Opinion

Aussie Amb wishes Phuket happy Australia Day

Paul Robilliard has been the Australian Ambassador to Thailand since his appointment in October last year.

A senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and currently First Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia Division, Amb Robilliard has served twice as Head of the United Nations Security Council Taskforce (July – Oct 2013 and Nov 2012 – May 13) and in between served as Senior Adviser to the Australian Prime Minister’s Office (May–July 2013).

Before his posting to Thailand, he has served as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. He also speaks Arabic and French.

PHUKET: On Australia Day, we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian, and to reflect on our domestic and international achievements.

In Thailand, the day also provides an opportunity for us, Australians and Thais, to celebrate our bilateral relationship, which has flourished for over 60 years. Thailand is an important, long-standing partner for Australia. It is Australia’s eighth largest bilateral trading partner and our second largest trading partner in Asean. Trade between Australia and Thailand has grown substantially in recent years, particularly since the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement’s launch in 2005.

Amb Robilliard looks forward to his first full year as Ambassador to Thailand. Photo: Supplied

This year we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Free Trade Agreement. Strong economic growth in regional Thai cities also means our bilateral trade will increasingly expand beyond metropolitan Bangkok to urban, regional Thailand. We also welcome growing Thai investment in Australia.

We also support Thailand’s development through our regional aid programs. The Australian Government’s regional assistance programs help Thailand respond to trans-boundary health threats, improve regional water management, safeguard human security and promote economic integration.
Australia shares many strategic interests with Thailand, and we continue to work constructively with the Thai Government in multilateral forums.

The Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police and Customs Services co-operate extensively with their Thai partners. Education links between Thailand and Australia are very strong. Over 22,000 Thai nationals are currently studying in Australia, and our education links are growing. I am very pleased that this year 160 Australian students will come to Thailand to study and undertake work placements under the New Colombo Plan established by the Australian Government. Their placements will help them develop an understanding of the country and reinforce links between Australian and Thai people.

The Australian Government continues to provide scholarships and fellowships to international students including Thais.

Since 2007, the Australian Government’s Endeavour scholarships and fellowships program have been accepted by 155 Thais to undertake study, research or professional development in Australia and 35 Australians accepted an Endeavour Scholarship or Fellowship to undertake study, research or professional development in Thailand.

Nearly 900,000 Australians visited Thailand in 2014. Phuket remains one of the most popular destinations here for Australian tourists.

The Australian Embassy has continued to provide a high level of consular assistance to clients all over Thailand, including Phuket.

We conduct regular outreach visits to Phuket and Chiang Mai to assist Australians with notarial and passport matters.

We also encourage all Australians in Thailand to register at www.smarttraveller.gov.au and obtain relevant and comprehensive travel insurance.

I look forward to continuing our engagement with Thailand in 2015 – my first full year as Ambassador to Thailand.

Happy Australia Day to all Australians in Thailand.

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