It may be trite to say that the year is flying by, but it certainly feels that way in our office as we enter May and look back on what we have achieved to date and look forward to what lies ahead of us.
In early February, whilst there was still snow on the ground in Scotland, I took a team to Aberdeen for the third annual Aberdeen-Perth Gateway event. This day of presentations, briefings and one-on-one meetings is very popular and well attended. Although both Perth and Aberdeen are members of the World Energy Cities partnership, it is surprising how little is known about Perth and Western Australia in Aberdeen.
In addition to providing information on the business opportunities, market entry connections and Government strategies for promoting growth, we also exposed attendees to the WA lifestyle, climate and amenities. Our visit was positively covered by Aberdeen’s Energy Voice.
In a first, we also held an invitation-only tutored wine tasting of a number of WA wines entitled “Putting WA Wines on Scottish Menus.” The wines from Plantagenet, Xanadu, Howard Park, Domaines & Vineyards, Willow Bridge Estate, Robert Oatley and Harewood Estate shone and the evening was a huge success.
Our presence in Aberdeen coincided with the Subsea Expo and we made full use of the opportunities that provided in terms of meeting companies and encouraging them to consider expanding to WA or looking for WA-based partners.
Of interest to many UK companies was the Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference (AOG), for which I travelled back to Perth for two weeks in March to attend and speak at. As it happened, my diary filled up with a range of extremely beneficial meetings and conferences. They included speaking at events on Brexit, Battery Minerals, EU/WA trade and investment as well as Defence matters. I also met with a large number of companies who are at various stages of transition between WA and UK/Europe.
This is a very exciting time for Western Australian businesses to be looking to expand overseas into the UK and Europe. The value of the Australian dollar and the interest in the UK and Europe in identifying new partnerships, new markets and new investments provides a fertile ground in which to seed new products and services.
After I returned from WA, I had the honour to escort our Governor, His Excellency, the Honourable Kim Beazley AC and his delightful wife, Susie Annus, during their visit to the UK and Germany. We are extremely fortunate to have a man of the Governor’s intellect, drive and passion in this role. He has shown wonderful support to me, progressing the interests of Western Australia and speaking so eloquently about the benefits of investing in our State.
The cultural highlight for me this year has been the arrival in London of the First Fleet Piano. This forte piano was embarked in HMS Sirius, flagship of the First Fleet. We were fortunate to host an exquisite piano forte recital in the Exhibition Hall of Australia House. What a perfect venue for an outstanding performance by Professor Geoffrey Lancaster and James Huntingford, both from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University (ECU), on matching historic piano fortes.
The First Fleet piano is now in the safe hands of Lucy Coad, expert square piano restorer, who is carefully bringing it back to its former glory before it returns to ECU in Perth next year.
As we look forward to the rest of 2019, we have a busy and varied round of activities. We will be in Stockholm for the Undersea Defence Technology conference, hearing about the latest developments in underwater sensors and systems. Back in London, we will be supporting five innovative Western Australian start-ups attending the London Tech Week in early June. Read more about this initiative here.
In September, we will have a Western Australia stand at the Offshore Europe conference and exhibition in Aberdeen. We have a number of organisations sharing the stand and would welcome any others who may be interested in promoting their capabilities to the global oil and gas community.
2019 is a year where we have seen collaboration across government, industry and academia, and collaboration across countries, regions and cities grow stronger by the day. Our team is embracing this trend to the fullest as we connect across disciplines and countries to create opportunities for a better Western Australia.
Agent General Mike Deeks CSC