ABIE France Webinar with Gillian Bird PSM, Australian Ambassador to France and Honorary President of ABIE France – 24 February 2021

The association between France and Australia’s new Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Gillian Bird, is deeply rooted, dating from her days as a student at ENA, and her first diplomatic posting at the OECD.  “France”, she said, “has always occupied a special place in my life.”

Australia’s former ambassador to the United Nations and ASEAN, Ambassador Bird was speaking to members and invitees of ABIE in a webinar on February 24.

Among those joining from the UK were Linda Apelt, Agent-General for Queensland, Michael Deeks, Agent-General for Western Australia, and from the Victorian Government Trade and Investment Office, UK, Europe & Israel, Julia Mills, Senior Director, Investment, UK & Europe and Arabella Rothwell, Victorian Strategic Advisor UK, Europe and Israel.

In a wide-ranging talk that highlighted the vitality and volume of trade between the two countries – in 2019/20 valued at $A10.6 billion – Ambassador Bird underlined the importance of ABIE France in extending Franco-Australian relations.

Speaking in French, she said much was owed to ABIE France for this dynamic development, and she warmly thanked ABIE France President Bernard Tabary and Vice-President Veronica Comyn and the ABIE team. “More than ever French and Australian entrepreneurs have need of your expertise and advice. And I am delighted and honoured to be named Honorary President of ABIE France.”

Describing Australia-France relations as being at an all-time high, Ambassador Bird noted there were approximately 600 French companies present in Australia, with French investment valued at E35.8 billion.

Flowing on from these close business links is the recent launch of the international research laboratory CROSSING, a partnership between ABIE France Corporate member Naval Group, France’s National Centre of Scientific Research, three Australian universities and IMT Atlantique, an elite French university that combines digital technology, energy and the environment.

A priority for the Embassy will be to build on Australia’s engagement with France in the low emissions technologies to support collective action against climate change.  A key emerging element of this is hydrogen, and Australia’s long-term goal of making Australia a global supplier of hydrogen.

“Australia continues to be a world leader in renewable energy – and French companies are a key part of that sector’s development”, she explained.

Australia’s and Europe’s moves towards sustainability is the subject of the ABIE network’s Business Leaders’ Roundtable webinar on Thursday, March 18 at 9:30am CET.  “Opportunities for a sustainability-driven recovery” is the title, and the event will bring together ABIE Corporate member Xavier Barbaro, Chairman and CEO of Neoen, Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia Pacific, and Roland Schmidt, MD Macquarie Capital, also an ABIE Corporate member.

Another interesting Australia-France event with powerful speakers will be on International Women’s Day, March 9, when Ambassador Bird will join a panel of inspiring female leaders under the banner Women in Leadership.

The event has been organised by ABIE Board member Sylvestre Mang for the Macquarie University Alumni.

ABIE France President Bernard Tabary would like to warmly thank Ambassador Bird for her very interesting and informative talk, much appreciated by ABIE members.