Friday night we attended a dinner for Alumni of Griffith University in Queensland. The dinner was hosted in Nam An 2 restaurant which is one of a chain owned by our friend Ly Trung who completed his Masters degree at Griffith Uni’s Gold Coast campus.
Our special guest was the Honourable Tom Burns, a long time labour parliamentarian and former deputy premier of Queensland. Tom and Assistant Tri regularly visit China and Vietnam as a part of the Queensland Government’s initiative to maintain strong relationships with Government and NGO’s in both countries.
I had wondered at Premier Beattie’s decision to choose Tom Burns for this position because, by his own admission Tom is now 73 and also because Tom comes from the old school of rough and ready no bullshit type of parliamentarians. He had a fearsome reputation in Queensland for his no nonsense approach to getting on with business and his aggressive debating style. However, I can now see that he is clearly the right person for the job.
I was more than impressed by Tom’s sharpness of mind and the Vietnamese with whom we shared the dinner seemed to enjoy his forthright approach and manner. I must admit that I had a quiet laugh to myself when Tom, after gathering business cards from all those present said in the typical style of a die-hard Queenslander, “OK, lets see who is who here! Which one of this mob are you?” indicating the gentleman at the furtherest corner of the table. “Are you the animal feed bloke or one of these others”, referring to the business cards in front of him. In this manner we all learnt something about each other after which we enjoyed the Vietnamese buffet dinner.
Tom is empathetic to the Asian situation and showed great depth of knowledge of both Viet Nam and China. He revealed to me that he had first travelled to China with Gough Whitlam when Whitlam was Prime Minister of Australia, and that was a long time ago. I was impressed with the amount of energy that Tom puts into his current position and I admit to being envious of someone who has such an interesting occupation.
It was enjoyable meeting up with fellow Griffith University graduates and I hope we can meet together occasionally as it adds another facet of interest to our lives here in this country. The Vietnamese graduates are involved in a diverse range of business enterprises and it was very enlightening to hear some of their experiences and share in some of their knowledge.
After dinner Lisa and I drove the Vespa into Dong Khoi St and enjoyed a late glass of wine and a conversation with Trung at his new Maxim’s Nam An restaurant before we trundled our way back home. At this time of the year the weather in the evenings is mild and the cool breeze on our faces while driving about is extremely refreshing. All in all another good evening.
As usual, if you click on a thumbnail a larger image will appear (that is if you can stand the sight of us enjoying ourselves again)