Talk 702, South Africa - interview with John Robbie

  • Transcript, E&OE
11 September 2014

JOHN ROBBIE Recently a dear friend of mine, a new friend of mine His Excellency Graeme Wilson, the Australian High Commissioner passed away in Pretoria. Uhhhh it was a dreadful, dreadful shock, he was a wonderful High Commissioner. He was lovely guy. He was on 702 a number of times, he loved his cricket, he spoke about the cricket when the Aussies were here. He's got a lovely wife Lisa; they were great hosts and made lots of friends in South Africa. The diplomatic community and his friends are devastated.

Well to honour his passing, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, not Foreign Affairs and Trade - I got that wrong earlier – she's arrived and announced the Graeme Wilson Leadership Award. Well its great pleasure to have the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop on the program

Minister – Thank you for joining us and deepest sympathy

JULIE BISHOP Good morning John, thank you very much for those kind words. I know that Graeme's family would appreciate the condolences that you have extended to them and we are all very sad about the passing of Graeme. He was a highly respected diplomat. He was a charming, delightful man and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and all his colleagues will miss him dearly.

JOHN ROBBIE Did you know him well Julie?

JULIE BISHOP Yes I did, in fact we were together last year at an Africa Down Under mining conference held in Perth, in my home city, and Graeme was there. I remember well we had a conversation about football …

JOHN ROBBIE <laughs>

JULIE BISHOP … because not only was he mad on cricket, he was mad about football and we supported opposing teams. I supported the West Coast Eagles he supported the Sydney Swans so he was mad and passionate about his sport

JOHN ROBBIE I've just got a tear in my eye just talking to you Julie. Tell us about the Graeme Wilson Award, this is marvellous.

JULIE BISHOP We have a program called the Australia Awards and we provide scholarships, grants and fellowships to students from around the world. In this case about 5000 students from Africa have been recipients of Australia Awards.

What we decided to do, in memory of Graeme and to honour him, is choose the most outstanding student recipient of an Australia Award and provide them with a leadership prize. So we had a ceremony yesterday to present the award to a lovely young lady, now just trying to remember her name, Ms Tshuwa, she was delightful and she has just been provided with an Australia Award. And because she was the most outstanding South African candidate selected in the Australia awards, she was given this prize and the lovely thing was I was able to present it to her in the presence of Graeme's wife Lisa and his three children, which was just a lovely touch.

JOHN ROBBIE Ah well that's just fantastic stuff. Graeme would have absolutely loved that and he loved South Africa. I think he was a great Australian as you say. Thank you for talking to us it was a lovely gesture. Please pass on best wishes and sympathy to everybody there involved, who knew him, and it was a great pleasure talking to you, Minister, this morning

JULIE BISHOP Thank you so much John, appreciate the opportunity


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