My Lord Mayor, Mr Rolet, High Commissioner Mike Rann, British High Commissioner Paul Madden, friends of Australia, friends of the United Kingdom.
Australia and the United Kingdom have one of the closest international relationships - historical, political, economic, cultural.
Even in sporting terms. Yes there's nothing quite like an Ashes Test, although one British commentator said, in Australia, over the summer after the five - nil drubbing (LAUGHTER): “I'll bet Captain Cook wishes he hadn't discovered Australia now” (LAUGHTER).
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a fact that our economic ties in terms of trade and investment are significant. Great Britain is the second largest investor, in terms of foreign direct investment in Australia, valued at about 80 billion dollars. Australia is the ninth largest investor in Britain valued at about 60 billion dollars and two way trade is about 25 billion dollars.
British capital has long contributed to Australia's economic success and we are entering the 23rd consecutive year of economic growth - one of the most resilient economies around the world.
This year we'll be hosting the G20 summit in Brisbane and we look to the United Kingdom to support our economic agenda at the G20. You will forgive me if I boast a little, in this home of the international markets, to say that I think that Australia is a top 20 country in every respect; in relation to every economic indicator that really counts Australia is in the top 20, even though population-wise it puts us at number 53.
We're number 16 when it comes to global competitiveness; 15 in terms of outward foreign direct investment from Australian investors; 13th when it comes to inward foreign direct investment; with the 12th largest economy in the world; we have the 10th largest stock exchange; the 5th most traded currency; we're the 5th largest economy in per capita terms; and we're the 4th largest economy in Asia after China, Japan and South Korea; we're 3rd when it come to the largest pool of investment funds under management and we're number one in the world for the proportion of the population with a net worth over US 100, 000 dollars.
And, according to the BBC, we're also a superpower, admittedly it's a lifestyle superpower but nevertheless it counts.
In September last year, our new Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared that Australia was under new management and was “open for business” and by that he means we have a very ambitious reform agenda which focuses on smaller government, lower taxes and a dynamic private sector which we believe should be at the heart of our economy. So we‘ve committed to reducing government debt, returning our budget to surplus. We have a commission of audit that is focusing on government expenditure. We have an ambitious productivity enhancing infrastructure agenda. We have plans, I'll say plans, to repeal unnecessary taxes - a carbon tax and a mining tax. We're just waiting on a Senate to see the light. And we are also already approving environmental projects or environmental approvals for projects worth around 400 billion dollars.
So the message is definitely that Australia is a great place to trade, a great place to do business.
We also have a very ambitious free trade agenda. We have currently seven Free Trade Agreements in place that account for about 30 per cent of our trade. We have just concluded a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea and we have nine under negotiation, including with China, Japan and the Trans-Pacific partnership and that will account for an additional 45 per cent of our trade.
The United Kingdom and Australia see the world through a very similar prism. We are both committed to open, export-oriented market economies. Our companies set very high standards around the world in terms of corporate governance and social responsibility and the Australian companies represented here on the Stock Exchange in London are no exception, doing an incredible job of providing opportunities for people around the globe.
So on the eve of the annual AUKMIN conference, that is, the annual Foreign and Defence Ministers' dialogue with my counterparts here in London, may I say how honoured I am to have the opportunity to open trading at this grand institution, in this great city. I'm a little disappointed there weren't fireworks (LAUGHTER) but there were virtual fireworks.
Long may Australian United Kingdom relations remain strong and long may this great institution endure as an example of the strength of Britain and the strength of its economy.
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