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On Wednesday, 7th June 2017 the Friends of the Lapérouse Museum hosted close to 90 guests for a special evening, a lecture entitled ‘American Freedom, a French Inspiration’ or ‘l’Indépendance Américaine, grâce a la France’ by Professor Peter Anstey from the University of Sydney, a specialist in 18th century French philosophy, the era of Lapérouse, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Jefferson, Franklin and the French Enlightenment.

The Guest of Honour was Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN. Other special dignitaries included the U.S. Consul General Valerie Fowler, French Consul General Nicolas Croizer and from France the CEO of THALES Underwater Systems SAS and Vice President of the THALES Group Alexis Morel. Also present were the U.S. Naval Attaché Captain Defrias, French Defence Attaché (FN) Captain Marboeuf, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (Amcham) Niels Marquardt and the Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics from Western Sydney University, Professor Siméon Simoff.  (Photos: FR-AUS-US Navies Captain Y. Marboeuf (French Defence Attaché, French Navy) VADM Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN Chief of Navy, Captain A. Defrias (U.S. Naval Attaché); FOLM President, Nicole Forrest Green with Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN


FOLM President, Nicole Forrest Green conducted the order of ceremony for the evening, inviting both the French and U.S. Consuls General to speak on the important historical relationship between the U.S. and France where during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), French assistance enabled American resistance forces also known as the ‘Continental Army’ to defeat the British colonists with both financial aid and military support ensuring their independence. Lapérouse, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Count of Rochambeau were active French participants. Professor Peter Anstey, also referenced French political philosopher and jurist Montesquieu and his core work ‘De l’Esprit des Lois’ where he believed that political freedom could be created by separating political powers into different branches, developing the political theory of ‘checks and balances’ that became an integral  part of the U.S. Constitution. (Photos:  Professor Peter Anstey, University of Sydney; U.S. Consul General Valerie Fowler)

Guest of Honour VADM Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN, Australia’s Chief of Navy also addressed an attentive audience, highlighting the strong France-Australia partnership recently strengthened when French defence company DCNS, had been selected in April last year to design the Royal Australian Navy’s new fleet of diesel powered submarines. Vice Admiral Barrett referred to the cooperation in our region of the three nations represented tonight, Australia, France and the U.S., allies, united by shared values and historical bonds that remain solid and strong. The Chief of Navy also paid homage to the vision and achievements of French Naval Officer, Jean-François Galaup, le Comte de Lapérouse, who landed on ‘this very site where we gather this evening’, on 26th January 1788, and who personifies the beginnings of the France-Australia relationship, an enduring partnership.

From France, Nicole Forrest Green welcomed Alexis Morel, CEO of Thales Underwater Systems SAS and a Vice President of the Thales Group leading the organisation’s underwater systems global business line. Alexis’ international engagement is vast including a secondment to the U.S. State Department, working within the French Embassy in Washington D.C., and serving in France’s Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Strategic and Security Affairs, in charge of NATO and European Defence Policy. In Australia, THALES work extensively with the Royal Australian Navy and partner with numerous domestic SME’s in the defence sector, creating jobs and businesses that use advanced technology and specialized science.  (Photo: Alexis Morel, CEO Thales Underwater Systemes SAS, VP Thales Group)

But it is the organisation’s interest in culture, education and employment opportunities for young Australians (including women), that brings them to the Lapérouse Museum. Generous sponsors of the evening, Thales will also partner with the Lapérouse Education Fund to create a scholarship program that will send Australian students from non-affluent backgrounds to France, to further their studies in science, engineering and mathematics via a University exchange program between the University of Nice, Sophia Antipolis and Western Sydney University, Parramatta. THALES operate from premises close to both campuses at Sophia Antipolis, an advanced technology hub in Southern France, and at Rydalmere next to Parramatta in Sydney’s West. Students at WSU are often first in their family to attend University, and are unlikely to have the opportunity to travel and study in France. Criteria for the scholarship will include an affinity with French philosophy and the mission and values of Lapérouse, whose legacy embodies dignity, respect, humanity and scientific discovery.  (Photo: French Consul General Nicolas Croizer with Michel-Henri Carriol)

Nicole Forrest Green presented the Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics of Western Sydney University with a $10,000 cheque on behalf of the Lapérouse Education Fund at the evening’s conclusion. She also extended an invitation to both the Chief of Navy and the U.S. Consul General to return to the Lapérouse Museum at their convenience, and thanked the French Consul General for his support of our work.