US Consul General uses Dubbo trip to build better ties |Photos, audio

A quarter of a century ago when Valerie Fowler was in Hong Kong she fell in love with the television show Flying Doctors.

This week, the now US Consul General was able to meet the doctors, nurses and pilots at the Royal Flying Doctor Service during a brief visit to Dubbo.

Ms Fowler has been travelling across the Central West, learning the issues important in the regions and the way areas interact with the United States.

In Dubbo her visited included talking to groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and visiting the Dubbo RSL. She was also given a tour of the Tasmanian Devil facility at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and told about the work the zoo is doing to preserve the Great Barrier Reef.

It was both inspiring and informative to hear the work the zoo was doing in sustainability, conservation and education, Ms Fowler said.

“If I was an Australian going to the United States and only visited New York and LA I wouldn’t feel like I understood the United States. So being based in Sydney and covering NSW and Queensland I don’t feel like I can understand states in which I work and the relationship the United States has with those states unless I get out to the regional areas,” she said.

“It’s also a great way to remind folks of the depth of the US-Australia relationship. With 100 years of mateship people understand the military alliance, but we also have unparalleled partnerships in economics and law enforcement and intel.”

There were 1500 US companies in NSW, Ms Fowler said. The economic partnership with Australia was worth $1.5 trillion, which was roughly the annual gross domestic product for Australia.

The interest Australian had in the United States was unlike anything Ms Fowler said she had ever seen before in her 14 overseas assignments. She said she wanted to do what she could to ensure that interaction was positive.

As well as learning about the places she was visiting, the Consul General said she was using the trip to build stronger connections.

“I was in Orange yesterday and met with the mayor and he said they used to have a sister city relationship with Orange, California and they’d like to regenerate it so I’d like to connect him with the right folks to discuss the partnership,” she said.

After trying a cheese and bacon pie on Thursday, Ms Fowler said she would be travelling to Mudgee.