Bonsoir. Votre Excellence Monsieur Lecourtier, Monsieur le Président Germain, Votre Excellence le Haut-Commissaire Lataste, les membres du Gouvernement de Nouvelle-Calédonie, des représentants du corps diplomatique, my colleague Senator Chris Back, invités distingués, mesdames et messieurs.
Je suis ravie d'être présente ce soir pour accueillir officiellement le Président Germain et le Haut Commissaire Lataste en Australie.
La République française garde une place très spéciale dans le coeur des Australiens, et la Nouvelle-Calédonie est une de nos plus proches voisines.
Pendant les periodes de la guerre et de la paix, les Australiens et nos amis français ont résisté l’ennemi côte à côte.
L’amitié entre nos deux pays est fondée sur des principes communs de la liberté et de la promotion de la démocratie.
Thousands of tourists visit France and New Caledonia every year, and we were thrilled to be welcoming record numbers of French visitors to our shores.
We were also very pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with New Caledonia last year, to ensure students in both of our countries have the opportunity to learn about each other in our respective curricula.
The strong links between our people naturally flow on to create strong economic links.
In 2015, Australia was ranked as the 11th highest destination for New Caledonian merchandise exports.
Australia was the 6th highest source of imported merchandise into New Caledonia, including products such as petroleum gases and bread, pastry, cakes and biscuits.
There is significant untapped potential in the Australia-New Caledonia trade relationship.
So I am pleased that Australia and New Caledonia business officials will have the opportunity on Friday to come together at the annual Australia New Caledonia Business Forum in Brisbane.
I also want to acknowledge the contribution the Australian Pacific Islands Business Council is making to promote economic integration and private sector led economic growth in the region.
Of course our Governments also enjoy a very deep and longstanding relationship.
Last year we marked 75 years of Australian representation in New Caledonia, a testament to the depth and strength of the relationship.
What is less known perhaps, at least in the public conscience, is that our Consulate-General in Noumea was Australia’s 4th diplomatic post to open after London, Washington and Ottawa.
Together we cooperate in a growing number of fields, including in science, education, the environment and many more.
France has of course long been an important partner for Australia in the Pacific region and beyond.
The historic decision by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in September to accept New Caledonia and French Polynesia as members holds great promise for our future collaboration.
This decision is recognition of the role of New Caledonia and French Polynesia as active and valued associate members of the Forum for many years now.
We see real benefits to the Forum of greater integration between the French Territories and Pacific Island Forum members, which I am sure we will discuss at the 2017 Pacific Community conference in Noumea.
Closer integration within the region also offers an opportunity for increased economic activity and expanded trade.
Australia is very keen to expand our trade and economic ties with New Caledonia, including through your participation in PACER Plus.
Promoting trade and investment in our region is a key part of the Australian Government’s economic diplomacy agenda.
We see real benefits from New Caledonia’s full membership of the Pacific Island Forum beyond trade and we look forward to the substantive contribution New Caledonia will make on critical issues facing the region.
Deeper regional integration by France also creates an opportunity for further cooperation on regional security.
We value our longstanding, constructive engagement in maritime surveillance, disaster relief and defence engagement and France’s significant contribution to the region, including through the European Union.
The importance of our Defence relationship with French forces in the Pacific was highlighted in Australia’s recent Defence White Paper.
It was also demonstrated when the Australia, France and New Zealand FRANZ Arrangement partners responded together to Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji in February this year and with Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu last year.
France’s substantial contribution to relief efforts in the region, continue to reaffirm the importance of the FRANZ Arrangement as a platform for effective disaster relief operations in the Pacific.
For Australia there is no more pressing need for regional action than in the areas of climate change and resilient development.
This is why we are continuing to work energetically with Pacific Partner countries and regional organisations to build resilience and manage the impacts of climate change.
New Caledonia has its own contribution to make here.
The outcome in Paris last year at COP21was a turning point.
The world has agreed to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.
I want to acknowledge and thank France for the crucial role it played in producing a successful and historic COP21.
We are proud of the role that Australia played in helping to secure this historic agreement, which will soon come into force.
Australia is building on the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to support practical action to address the challenges of climate and disasters.
I would also like to acknowledge the constructive role played by the Pacific Island Countries in Paris.
We welcome the decision by Pacific Island Forum Leaders to endorse the framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.
This Framework reflects the Pacific region’s response to the major international developments on climate change and disaster risk management.
We look forward to working with all of you towards a very successful COP 22 Conference in Marrakesh.
We value our longstanding, constructive engagement in regional maritime surveillance, disaster relief and defence engagement, much of which is coordinated out of Noumea.
Here again I wish to acknowledge and welcome High Commissioner Lataste and we look forward to working with you on Pacific issues.
En conclusion, Mesdames et messieurs, je suis encouragé par notre volonté collective pour renforcer l’engagement entre nos deux pays.
Je souhaite revoirla Nouvelle-Calédonie très bientôt.
En fait, depuis la date que je suis devenue la ministre de l'Australie pour le développement international et le Pacifique, je l'ai fait ma mission à visiter autant de pays de la région que je puisse.
J’attends avec impatience encore soixante quinze (75) ans d’affaires étrangères fortes et prospères entre la Nouvelle-Calédonie et l'Australie, et je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès pendant votre visite en Australie.
Je vous remercie.
Vive la France, vive l’Australie!
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