On 7 August I had the privilege of helping to launch a new Cairns-made fashion label called Mainie, which is the work of Charmaine Saunders and Denis Keeffe.
The label marries the ancient art of Indigenous women from the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory with silk from one of China's fabled Silk Road cities, Nanjing.
The maiden collection of 12 unique designs is manufactured in China and demonstrates how small Australian businesses are taking advantage of better relationships between our two countries.
In June this year Australia signed a groundbreaking free trade agreement with China, laying the foundation for the next phase of the economic relationship between our countries.
Today I brought with me a beautiful Mainie scarf, which I will be presenting to our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, in recognition of that relationship.
It is absolutely wonderful to see a start-up fashion business from Cairns identifying an opportunity in the market and going for it. I look forward to seeing Mainie grow into a globally-recognised brand from these humble beginnings in Cairns, and exploring other inspirations such as the designs of the rainforest Aboriginal people of Yarrabah.
Charmaine and Denis put in everything, including their house, to build this business, and I wish them success with it. I hope that other local Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs will see the foundations that have been laid and be further inspired to take Aboriginal art— (Time expired)