Philip Aiken AM, Chairman of Australian Business, Her Excellency The Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, The Hon Mike Rann, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (Photo: Alex Watson).
LAST WEEK Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce visited the UK following a week-long European trade mission to France, Belgium, Slovakia and Austria.
On the first day of a four-day visit Ms Bryce attended a roundtable meeting with prominent women in business at the Australian High Commission before meeting young Australian musicians currently studying at the Royal College of Music.
Ms Bryce visited Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace to pass on Australia’s best wishes to Prince Philip as he recovered from surgery in hospital.
“The governor-general passed on to Her Majesty The Queen the best wishes from all Australians to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh,” a spokesman said in a statement.
The entrepreneurial environment of London was showcased to Ms Bryce, with a visit to Accelerator — the London Metropolitan University’s ‘business incubator’ to support East London’s small business community.
The governor-general was introduced to East London’s ‘Tech City’, including a number of Australian tech start-ups and established small businesses.
“You hear so much said about the capacity for small business, entrepreneurship and technology to work together but often nothing is done about it. You are transferring the rhetoric into reality,” Ms Bryce said.
“And I am thrilled to see bright, young Australians over here experiencing this.”
London Met Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies said it was an honour to host the Governor-General.
“As a fellow Australian I was particularly proud to welcome the Governor-General to London Met.
“She has acknowledged the opportunities we’re giving to young people everywhere, but particularly those from some of the underprivileged boroughs of East London. We are recruiting young people from neighbouring communities to ensure they have access to business growth in their area.”
Ms Bryce had a further opportunity to meet with prominent Australian members of the UK community at a lunch with UK and Australian business leaders to promote trade and investment between Australia, EU and the UK.
Hosted by business networking organisation Australian Business at the InterContinental London Westminster, the lunch was attended by Australian Business members, representatives of the European Australian Business Council, Australian High Commissioner Mike Rann and Chairman of Australian Business Phillip Aiken.
Ms Bryce spoke of the historic achievements of the European Union and the benefits of an integrated economic arrangement for member states, as well as the Australia and the UK.
Ms Bryce told guests leading a week-long trade mission to Europe had given her an interesting insight into the “current state of the union” and “a sense of the Australian opportunities and challenges in Europe that lie ahead.”
The mission to advance Australian business interests and promote Australia as an attractive and sophisticated market for European investment was the first time the position of governor-general has been employed in this way.
Ms Bryce said this reflected the changing nature of the role.
“It reflects the important evolution of the role, its contemporisation through generational change.”
Ms Bryce closed by paying tribute to the ongoing relationship between Australia and the UK.
“It is one of Australia’s most important and most enduring.
“It is a relationship built on strong foundations and shared interests, on common values and deep bonds.”
Australia’s reciprocal trade with the UK is worth AUD$24bn, making the UK Australia’s sixth largest two-way trading partner.
“In short the UK matters, and the EU matters, to Australia,” said Ms Bryce.
“And it seems the feeling is mutual.”