Leaders of Australia’s resources and energy industry last week joined key identities across the political, business and workplace relations community as more than 500 guests celebrated the past, present and future of Australian Resources and Energy Group, AREEA.
Set within Melbourne’s historic Regent Theatre on Wednesday (1 August), the AREEA Centenary Gala Dinner was lauded as unforgettable, and industry’s biggest celebration of 2018.
The scene was set early with the Australian Qantas Children’s Choir delivering inspiring renditions of ‘Red Earth’, coupled with a traditional Indigenous dance performance, followed by ‘My Country’ and later ‘I still call Australia Home’ – the latter accompanied by rousing iconic imagery from across Australia’s resources sector.
MC for the evening, the highly awarded Toby Travanner, engaged and welcomed guests before introducing AREEA President and Chairman of ExxonMobil Australia, Richard Owen, for the official opening address.
In his speech, Mr Owen highlighted how AREEA, Australia’s only truly national employer group for the entire resources and energy sector, helped shape the development of Australia’s industry throughout the 20th century.
“The Association was formed in 1918 as employers faced transformative social and industry change, and for the next 100 years AREEA would remain by employers’ sides,” he said.
“From the 1950s, AREEA began to grow from a modest industrial relations organisation to the diverse and national employer group it is today.”
Emphasising Australia’s transformation into a global resources player following significant discoveries of coal and various metals, Mr Owen lauded AREEA’s role in the development of Australia’s oil and gas industry and the benefits to the nation’s prosperity.
“There’s barely an area of our great country that hasn’t been touched by and made better by the contribution of Australia’s diverse and growing resources and energy industry,” he said.
“We truly have a great story to tell.”
Mr Owen said AREEA’s unwavering focus on its members would continue to be its greatest strength as the national resources and energy sector contributes to a brighter future for all Australians.
Following Mr Owen’s opening address, Australia’s 25th and second-longest serving Prime Minister John Howard OM AC, a special guest of AREEA’s for the evening, was invited to speak on the relationship between his government and the resources and energy industry.
Mr Howard’s passion for the industry was on full display as he congratulated representatives of the industry in the room on their collective contribution to Australia.
Also addressing the state of workplace relations in Australia, Mr Howard called on Australia’s present-day political leaders to rise to the challenge of workplace relations reform, which Mr Howard said was a critical driver of productivity and economic resilience.
The spotlight then turned to honouring milestone-achievers for AREEA long membership, recognising and celebrating employers who play a leading role in the organisation’s work to achieve positive outcomes for the industry, but also in wealth and job creation for Australia more broadly.
A total of 15 employers were recognised for their long membership of AREEA, capped by founding member Copper Mines of Tasmania, celebrating an incredible 100 years of AREEA membership for its Mount Lyell mine.
Long membership awards – 15 year: BP Refinery – Kwinana, Fortescue Metals Group; 20 year: Brunel Technical, Fluor Australia, Gold Fields Australia, Nacap Australia; 25 year: Sodexo Services Australia; 30 year: St Barbara; 35 year: Clough, Thiess; 45 year: Svitzer Australia, Grange Resources; 50 year: Chevron Australia; 60 year: Ensign International Energy Services; 100 year: Copper Mines of Tasmania (Mount Lyell Mining).
Australia’s preeminent and most popular soprano, Marina Prior, then lit up the room with a stirring performance, paving the way for the highlight of the night with the crowning of the AREEA Resources & Energy Industry Award winners.
AREEA Chief Executive Steve Knott praised the high level of award winners across six categories covering key workforce-related areas of the industry.
“The calibre of this year’s award winners again highlights the tremendous work being undertaken by individuals and organisations across Australia’s resources and energy industry,” he said.
“It is always a highlight to recognise the abundance of talent in our sector, but coinciding with AREEA’s centenary celebrations, the presentation of this year’s awards in front of more than 500 industry, political and industrial relations leaders was extra special.”
Read more about the AREEA Industry Award Winners here.
Outside of the event’s formalities, the 2018 AREEA Centenary Gala Dinner offered an exceptional night of networking which saw guests reunite with industry colleagues, forge new friendships and develop fresh connections.
While much of the focus was centred on AREEA’s 100 years of industry leadership and support, the current and future industry landscape was also a major talking point in driving a brighter future for all Australians.
Noting the contribution of the resources and energy industry, Mr Knott explained how proud he was of the group’s place in Australia’s history, and its diversification in recent decades in his closing speech.
“We take a keen interest in our sector’s needs and the political environment that surrounds us. On behalf of our members, we pursue the policy requirements necessary to make our industry a good place to work, to invest, and to do good for the nation,” he said.
AREEA thanks all attendees and members for their support of the 2018 Centenary Gala Dinner. The strong engagement and community of interest reflected the great pride of the industry in its significant contribution to Australia’s past, present and future.
Earlier in the day, AREEA hosted nearly 100 industry managers and professionals for its professional development session Workforce Insights – 2018 & Beyond at the nearby Mission to Seafarers venue.