ABIE France Rentrée Dinner, 11 September 2019

It was a record crowd that filled the dining salon of the historic and elegant Aéro-Club de France for the annual ABIE France Rentrée Dinner on Wednesday, 11 September.

ABIE President Bernard Tabary welcomed members and guests, including a delegation from the state of Queensland led by Linda Apelt, Agent General for Queensland, who joined ABIE France as a Business Member earlier this year.

In his address, Mr Tabary acknowledged the terrible fires that have ravaged the northern state.

“Our hearts go out tonight to all the people of Queensland.”

It was a privilege to have as guest speaker Ross McInnes, Chairman of the Board, Safran, and Special Representative of the French Foreign Ministry for Economic Relations with Australia.

In a clever, concise speech, he took the political temperature of the world in 20 minutes, quipping that links between France and Australia were probably the best since Laperouse landed on the Sydney shores at the same time as Captain Phillip in 1788 (The two captains, however, never met).

Warning against what he called the growth of “The Terrible Twins” of nationalism and populism, he emphasized that populism had not taken root in Australia, “to its credit”.

“Australia believes in a rule-based world governance, and so does French President Macron. Both countries punch above their weight, and we can achieve things others cannot, or will not.”

Referring to the major submarine contract between the two countries, Mr McInnes noted that Australia was asserting its independence.

“The country is hedging its bets by building a strong defence system.”

Borrowing a phrase from former Labor Party Leader Kim Beazley, he said Australians want alliance, not compliance, and quoted a recent book on Australian defence policy:  “reliance then abandonment”.

Referring to Brexit, he said “don’t write the country off. There are trade opportunities in the context of Brexit, and I believe Australia will sign a free trade agreement with Britain … why not take the opportunity? You hold all the cards.”

This year’s edition of the annual Rentrée Dinner brought together over 70 guests, including annual corporate sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, represented by François Heritier, Simon Brown and Lachlan Evans who travelled from London for the occasion.

Event sponsor and Corporate member, Transdev, was represented by Anne de Bagneux, Group Director for Strategy and Transformation. Mr Tabary warmly thanked Transdev for its support of ABIE and for making the wonderful evening possible,  welcoming her to her first-ever ABIE event.

Colleagues from other ABIE organisations in Europe also attended, including Sabine Pittrof of the German Australian Business Council and 2019 Chair of the international network of Australian business associations, and Richard York from ABIE Czech.

ABIE France was delighted to welcome members of the Queensland delegation visiting France, including Milton Dick MP, Federal Member for Oxley, and Warren Bartlett, Deputy Trade and Investment Commissioner.

For more information about ABIE France events, click here.