Tuesday evening October 18, 2016, the Honourable Don Harwin MLC President of the NSW Legislative Council and Nicole Forrest Green, President of the Friends of the Lapérouse Museum, hosted close to 100 people for a fundraising dinner at NSW Parliament with a distinctly French theme.
A unique French menu devised by Parliament House Catering together with French wines and champagne were the order of the evening as guests gathered to support the Lapérouse Education Fund an initiative founded by our President, created with seed funding from French Parliament in particular French Deputy Thierry Mariani, that will support young Australian students from nonaffluent backgrounds study in France in the field of science. The program carries the name of an extraordinary man and navigator, Jean Francois de Galaup, le Comte de La Pérouse who arrived at Botany Bay’s northern headland, with his two frigates the Astrolabe and la Boussole on 26th January 1788.
The audience included NSW Opposition Leader the Hon. Michael Daley MP, the Hon. Dr Geoff Lee MP (Member for Parramatta) the Hon. Bruce Notley-Smith MP (Member for Coogee), Deputy Mayor of Randwick City Council Brendan Roberts, Captain Michael Hickey RANR representing the Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer CSC & Bar Garden Island Sydney, Colonel Michael Miller from the NSW Governor’s Office and the Vice Consul for France to Sydney, Olivier Le Van Xieu .
Apologies were tabled from the Australian Defence Minister, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO, CSC, RAN, and the British Consul General to Sydney, Nick McInnes.
The Guest speaker at our special event was the Hon Justice Michael Pembroke who delivered his talk drawing on the similarities between Lapérouse and Arthur Phillip with both men being products of the 18th century Enlightenment, in service to the Royal Navies of their respective countries, and who found themselves here in Australia far from home at the same time, in 1788.
Michael Pembroke’s coveted book an historical biography of Arthur Phillip entitled ‘Arthur Phillip – Sailor, Mercenary, Governor and Spy (2013) was runner-up in the national Maritime Museum History Award and a work described by Simon Winchester as ‘utterly absorbing’ ‘destined to become a classic of historical literature’ the book was used as the basis for an ABC documentary presented by Scott Bevan, which examined the epic life and achievements of our first Governor.
An absorbed audience learnt much about the motivations of both Lapérouse and Phillip, their outstanding achievements, and how both navigators have left legends that live on more than 200 years after their passing.
The evening culminated with a live auction that helped raise several thousands of dollars for the Scholarship Program and Education Fund.