Find the latest bookmaker offers available across all uk gambling sites Read the reviews and compare sites to quickly discover the perfect account for you.
Breaking News

Speech by Ambassador Sonam Tobgay at the Reception for the Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Group on 13 November 2023 at Parliament House

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today. I also pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging and I extend that respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people present.

 Distinguished Members of the Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Group & Other distinguished guests,

The special bond of friendship between Australia and Bhutan began in 1962 when an all-female Bhutanese delegation led by Princess Tashi Dorji, the sister of the then Queen of Bhutan, attended the Colombo Plan Meeting in Melbourne. Australia, led by Senator Gorton and fully backed by Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, helped Bhutan secure immediate membership to the Colombo Plan. This was historic, as it was the first international organization that Bhutan was able to join. Membership to the Colombo Plan opened the doors for Bhutanese students to start coming to Australia for higher studies.  

Since then, thousands of fortunate Bhutanese, including myself, came to Australia to obtain a world class education and upgrade our skills. You will be pleased to learn that 7 of the 11 cabinet members, including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the previous Bhutanese government, had a higher education degree from an Australian university. Therefore, education has been the cornerstone of our bilateral relations.

Australia remains a preferred educational destination for Bhutanese, and with an estimated 30,000 Bhutanese now residing here, it hosts the largest Bhutanese diaspora. The Bhutanese community are responsible and valued members of the multicultural fabric of Australia, serving as a vital bridge for people-to-people relations between our two countries.

Over the past six decades numerous individuals from both countries have played pivotal roles in strengthening our relations. Today, I’d like to pay tribute to the late Hon. Tim Fischer, Australia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, whose love for Bhutan spanned over four decades. During his many visits to Bhutan, we saw Tim as the personification of the quintessential Aussie – rugged, large-hearted, fair, honest, with a warm sense of humor and above all, a loyal friend. These admirable qualities resonated well with the Bhutanese, and it perhaps explains why many of us are drawn to Australia.

As we marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year, we are thankful to the Federal Government for receiving my Foreign Minister for an official visit. Subsequently, we were honoured to receive in Bhutan in May this year, the Hon. Tim Watts, the Assistant Foreign Minister of Australia. These reciprocal and other visits in the past year have added greater momentum to our bilateral ties. Looking forward, we anticipate a visit by His Majesty The King to Australia in the coming year.

Bhutan is currently in election mode and over the next three months, two rounds of elections will determine our fourth democratically elected government. A new government will be in place by Feb 2024 following which the counterpart Parliamentary Friendship Group will be formed in Bhutan. I’ll work with the two Co-Chairs to organize a visit to Bhutan for your Parliamentary Group. Such a visit would not only be a great encouragement for democracy in Bhutan, but also enhance parliamentary cooperation.

Excellencies, friends,

It is my distinct honour to co-host today’s reception with Mr. David Smith, Federal Member for Bean and a dear friend, with whom I share a common alma mater at the Australian National University. My deepest gratitude to David for graciously accepting the role of the first Co-Chair of the Australia-Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Group.

I also acknowledge Senator Dean Smith, the Deputy Chair of the Group, whose constituency in Perth is home to the largest Bhutanese community in Australia. The Bhutanese consider Senator Smith a great friend, and it is only apt that he is the Deputy Chair of this Group and our second co-host for this event.

The formation of the Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Group marks a historic milestone, representing the first-ever collaboration of its kind. We are deeply touched by the overwhelming interest shown by Members of Parliament to be a part of it. This is an auspicious beginning for a new area of cooperation between Bhutan, a young democracy of 15 years old, and Australia, globally recognized as an exemplar of democratic values.

In conclusion, I look forward to continuing to engage with all of you and to seek your wise counsel to further strengthen this special bond of friendship between Australia and Bhutan.

Thank you very much!

Check Also

Speech by Mr. Jigme Tenzin, Chargé d’affaires a.i., at the opening of the Honorary Consulate of Bhutan in Melbourne on 5 October 2023

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen & Friends of Bhutan, My Ambassador has conveyed his deepest ...