Caption details: L to R: Fernando Alves – Chef de pôle export – Director of the Industry and Technology departments (Business France). Yves Lafoy – Counsellor – Official Representative of the New Caledonia to Australia. Stephanie Morley – French Trade Commissioner (Business France). Cr Ann-Maree Greaney. Cr Mark Molachino (Deputy Mayor)

Townsville was the ideal destination this week for a business delegation representing French companies with a focus on sustainable oceans and reefs.

Hosted by Trade and Investment Queensland, the delegation representing eight businesses was accompanied by the French Trade Commissioner and a representative of the New Caledonian government.

Speaking at a Council function to welcome the delegation, Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino emphasised the leading roles that James Cook University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have in marine research and tropical medicine. He also stressed the importance of the Port of Townsville as a trade gateway for northern Australia.

“France and Australia have had a relationship spanning centuries with both nations having a presence in the Pacific,” Cr Molachino said.

“Townsville is closer to New Caledonia than it is to Perth, so it’s appropriate for us to continue strengthening our relationship.

“When our own mayor visited the largely autonomous French territory of New Caledonia, she likened it to a ‘French North Queensland’ with its beautiful rainforests, stunning reefs, a vibrant resources sector, a strong agricultural tradition and friendly people.”

Councillor Molachino said this week’s visit to Townsville by the ocean-focused French delegation is another opportunity to strengthen the economic and defence ties already existing between Australia and France.

“We have mutual interests and Townsville’s place as an industrial, research and defence hub gives the city a pivotal role in delivering practical benefits for both nations.”