
- The Honourable Mr Alan Ganoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade,
- Honourable Ministers,
- Members of the National Assembly
- Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps
- Colleagues from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Ministries
- His Worship, Hans Berty Margueritte, Mayor of Curepipe,
- Distinguished guests and fellow Australians
We are very honoured to have you here this evening to celebrate Australia Day.
It is a time to reflect on Australia’s past and our journey to becoming the diverse multicultural nation that we are today.
Here in Mauritius, it is a time to reflect on our long-shared journey of friendship and the strong ties that bind our peoples and enrich both our countries.
Australia and Mauritius are natural partners. We are island nations and neighbours in the Indian Ocean.
And we are both vibrant democracies.
As a vibrant democracy, we listen to the voices of all our people. That is why it is widely acknowledged in Australia that this, our national day, is a difficult one for our First Nations people. It marks the arrival of the first fleet of settler ships in 1788 which began the dispossession of our first nations people.
The Government is now working to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in our Constitution. And we recognise that our history did not begin on this day in 1788 but that Australia is the proud home to the oldest continuous civilisation on earth, dating back at least 60,000 years.
Around Australia today – celebrations reflect who we are today. There are official awards for Australians from all walks of life who contribute to their communities.
And there are citizenship ceremonies. Today we are welcoming 19,000 new citizens. As a nation with people from more than 300 different ancestries, we share common ground with so many of the world’s peoples. And half of us were born overseas or have a parent born overseas.
Of course, Mauritians are a significant part of this picture. We are home to Mauritius’ second largest diaspora. And they are flourishing. We currently have two Mauritian parliamentarians, so you are well represented in Australia.
While this year will mark 53 years of diplomatic relations, the relationship is ultimately based on links between people. These links go back much further. For example, in the early 1800s, Australia sought Mauritian expertise to build Queensland’s sugar industry. Subsequently, Australian experts worked with Mauritius on the mechanisation of the sugar industry, part of a long and rich partnership of technology exchange.
It is good to see that this exchange of expertise and technology between our two countries is continuing.
Recent research links include:
- a program for Australia’s CSIRO to host Mauritians to exchange expertise on the sustainable use and management of blue carbon ecosystems including mangroves and seagrass
- research on long COVID and links with diabetes.
- Curtin University is setting up a Centre for Marine Science and Technology in partnership with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute
These research exchanges are part of a fantastic and growing set of partnerships between Mauritian and Australian education institutions.
Curtin University is our only university campus in Africa and has a broad student base that supports Mauritius’ plan to become an education hub for Africa.
There are now 10 Australian education institutions that have links with Mauritian counterparts and over 800 students graduated last year with Australian qualifications – without leaving Mauritius.
We’ve also been pleased to see the West Australian primary school curriculum enriching the choices available for younger children at Dukesbridge.
And it was wonderful that this partnership led to a visit by the Mauritian Ombudsperson for Children to Western Australia last month to share experience on education for children with special needs.
I am really pleased to see that Australia remains one of the top destinations for Mauritian students.
So many of these alumni go on bring the best of Australia back to Mauritius, forging connections in academia, business and government.
Here tonight we have some of our brilliant alumni serving at the highest levels in government and industry. I’ve been given a list but its too long. I’d also like to offer a special shout out to our alumni association that works to nurture ongoing links.
Mauritius has an impressive record of diversifying its economy across many sectors – one sector where we are particularly proud to be collaborating is the blue economy.
To name just a few activities underway:
- University of the Sunshine Coast is collaborating with the Ministry of Blue Economy on a pilot project to boost sea cucumber production.
- WA company, RPS, is working with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute on software to map ocean currents and respond to oil spill and search and rescue operations.
- And, an expert from Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority is providing remote technical assistance as part of the UN international response to the grounding of FV YU FENG.
As partners in the Indian Ocean, Australia is also pleased to be working through the Indian Ocean Rim Association to build a stable and prosperous Indian Ocean region.
We value Mauritius’ partnership not just in IORA but in other multilateral institutions, especially the United Nations. These forums have a critical role to play in helping to secure a global rules-based order.
As our Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in her address to the UN General Assembly last September:
It is up to all of us to create the kind of world to which we aspire – stable, peaceful, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty.
That is the very rationale for the United Nations itself.
And no challenge is more consequential for the global community than tackling climate change. Like Mauritius, Australia is working hard to achieve ambitious renewable energy targets.
Australia and Mauritius are also cooperating in the international system, for example our strong advocacy to finalise the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) for Small Island Developing States.
We provided $2 million last year to the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub, hosted here in Mauritius.
And the High Commission is working on numerous projects to build climate resilience. We have just reached agreement with the Indian Ocean Commission to deploy a Disaster Risk Reduction specialist who can share lessons learned from Pacific islands.
Finally, to come to the trade connections between our two countries. In particular tonight, I would like to celebrate the Australia food and wine that has been embraced by the Mauritian market.
Australia is known for high-quality produce and a range of sophisticated new world wines.
I am very pleased that we can share some of that with you tonight.
I would like to thank Fine Foods Marketing, Panagora, Audacity Wines and PhoenixBev for the wonderful Gourmet Australia showcase that the companies have put on for this Australia Day which I invite you to enjoy.
Dear guests thank you for joining us this Australia Day.