Australia – China Business Council Queensland Branch Chinese New Year Dinner
I acknowledge the Chair of Trade and Investment Queensland; the Honourable Mr Bredhauer; Consul General for the Republic of China in Brisbane, Dr Zhao; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
This evening, as Patron and Governor, I am delighted to join members and guests of the Queensland Branch of the Australia-China Business Council, for the first time since I was appointed as your vice-regal representative, to celebrate both the Year of the Monkey and the Queensland Branch’s 20th anniversary.
I am pleased to say that, in the past 12 months, I have had some personal experience of the Queensland-China relationship.
In August last year, I made an official visit to Hong Kong. While there, I was honoured to speak at functions celebrating the signing of important agreements between organisations in Queensland and Hong Kong in areas such as education and medical research.
I was also able to witness the current strength of the bilateral relationship at the State and national levels, and to understand better the undoubted complementarities between the Queensland and Chinese economies and the continuing potential to expand and strengthen bilateral business links.
These opportunities appear to be across a broad spectrum of business sectors, and will be further boosted by the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement signed last year.
In that respect, I note the recent strong interest from China in Australia’s high-quality food. Queensland, of course, is a well-known source of world-class food products.
It was therefore pleasing to see, in November last year, the opening of another important connection in the food sector with a trial air freight shipment of fresh Queensland food products direct from Wellcamp airport in Toowoomba to Hong Kong.
On another front, in December last year I was pleased to host a reception for delegates attending the 2015 Australia – China Youth Dialogue, the sixth such event to be held, but only the first to take place in Queensland.
No one could fail to be impressed by the high-calibre of the young people from Australia and China taking part in the Dialogue, and by their intense interest in and commitment to the relationship.
A significant number of delegates were in the early stage of their careers in business, and from my contact with these young people, I can attest that the future of our bilateral business ties is in very good hands indeed.
Global economic cycles wax and wane, but there is no doubt that the Queensland-China business and broader relationship continues to strengthen and diversify.
The relationship is underpinned, of course, by the formal government-to-government relationships at the national level, but also, in Queensland’s case, at the State and local level, through Sister-State and Sister-City relationships with China (and I acknowledge Councillor Jamieson, Sunshine Coast Mayor, who is present tonight – the Sunshine Coast and Xiamen are Sister Cities). Queensland and China’s bilateral footprint is broadened through trade representatives in multiple locations in China.
The business community is also a crucially important element in the relationship. The activities of business people create and maintain a network of company-to-company and people-to-people partnerships that drive trade and investment between our State and China, creating mutual benefit by generating revenue, profit and employment.
The Queensland Branch of the Australia-China Business Council has played a major role, for 20 years, in developing and strengthening this partnership across many business sectors from agribusiness to services.
As Governor of Queensland, I congratulate wholeheartedly the Queensland Branch of the Council, and its corporate supporters, on the Council’s achievements over the past two decades in further strengthening the Queensland-China relationship.
And I join you in looking forward to many more years of success for the Council in that role.
On that positive note, I thank the Queensland Branch of the Council for its generous hospitality this evening, and I wish you all a productive and prosperous Year of the Monkey.