Remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva at the Australia Awards Reception
Remarks by Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva, MP. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
at the Australia Awards Reception
Galle Face Hotel, 2 November 2016
His Excellency High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson,
President of the Sri Lanka Association of Australia Awards Alumni Ms. Indrani Sugathadasa,
Australia Awards Recipients,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to join you this evening to congratulate the 30 recipients of this year’s Australia Awards Scholarships, and while congratulating the recipients, I would also like to thank the Government of Australia for this generous and important Programme which contributes to skills and capacity development of Sri Lankans, while strengthening people-to-people contact between our two countries.
Australia and Sri Lanka are the best of friends, except perhaps on the Cricket field. Diplomatic relations between Australia and Ceylon were established in April 1947, even before we gained Independence. But ties between our peoples existed even before this. After all, Australians were seafarers and travellers, and Ceylon was a regular port of call.
The Australian Imperial Force visited Colombo en route to Egypt; and many veterans passed through Colombo on their way back home from war. An unfortunate few are buried on this tropical island.
Colombo, I am told is the first overseas cricket venue at which Sir Don Bradman played way back in 1930.
The stream of Sri Lankans who has made Australia their home over the years from the different communities has contributed to the diversity of Australia’s multicultural society, and has also made a mark on Australia’s economy, the arts, business, literature, the legal field, the culinary field, and even cricket.
Australia has been a strong development partner over the years, and I do not think there is any sector in which Australia hasn’t extended a helping hand to Sri Lanka at some point or another.
Australia has helped so many of our students, administrators, and professionals acquire the skills and knowledge they require to contribute to Sri Lanka’s progress.
All of you who go out to Australia shortly must all be very eager and enthusiastic about what awaits you. I am confident that you will take maximum advantage of this wonderful opportunity to not only learn and enrich your knowledge, skills and expertise, in your chosen fields, but to also be Ambassadors for your country during the time that you spend in Australia.
Benjamin Franklin, I am told, had said that the purpose of education is not only to serve yourself but to serve your community, your nation, and your world. In economics we call this a positive externality.
Looking at the list of 30, I was impressed by the diversity of the scholarship recipient in terms of the fields of study, from –
vHuman Resources Management
I hope that each of you, with the knowledge and the skills that you acquire through this Programme will go on to serve our nations and our world with distinction.
High Commissioner Hutchesson, I must use this opportunity to say a special thank you to you and your team at the Australian High Commission in Colombo for the wonderful work that you do all year round to make our countries and our peoples draw closer.