(As prepared for delivery, April 13, 2016)
As you all know, in the latter half of the twentieth century, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Space Race. Each wanted to be the first to the moon.
To this end, the United States put $100 billion in today’s dollars into the Apollo space program. The return on this investment was Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk.
Today, U.S. companies are making an equal investment of $100 billion U.S. dollars in Australia’s liquefied natural gas sector. The return on this investment will be Australia’s emergence as the world’s largest LNG supplier by 2020.
LNG from Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory will power Australia, China, Japan, and South Korea for decades to come.
Thanks to ConocoPhillips and its consortium in Queensland, LNG exports to China began this year. This week, I visited Chevron’s Gorgon facility on Barrow Island along with Prime Minister Turnbull. Gorgon is a triumph and we take great pride in last month’s shipment – Gorgon’s first – of LNG to Japan. Together with the company’s Wheatstone facility, Chevron’s $70 billion dollar investment in Western Australia’s LNG industry is the largest single foreign direct investment project in Australia.
These massive investments are only possible because of Australia’s strong rule of law, its commitment to international standards for labor and the environment, and because of the longstanding and close partnership between our nations.
Because, of course, such U.S. investment in Australia is nothing new.
ExxonMobil and GE have been doing business in Australia since the 19th century. In the 20th century, Chevron and ConocoPhilips followed suit; along with many other companies that are part of the great American tradition of investment in Australia. These U.S. companies have invested billions of dollars in Australia, created thousands of well-paying jobs, and helped to spur innovation and growth. They stayed the course in Australia through good times and tough times. In short, Americans have made a long-term commitment to Australia.
And, in the 21st century, and beyond, our companies will continue to contribute billions of dollars to the Australian economy.
Today, the United States is Australia’s largest foreign investor. U.S. direct investment in Australia stands at $180 billion. That is 25 percent of Australia’s total foreign direct investment. Our indirect investment in Australia surpasses the $600 billion dollar mark. That is phenomenal!
Together, the United States and Australia can lead an energy revolution. The global demand for energy – cleaner energy – continues to increase. In concluding the recent Paris Agreement on climate change, the nations of the world spoke loudly, clearly, and in one voice: clean energy will be the hallmark of this century. And LNG is part of our clean energy future.
There are game-changing developments taking place right now. Australians and Americans have pioneered the innovative technology required to keep costs low, improve efficiency, and minimize environmental impact. And, across Australia, U.S. companies are breaking new ground. ConocoPhillips developed new flare technology for its Curtis Island LNG facility and supports a carbon offset program in West Arnhem Land.
Here in Western Australia, Chevron is eliminating up to four million tons of greenhouse gas emissions at Gorgon by utilizing state of the art carbon capture and sequestration technology. Instead of being released in to the atmosphere, carbon emissions are captured and trapped in an underground reservoir. Both of Chevron’s WA projects marry the development of energy resources with praiseworthy environmental stewardship, with outstanding results. Turtle, seabird, and mammal populations are thriving and the coasts and reefs are healthy. Protecting hundreds of species of unique flora and fauna can indeed go hand-in-hand with LNG production.
U.S.-Australian collaboration on energy goes beyond the LNG sector. We are partners in the development of hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy, as well as biofuels. I am excited about the partnership between U.S. companies GE and First Solar and Australia’s Verve Energy to harness the power of the sun. Their solar farm in Western Australia is the first utility-scale solar project in Australia, and highlights the immense potential for renewable energy. There is no question that the wealth of innovative talent in WA is going to make this region a center for clean energy solutions.
The U.S.-Australian energy partnership has evolved naturally from our great alliance.
We will soon mark the 74th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. At this pivotal battle of World War II, Australians and Americans fought side-by-side to turn back the Japanese advance in the Pacific. Against difficult odds, they won. And, without the Coral Sea, there could have been no Midway, no Guadalcanal, no victory in the Pacific. The last seven decades of stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region would have remained unimaginable.
The Allied victory in World War II gave birth to the ANZUS treaty. Friday this week marks 64 years since U.S. President Harry Truman ratified the ANZUS treaty. This treaty codified an alliance forged in the defense of freedom and human dignity.
And while our alliance is often defined in terms of the battles we’ve fought together, today, the alliance between the United States and Australia is about much, much more than security.
Just as U.S. companies are investing in Australia’s energy sector, the United States is investing in its relationship with Australia.
American and Australian technology pioneers will transform our societies. Americans, including me, flocked to Perth in December for WestTechFest, Unearthed, and associated events. In February, a great mob of Australians traveled to Silicon Valley for the inaugural Australia United States Business Week and the opening of Australia’s first innovation “landing pad.”
And, when we are talking about innovation, our cooperation on space exploration is innovation at its finest. NASA has invested $100 million dollars in Tidbinbilla over the last two years in preparation for the Mission to Mars. American and Australian scientists will not only put humans on Mars; they will advance technology by leaps and bounds. This technology will power our industries into the future.
A future marked by greater integration and freer trade. Led by our free trade agreement, the AUSFTA, and the energy sector, we have built a $1 trillion dollar economic relationship between the United States and Australia. This tremendous figure is poised to grow even larger with the approval of the TPP by all 12 partner countries, and further fueled by innovation and mutual investment.
From energy to environment, from security to outer space, we cooperate on everything. Our countries and our region are stronger for it. All of you are part of it. Our alliance is an alliance for the innovation, investment, and growth that will underpin stability and prosperity in the 21st century.
Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.