The Boardroom of the Mauritius Research Council, ‘seat’ of Mauritius’ own aeronautical society, was full to capacity on Thursday 21 February 2019 when Her Excellency Mrs Jenny Dee, Australian High Commissioner to Mauritius, gave a comprehensive presentation of the history and current practice of Aviation in Australia to Members of the Aeronautical Society of Mauritius . She explained how Australia had been among the first nations to become airborne, establishing an Air Navigation Act in 1920 and, in her own words, “using aviation to push essential services such as mail routes and medical care beyond the railheads and into remote regions”. The first person to qualify as a pilot in Australia was William Hart in 1911; and in 1919 Henry Wrigley and Arthur Murphy became the first people to cross the Australian continent by air. Many pioneers followed, notably Sir Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinnis and Sir Fergus McMaster who together founded QANTAS, still to this day the longest-lived airline name ever. Women aviators were not to be left out either, and included Nancy Bird-Walton who founded the Australian Women Pilots Association in 1950, and Gaby Kennard who became the first Australian woman to fly solo round the world.
Today Australians rely on aviation to access many essential goods and services, a perfect example being the famous Royal Flying Doctor Service which employs a fleet of 60 aircraft to supply emergency healthcare right across this huge country. Aviation also allows Australia to sell fresh produce such as seafood, meat and horticultural products all around the world. First air links with Mauritius go back to the 1st September 1952, the first QANTAS flight to our island, but the airline stopped flying this route 6 years later. Air Mauritius in its turn began direct flights to Perth in 1991, to the delight of the Mauritian diaspora (based mainly in Melbourne) and of Mauritian families and business people wanting to visit our big neighbour next door.
Jenny Dee emphasised the culture of Safety that has been a hallmark of Australia’s aviation industry, and gave two examples – not known to everyone – of Australian inventions that are now standard worldwide safety tools, the “Black Box” flight recorder and the inflatable aircraft escape slide. Australia was a founder member of the International Civil Aviation Organization and will continue to promote the best in aviation including – at High Commission level – the promotion of educational links between Mauritius and Australia… and the facilitation of family and business connections between our two countries.
AeSM President, 26 February 2019
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About H.E. MS JENNY DEE, Australian High Commissioner to Mauritius
Ms Dee is a senior career officer with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). She took up her appointment as Australia’s High Commissioner to Mauritius in July 2017 with non-resident accreditation to Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles.
In Canberra, Ms Dee has held a range of positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently the Director of the External Budget Section. She has extensive experience managing some of Australia’s most significant bilateral relationships in South and South-East Asia including as Director of the India Political and Regional Section and leading the Indonesia Economic and Transnational Issues team. She commenced her career in Australia’s foreign service in 1996 working on international climate change negotiations.
She has served overseas at Australia’s missions in Jakarta, Indonesia (from 2008 to 2011) – as the Australian Embassy spokesperson and manager of public affairs – and in Harare, Zimbabwe from 1999 to 2002. Ms Dee has also worked as a consultant editor in Mexico for McGraw Hill publishing.
Ms Dee holds a Master of Arts (Foreign Affairs and Trade) from Monash University and a Bachelor of Business (Journalism), graduating with distinction, from the Queensland University of Technology.