(As prepared for delivery – August 14, 2017)
First of all, this morning, I would like to thank our speakers; the researchers; and the corporate sponsors—all of whom helped bring today’s launch and the Foreign Investment Study together.
And what a valuable study this is. This research places a vital aspect of the U.S.–Australian alliance into the spotlight—where it rightly belongs. It will greatly help to explain how U.S. foreign investment supports the Australian economy and why the U.S. is Australia’s number one economic partner.
Of course, I have a vested interest in this topic. It’s my job—my mission—to ensure the Australian people not only understand the value of our economic alliance, but also realize all of the opportunities that it presents.
Because while every Australian and American knows that we are great friends, it’s unfortunate that certain aspects of our relationship, particularly our economic relationship, are perhaps too often overshadowed by the political headline of the day.
We’ve seen this most recently with the great US–China dichotomy—Australia’s Sophie’s Choice, or so we’ve been led to believe. Skewed perceptions like these can have the effect of making our alliance seem perhaps less critical or less important than it really is.
And that’s exactly why this report is so important.
We can repeat the headline—that the United States is Australia’s leading economic partner. We can punctuate it with a few big numbers—like the AU$861 billion Americans had invested here at the close of 2016. But what does that actually mean for Australia? What is this money doing and why should Australians care?
It’s only when we begin scratching below the surface of these observations that we see how American investment has a wide-reaching effect within the Australian economy. For example:
- When Fox Studios shot the Oscar-nominated film Hacksaw Ridge in New South Wales, they not only showcased the versatility of the outback, but they also brought 720 jobs to rural and regional communities.
- America’s Boeing was the first original equipment manufacturer to participate in Australia’s Defence Global Supply Chain Program. And with $350 million worth of contracts awarded to Australian companies over the past decade, Boeing is well and truly helping to develop the capacity of Australia’s aerospace supply chain.
- And while the U.S. isn’t directly Australia’s largest trading partner, projects like Gorgon—Chevron’s $70 billion LNG project in WA—will assist Australia in becoming the world’s leading exporter of LNG within the next few years.
Those are just some examples.
The Foreign Investment Study has provided a big picture lens through which we can look at these smaller individual connections. It allows people to see beyond the numbers and recognize the actual and positive effects of American investment—the benefits to the domestic workforce, to broader trade relationships; and to growth and innovation.
I want to thank the Treasurer, the Hon. Scott Morrison, for joining us this morning to share your perspective on foreign investment.
I think your comment late last year, that ‘Australia’s economic success has been built on capital from overseas’ goes to the heart of this study—highlighting to Australians and Americans alike, the benefits of our economic relationship. Your presence here speaks volumes to the Australian Government’s recognition of and commitment to our alliance. Thank you.
Thank you to Professor Richard Holden for your excellent work in leading this project. It is fantastic to have someone of your considerable expertise behind the report, and we appreciate your time here this morning to present these compelling findings.
And finally, my great thanks to the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia and the corporate sponsors, and particularly to Simon and Niels here today. This body of work will be so valuable going forward in letting us demonstrate actual outcomes and helping us to promote the value of the American dollar down under—both to businesses back home and to the community in Australia. Congratulations on a fine piece of research.
Once again, please join me in thanking our esteemed friends and colleagues.