Thursday 28 February was a busy day in the Melbourne diplomatic calendar!
The day started with a Café de la Rentrée des Associations (see our other article), and continued at the Shrine of Remembrance where the French flag was flying in honour of the visit of Mme Anne Genetet, Member of the French National Assembly, Representative of French citizens living abroad. In a moving ceremony led by Mr Dean Lee, CEO of the Shrine, Mme Genetet paid tribute to the 45,000 Australian “Diggers” who died on the Western Front during World War One, and laid a wreath in the sanctuary before both national anthems were played. It was fitting that the Anciens Combattants français attended the ceremony as well.
A lunch with French and Australian business leaders was then an opportunity for the French Member of Parliament to appreciate the differences of style between the two countries and understand that for a French company to get established in Australia, they need a local network.
The afternoon was busy at the University of Melbourne where the delegation of Mme Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation was coming to witness the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between The University of Melbourne, represented by Prof Jane Dunn, the Doherty Institue represented by Prof Sharon Lewin, INSERM represented by Mr Gilles Bloch and ANRS, represented by Mr Thierry Damerval in the presence of HE Mr Christophe Penot, Ambassador of France and Prof Duncan Maxwell, Vice Chancellor of the University.
A roundtable followed the signature to discuss current health related research at Melbourne, existing collaboration between INSERM and the Medical School and future opportunities. Then a tour of the Victorian Comprehensive Research Cancer Center was led by Prof. Frederic Hollande, Deputy Head of the Department.
As the afternoon flew by, it was time for both Ms Vidal and Ms Genetet, to rush to Auburn High School where 90 strong French citizens were registered to attend the GRAND DEBAT NATIONAL.The themes discussed touched on the meaning of National identity, French vs European, the various taxes that are in force for the French living abroad, the possibility for French students raised in Australia to pursue their tertiary studies in France, the revision of the Constitution and the hypothetical idea of making the vote compulsory as it is in Australia, the question of the environment and a perceived lack of action by the Government, and various other questions.
Madame Genetet ended the Grand Debat with an interview with Christophe Mallet of SBS Radio.
For the people who could not attend the evening, there will be a virtual Grand Debat organised by Mme Genetet. Please refer to her website.