JULIE BISHOP: I have invited the Ambassadors and High Commissioners from the foreign diplomatic corps in Canberra to visit Western Australia over the next three days. We have around 80 senior diplomats here in Western Australia and I intend to showcase this State and all it has to offer as a destination for trade and investment.
This is another step in the Coalition Government’s attempts to grow our economy by increasing trade, increasing investment. Australia is a world-class destination for investment because of the strength of our mining and resource industry, the level of technological advances that this country, this State has made, and the high educational standards that our workforce has attained.
Over the next few days the diplomatic corps will join in a conference here at the University of Western Australia, entitled In The Zone – which will look at the potential and opportunities for doing business in Western Australia and throughout the Indian Ocean Asia-Pacific. The idea is to not only attract investment here into Western Australia, but also to show that we have the expertise to invest in the mining and resource sectors of other countries.
This afternoon we will be meeting with the Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston to talk about defence policy and our defence materiel capability. Tomorrow I will be hosting our delegates on a site visit to the Pilbara. As Western Australians know, we have some world-class facilities in the Pilbara. We will be visiting the Mount Whaleback iron ore mine. We will also be going to Rio Tinto’s Parker Point iron ore loading facility. But there are also other amazing projects in the Pilbara, including the Sino iron ore magnetite project, and this is an opportunity for these Ambassadors and Heads of Mission to see firsthand the sheer extent and scale of the investment here in Western Australia.
On Saturday we will be visiting Rio Tinto’s operations at the Perth Airport – a world-class technological advance in remote control air facilities in the Pilbara. In this way we are advancing the Coalition Government’s economic diplomacy efforts. It is about increasing trade, increasing investment, which means growing the Australian economy and providing more job opportunities for the Australian people.
So I am very proud of the fact that we have the largest delegation of diplomats ever to visit Western Australia and I am sure that we will see the results of these efforts in the weeks and months ahead.
JOURNALIST: How often do these sorts of things happen?
JULIE BISHOP: The last time a group of diplomats came to Western Australia I understand was in about the year 2000 under Foreign Minister Alexander Downer but this is certainly the largest group we have ever seen come to Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: What are the city sites that you think are important to showcase as well as the regional sites?
JULIE BISHOP: We are certainly taking the diplomats to places around Perth. We had breakfast at King’s Park this morning, we will be going to Fremantle, we will be going to Cottesloe beach – Indiana’s where we will be having a presentation from representatives of the Western Australian Government – we will also be attending a function at Government House this evening.
But the focus of the trip will not only be Perth and Fremantle, but most certainly the Pilbara, and it will be the first opportunity for a number of these foreign diplomats to see our projects in the Pilbara and witness it first-hand.
JOURNALIST: How does this visit relate to the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan and China last month?
JULIE BISHOP: This is all part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to what we call economic diplomacy and that is a two-way approach – not only are we seeking to attract trade and investment here into Australia, but also Australian businesses are working offshore. So it is a mutual activity, mutual initiatives to enhance trade and investment. Of course, the Coalition is committed to free trade agreements which provide job opportunities, new sources of capital and potential for our export businesses.
The Coalition Government has now concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement with both Japan and South Korea. We have negotiations underway with China and we are certainly part of the negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership. This visit is part of our overall economic diplomacy efforts.
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