SHIPPING Australia’s annual Christmas lunch is a highlight of the festive season – and the year – for many in the shipping community. Hundreds gathered at Sydney’s Hyatt Regency in December for a lavish three-course meal, flowing drinks, celebrity entertainment and an all-round good time.  

MSC’s Bill Rizzi, chair of the Shipping Australia NSW state committee, said the challenges of the past year were likely unsurprising for those in the room. 

“The shipping industry continues to be resilient, irrespective of all the adversity and obstacles that are thrown our way,” he said. 

Mr Rizzi noted 2023 marked 50 years since stalwart Captain Anil Bhatia joined the shipping industry.  

Captain Bhatia, managing director of Ausport Marine, said the past five decades had been “a beautiful journey” and thanked the people who had supported him. 

“We all have our ups and downs, but I feel very privileged and blessed to belong to the shipping industry and to the logistics chain,” he said. 

Guest of honour Manpreet Vohra, the High Commissioner of India to Australia took the floor to share an update on the countries’ bilateral trade. He said India and Australia are strengthening their friendship, and the shipping industry will play an important role as trade grows. 

“I hope that as the India-Australia relationship deepens and grows further, the shipping industry will very much be a part of it and a beneficiary of it,” Ambassador Vohra said. 

And the event took a lively turn when comedian Tahir Bilgiç transformed the stage into a runway for distinguished guests – including the ambassador himself – to compete in an impromptu modelling show. First prize went to the participant who did the worm. 

View the photo gallery of the event