NEWS ANCHOR: The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan met with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop for talks in Dublin today. The two discussed strengthening trade and investment links between Ireland and Australia as well as the challenges posed by Brexit. Ms Bishop said that Britain leaving the EU represents an opportunity for Ireland. Ms Bishop spoke to our Business Editor, David Murphy who began by asking her what advice she would have for the Irish government.
JULIE BISHOP: There is a lot of negative talk about the consequences of Brexit but from Australia’s perspective we see this as a great opportunity for a country like Ireland, for example to be the gateway into the European Union and I think Australian companies will be very interested in working and investing in Ireland as their bridge into the European Union. Britain in the past took that role but I think this is a real opportunity for Ireland.
JOURNALIST: In 1973 when Britain went into the EU it made a big change for Australia and indeed New Zealand. They used to sell a lot of goods into the UK and that led to a certain re-orientation of your economy. How did your economy overcome that challenge of finding new markets?
JULIE BISHOP: We certainly had significant economic consequences from Britain’s entry into the European Union. What it made us realise is that we had to diversify, we couldn’t have all our eggs in the British basket, and so we sought out new markets from around the world. We liberalised trade, we made our own economy more attractive, trying to bring foreign direct investment into Australia, but it made us realise we needed to sell our goods and services around the world.
JOURNALIST: How do you think Ireland should go about finding those new markets with the challenge of Brexit coming?
JULIE BISHOP: I think this will be a natural consequence of Brexit. I’ve been here in Dublin – I’ve seen the innovation, the creativity, the diversity and the skilled work force you have to offer. You also have a very attractive corporate tax rate and I think the environment is here to attract more business, more investment and Ireland is promoting itself as a great place to do business and to invest, and I know that Australia is certainly looking at it in that light.
JOURNALIST: Within Europe, the U.S. and indeed Australia many people have significant issues with immigration and there’s a changing environment. Do you think that the many Irish people who have the opportunity to travel to Australia could feel the negative consequences of that in future years where there is some sort of clampdown or a change in their ability to travel to Australia?
JULIE BISHOP: We welcome Irish people to Australia. We have a huge Irish diaspora in Australia in any event - about two million Australians claim Irish heritage. But, particularly, young Irish are coming to Australia under working holiday visas, as students, tourists, and they are welcome. We look for skilled migration. Australia has been built on immigration and hopefully, in years to come, we will see more Irish coming to Australia. We certainly want to keep them.
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