(as prepared for delivery December 1, 2017)
Thank you very much to the G’Day USA sponsors and partners for inviting me to join this morning’s launch. Minister Bishop and Minister Ciobo—my work, and the work of the U.S. Mission in Australia, is made easier by your steadfast enthusiasm for our unparalleled bilateral relationship. Thank you.
As Consul General, I’m fortunate to experience the breadth of the U.S.–Australian partnership each and every day—such as yesterday, when I joined American Chamber of Commerce members in Brisbane on a “Biz Bus” tour to visit and learn from U.S. and Australian companies, or two weeks ago in Moree when I toured the largest pecan farm in the Southern Hemisphere, an innovative farm started and still owned by an American family.
But not everyone is aware just how deep our connection runs, and that’s where the G’Day USA initiative is so fantastic. Because as exceptional as my team is, as much ground as we cover, and as many Australians as we talk with each year—I think we all realize that none of us have the messaging appeal of Chris Hemsworth. It’s true.
The G’Day USA initiative reflects the strength of our relationship. Last financial year, there was an 8% year-on-year growth in the number of Australian trips to the United States for business or pleasure, and Australia has seen even more significant growth coming from the United States.
Our two countries have been side by side for a long time. What’s behind this enduring partnership? And, more importantly, how can you engage with the world’s largest economy?
One factor in our indispensable relationship is that the United States is ranked 6th in the world on the Ease of Doing Business scale. Look no further than AFL footballer-turned-café-owner Nick Stone who’s been busy spreading an appreciation for flat whites and smashed avo across America. Or paper mogul Anthony Pratt, who earlier this year committed to invest an additional $2 billion in the United States over the next decade. Pratt’s company Visy was established here in Australia nearly 70 years ago, and today Visy’s sister company—Pratt Industries—employs 7000 people in the United States and has manufacturing facilities in more than 25 states.
In fact, Australian firms in the United States employ more than 180,000 Americans, and these firms generated $60 billion in sales last year—that’s six times the value of Australian merchandise exports to the United States.
Indeed, Australian investment in U.S. toll roads, highways, and LNG facilities across our country both diversifies Australian pensioners’ annuation funds, and improves our country’s infrastructure—a key priority of the U.S. Government.
It’s clear that a lot of Australians have found their niche and success in the American market, and U.S. companies are also making a positive impact in Australia. The 1500 U.S. firms operating here employ 335,000 Australians, with an annual average salary of $115,000. And let’s highlight the unique opportunities our respective governments have created for our citizens. From the U.S. side, a significant example is the E-3 visa. Of all the work visas offered by the U.S. Government, the E-3 is the easiest to apply for, the fastest to obtain, and it’s available only to Australians.
Another fundamental element of our close bilateral relationship is culture. When I say culture, I don’t just mean a shared enthusiasm for the latest Marvel blockbuster—although that is important, especially when filmed here in beautiful Australia. I mean a collective understanding of the rules for doing business. Our business cultures promote reliability, fairness and market access. Operating in an environment of shared standards makes everything more straightforward and more transparent. Some places simply don’t offer that predictability.
On top of all that, if you need another reason to come and explore your options with us, just remember that Australia may lay claim to Thor, but we have Captain America.
Congratulations on the launch of G’Day USA 2018!