Can I start by acknowledging His Excellency Charles Lepani, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp and many other distinguished members of the diplomatic Corp, Reverand Roy [Saipaia] and the wonderful singers who performed that beautiful opening prayer.
Founder and Director of Pacific Runway Fashion Failepou Peni and all of your team, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am so pleased to be able to join you this evening for the second Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza, showcasing the beauty and creativity of the Pacific islands.
When Her Excellency Hinauri Petana mentioned to me at the French Embassy when President Germain visited recently that this event was happening, I immediately said yes, I would love to come!
As you can see, I have well and truly joined the spirit of tonight’s event by wearing one of my own creations! And in honour of you, [Failepou Peni], I bought the material in Samoa and I made it myself.
That is my tribute to you.
As Minister for International Development and the Pacific, I have travelled throughout Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and have seen the exceptional creative skills of the Pacific people.
Skills developed over thousands of years, used to represent the traditions and cultures of the islands.
Today, these creative skills also bring economic opportunity to families and communities.
Which is why it is so important to nurture these skills, and bring them to an international audience.
In Australia, our creative industries, like fashion, music and the arts, contribute $90 billion to our economy.
The fashion industry alone employs over 220,000 people and has an annual turnover of $12 billion.
Imagine the possibilities if we connect the Pacific fashion industry to a global audience.
The Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza aims to do just that.
The Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza showcases the creativity, sophistication and diversity of the Pacific.
It represents a traditional past, and an exciting future.
This year’s Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza features 26 designers from six Pacific island countries.
You are all ambassadors for your countries.
Your exciting creations represent the fusion of deep cultures and new technologies.
They evoke the beauty and traditions of the Pacific in modern designs.
And they bring the Pacific islands to a new audience.
Here in Australia, we recognise ‘fashion diplomacy’ as an important element of our foreign policy.
We promote Australian fashion designers overseas, we nurture emerging talent and assist Australian fashion businesses as they seek to operate on the world stage.
I am so pleased that, through Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, and its sponsorship of events like the Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza, we can also work with Pacific fashion designers to bring their talent to audiences in Australia and around the world.
The Australian Government is pleased to support Pacific Islands Trade and Invest Sydney with annual funding of $2.5 million in its work program that includes trade, investment and tourism promotion, the development of creative industries and targeted assistance for women-led businesses.
I must mention the important role the creative industries play in empowering women.
Empowering women and girls is a focus of Australia’s aid program, and something I am passionate about.
In so many cultures, women are the custodians of traditional craft skills used for clothing and homewares.
These skills can also serve as an important source of income.
Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, through its cultural industries strategy, is helping women throughout the region to create high-quality craft products for sale to a global audience.
They are also helping these women build strong, sustainable businesses through partnerships with investors and buyers in Australia. This in turn is adding to the economic prosperity and stability of our region.
I would like to close by congratulating everyone involved in the Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza tonight.
The designers, the organisers, and the sponsors.
I am so pleased to be joining you tonight for this, the second Pacific Runway Fashion Extravaganza, and wish you the very best for this show and for the future.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555