Mr Don Harwin, President of the Legislative Council, Honourable members of the Parliament, Mr Scott Nash, Mayor of Randwick, and dear Members of the Randwick Council, Excellencies and Dear Colleagues Consuls-general,
It is always a pleasure for me to come to this beautiful place of La Perouse, and specially on the Bastille Day, when we are happy to perpetuate a tradition lasting since 1917, of commemoration of the expedition of Count Jean-François Galaup de La Perouse.
This place is highly symbolic of the old friendship between Australia and France, and has been always a place of cooperation, a place of remembrance of these old ties. In 1917, when Henri Selkirk, fellow of the Royal Australian historical Society, looked for a place where to celebrate the Bastille day and our common bonds strengthened by this blood brotherhood born on the Battlefield of Somme in 1916, he chose naturally La Perouse.
This ceremony is therefore specially meaningful this year, since we celebrated a few days ago the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day. I am very proud to wear today the tie that the veterans wore in Ouistreham on the 6th of June, when they received the Legion d’Honneur for their participation in D-Day.
In a few days, we will remember the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. You know that this Bastille day is also the opportunity to celebrate another centenary, the centenary of the first airmail flight between Melbourne and Sydney, made by the French pilot Maurice Guillaux. We will welcome the arrival of the commemorative flight in Bankstown museum at 1.30 pm this afternoon, but for now, let us honor the Navy, since this place is specially dedicated to the sea, the explorers and the sailors who paid their life to allow us to know these new shores.
Many things have changed since last year, when we were gathered here at this same date to celebrate Bastille Day. The management of the Laperouse museum is being transfered to the Randwick city council and a new Trust has been created to further develop the museum and the site. I hope that this year will see significant progress in the renovation of the museum and we will help as much as we can with this ambitious work. This year, when we will have the visit of the French President in November, is the good time to boost our common projects.
We should have a very beautiful event in La Perouse this year, for instance the visit of the Endeavour, the replica of the ship of James Cook,will be at anchor in Frenchmen’s bay. When she returns from New Caledonia in June 2015, she will hopefully bring some pieces from the ship of Lapérouse from the Maritime museum of Nouméa. I very much hope also that one of the patrol boats from New Caledonia will be able to stay at anchor in the bay when she will call in Sydney, to pay a tribute to the expedition Lapérouse. These events, and other ones, will highlight the beauty and the deep signification of this place.
I wish to thank warmly the Council of Randwick who has organised and financed this reception for this Bastille Day, as well as the association of Friends of Laperouse Museum who has accomplished as usual a great work to prepare this ceremony.
I wish also to express a special thanks to the Brigade Française, which has one time again, brought its colors and sounds with a brilliant demonstration of munitions. The Brigade Française will also be in Bankstown this afternoon and in Powerhouse this evening to escort the airmail, and I praise their commitment and passion for France, Napoléon, and Guillaux as well !
I wish to all of you a beautiful Bastille Day and enjoy the good food and the good wine! For the French people, the Bastille Day is a time of joy and friendship. I wish that we feel together today this feeling in this beautiful place.
Thank you very much ! Eric Berti, Consul-General of France in Sydney