Australian High Commissioner HE Tegan Brink welcomed guests to the Australia Day reception on 26th January 2024 at the Residence. Visitors joined in celebrating multicultural Australia and savoring gourmet street food that showcases the waves of migration experienced by the country.

H.E. Tegan Brink thanked Minister Thulas Nxesi of Labour and Employment, who delivered a statement on behalf of the South African government. Special thanks were also extended to the Diplomatic Corps, as well as guests and friends of Australia.

Australia Day has different meanings for different people in the country. It’s one day with different stories, and a democratic country with a strong culture of open and free debate. It is an ancient land and a modern country that is on a journey of reconciliation with First Nations Australians.

Entering the reception, guests passed images of the Yuendumu doors. These doors were painted by Aboriginal elders to facilitate the journey and connection between cultures. That context is important in Australia and also has resonance in South Africa. Australia and South Africa share many things, with sports being at the top of the list, as well as barbecues (braais) and the bush, but the relationship is much more significant than that. Both countries have enormous rocks as national heritage sites; Australia has Uluru in the center, and South Africa has Table Mountain.

Today, the strong relationship between Australia and South Africa is marked by high levels of mining expertise and investment, including in critical minerals necessary to electrify the two countries and the world, as well as mind-blowing science collaborations, which include astronomy and the origins of the universe. In a parallel universe in New York, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi, the relationship of Australia includes active multilateral diplomacy. As mineral-powered democracies that can best achieve their goals through cooperation and engagement, understanding and hard work within the framework of agreed rules.

In a tumultuous global context, Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said:

“We need to do better at finding and valuing our common humanity, and as diplomats, we need to have the courage to put people, their security, and their aspirations at the center of our policy analysis and our paths to peace.”

Minister Thulas Nxesi congratulated Australia on their National Day on behalf of the government and people of South Africa.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have improved over the years since South Africa became a democracy in 1994. South Africa and Australia’s relations are managed through senior officials meetings, the SOM. A structured bilateral mechanism through which the two countries review the status of bilateral cooperation and the implementation of existing projects. The last successful meeting was held in South Africa in March 2023.

The Government of South Africa remains firmly committed to cooperating with the government of Australia in strengthening both political and economic relations between the two nations. Both countries enjoy sound bilateral relations in many areas, especially in the fields of trade and industry, science and technology, minerals and energy, police, service exchanges, and sporting ties.

Australia is South Africa’s 23rd largest trading partner, while South Africa is a top 30 trading country for Australia and the largest and most dynamic market in Africa. Australia is the 7th largest foreign investor in South Africa. In December 2022, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tim Watts, visited South Africa, which showed the intent of the Australian government to reinvigorate ties with Africa.

South Africa is pleased with the establishment of the Australia-Africa business forum and hopes that the initiative will receive Australian interest in Africa to explore opportunities, expand existing collaborations, and promote foreign direct investment.

In closing, Minister Nxesi reiterated that Australia has the unwavering support and friendship of South Africa.

by Marion Kate