Business Luncheon Reception Hosted by Trade and Investment Queensland (for UK and Europe Businesses)
Thank you Ken, for your kind introduction. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Kaye and I are truly honoured that you have joined us this afternoon, and that you have done so with such enthusiasm.
We have a genuine and enduring affection for London, a city that, over the years, has offered us a cornucopia of historical, artistic, and vocational fulfilment. This visit is especially rewarding for us, because it is our first since I was sworn in as Governor of Queensland - the personal representative of Her Majesty The Queen, in the magnificent State Kaye and I (and I know many of you here today) so proudly call home. This is particularly so, as our home city, Brisbane, prepares to host the G20 Leaders’ Summit next month.
In 1860, Henry Jordan was employed as Queensland’s first Agent-General, tasked with selling the newly formed State of Queensland to Britain, and to the world. This direct diplomatic link is one of the longest-standing between an Australian State and Britain, and it highlights the significance the Queensland Government places on its long-established relationships with the UK and Europe.
And rightly so, given that the UK and Europe by far provide the largest source of direct foreign investment into Australia, currently in excess of AUD$716 billion.
Queensland’s economic environment, with expanding gas and coal sectors and great potential for the oil and gas shale sector, alongside forecast economic growth, offers investors an ideal sound, safe and long-term investment climate.
The Queensland Government has committed itself to developing its traditional sectors through the four pillars policy of infrastructure, mining, agriculture and tourism, but it is also committed to developing future industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and aviation; the UK and Europe will undoubtedly be key partners, driving growth in these areas.
Importantly, just as the UK is the gateway for many Queensland and Australian companies in Europe, Queensland, too, can be the gateway for UK and European businesses looking to enter the emerging Asia/Pacific markets. The Queensland Government already has a number of trade and investment offices, and long-standing relationships at the government and industry level, to assist businesses to expand into these markets.
The easing of the Australian Dollar against the Pound Sterling has also aided our traditional export markets in the resource, education, tourism and agricultural sectors, which continue to grow strongly on the back of Asian growth.
It is for these reasons we place such significance on strengthening the established trading relationship with the UK, which is Australia’s sixth largest two-way trading market, and with Europe, a region of utmost importance to us, and a beacon of dynamism in the global economy.
I should also mention that the UK is the third largest international source market for tourist visitation to Queensland, and just over a third of all UK visitors come to Queensland. In this area, I see great opportunities for growth, particularly in the lead-up to the 2015 I-C-C Cricket World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, as I am sure the travelling Barmy Army will increase our two-way trade, although it is yet to be seen if their presence can also lift England out of the doldrums of the I-C-C rankings …
Kaye and I are truly honoured that you have joined us here, to strengthen a relationship based on more than sentiment and mere cultural-affinity, but one that goes to the nuts-and-bolts of what sets our nations apart from the rest of the world.
Thank you, whole-heartedly, for doing business in Queensland, you are contributing to our ongoing economic prosperity. Please, enjoy the hospitality on offer, and make sure you harry our Agent-General, and host of today’s gathering, Ken Smith. Our brilliant staff in the Trade and Investment Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland offices are here to promote Queensland to UK businesses that have already made significant investments, and those considering investment in our markets. Ken tells me he’s even had a call from the England and Wales Cricket board, who are looking to invest in new talent following England’s dismal Ashes performance last Australian summer…
Please, let us enjoy this wonderful occasion. Thank you.