The first South Australian-French Tertiary Education Workshop gave those in attendance the chance to discuss opportunities to develop the South Australian-French relationship.
“It was really about getting the right people in the room to talk about what opportunities exist because of the submarines, but not limited to the submarines, for universities and training organisations like TAFE,” Minister for Education and Skills Susan Close said.
“What this project has done is given us an organising principle to do lots of other activity, some of which won’t have a lot to do with submarines; it may be more of a cultural interaction.”
The workshop stemmed from the State Government’s French Engagement Strategy, which is focussed on strengthening South Australia’s ties with France by creating strong economic, social and cultural outcomes for the state.
Premier Jay Weatherill and French Ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier signed a letter of intent at the event, which will aim to “strengthen exchanges in higher education and scientific research between South Australia and France”.
“This workshop marks a very important milestone for university and scientific cooperation between France and Australia, not to mention for the relationship between our two countries in general,” Lecourtier said.
“From my point of view, this workshop is of great importance. With the submarine contract, the bilateral relations have seen a dramatic increase in intensity in the past months, starting with the fields of industry and defence.
“As long-standing allies, our two countries have now added a new momentum to our friendship, which now extends across all fields.”
Thales Group, a French multinational electrical company with a 30-year history in Australia, including providing the sonar system for the Collins-Class submarine, attended the event.
“The workshop has provided an excellent forum to share experience and information about what support is available to research and education institutions, and companies, to progress these collaborative links,” Thales Group vice-president and chief technological officer John Best said.
“Further events of this kind will be valuable to maintain momentum and share the successes that the community has in enabling the long-term success of the submarine program.”
While the technical knowledge transfer is a large part of the agreement, there is likely much more to be gained, Close said.
“In terms of the cultural relationships, I hope that over the 50 years we just see a tighter binding between the two nations.
“Where people comfortably travel between the two, where we share the best of what the other has to offer, whether it’s food, wine, culture, science, sport. I really think it will be a foundation for a very productive relationship.”
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