The Australian-German Relationship in the Digital Age

CeBIT Australia Official Opening

Speech. Check against delivery, E&OE

31 May 2011

Ich heisse meinen guten Freund, Guido Westerwelle, den Aussenminister der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, herzlich willkommen.

(Welcome to my good friend, Guido Westerwelle, Federal Foreign Minister of Germany.)

Willkommen in Sydney, das internationale Tor nach Australien.

(Welcome to Sydney, Australia’s international gateway.)

Willkommen am Sydney Hafen, den der Gouverneur der ersten europäischen Siedlung in Australien, Kapitän Arthur Phillip, als "schönsten Naturhafen der Welt" beschrieben hat.

(Welcome to Sydney Harbour, described by Royal Navy Captain Arthur Phillip, the Governor of the first European settlement in Australia from 1788, as "the finest natural harbour in the world.")

Kapitän Phillip war der Sohn eines Deutschen aus Frankfurt, der nach England ausgewandert war. Mit seinem scharfen deutschen Blick hat er diesen Hafen als wertvollen natürlichen Schatz erkannt.

(Phillip himself was the son of a German immigrant from Frankfurt and therefore one with razor-sharp German eyes to identify a natural asset.)

Willkommen in Australien, eine der leistungsstärksten, fortschrittlichsten Wirtschaftsnationen der Welt in den vergangenen zwanzig Jahren.

(Welcome to Australia, one of the best performing advanced economies in the world over the last twenty years.)

Und willkommen zur CeBIT Australia 2011.

(And welcome to CeBIT Australia 2011.)

In April 1969 the first long-haul containerised freight arrival from Europe docked not far from here at Balmain wharf.

It ushered in a new era for Australia, an earlier phase of today’s modern globalisation that broke down some borders hampering trade.

Today, Port Jackson may not handle international container trade but it is still Australia’s largest cruise port.

There was a record 120 cruise visits to the harbour in 2008-09, bringing 250 000 people to Sydney.

This world-class harbour has been bringing people, goods and ideas from around the world to Australia since it was first settled.

Australia is the world’s 13th largest economy.

We are the fourth largest in Asia.

Australia has not fallen into recession over the past 19 years.

Australia has the lowest gross debt among OECD countries.

Despite the impact of natural disasters, Australia is set to lead the major advanced economies by returning its budget to surplus in 2012-13.

By 2012-13, Australia will be one of only a few OECD countries to record a budget surplus.

The Asian Century

We are living through a unique eastwards shift in the balance of the global economy.

Asia is home to 3.8 billion people – over half the world's population.

By 2030, wider East Asia is forecast to account for 40 per cent of global GDP.

China will dominate this growth story – its growth potential is highlighted when you consider that Australia and China had economies of comparable size back in 1990.

China is now the world’s second largest economy and almost five times the size of Australia.

China’s new economic growth model for the future (what I call China 2.0), is a model based on domestic consumption, the services sector and cleaner energy, and will help build the world’s largest economy by 2030.

For example, in China alone by 2015, there will be 93 cities, each with a population of more than 5 million (i.e. bigger than any city in Germany or Australia) and eight cities with more than 10 million.

Digging deeper again, a significant proportion of future growth will take place in mid-size cities of which most of us have never heard.

Other Asian economies are also globally significant:

  • Japan's economy remains the world's third-biggest.
  • Korea is also an emerging mega economy, currently about the same size as Australia's.
  • India is now the world’s fourth largest economy, predicted to grow around 8 per cent per year over the next five years.
  • Indonesia, Vietnam and other regional economies are also growing fast.

Australia has benefited enormously from these changes.

We are deeply integrated with the economies of the region.

Our mining – and equally critically our mining service sectors.

Our specialist manufacturing.

Our financial services sector – in particular our funds management industry which is at $11.7 trillion is the fourth largest in the world.

Our architectural, design and construction services sector.

Our education services sector which is one of the top three preferred destinations for Asian students.

Our tourism sector is a preferred destination for the rapidly growing middle class of this dynamic region.

And to service all these sectors, we have vast numbers of dual-language Australian citizens competent in the languages and the cultures of the region.

More broadly, against all international testing, we have one of the best educated, best trained and best skilled workforces in the world.

We have five of the world’s top 100 universities.

We have multiple world ranking scientific research institutes across the range of the physical and life sectors – including the CSIRO whose researchers invented WIFI, and the critical technologies deployed by CISCO and Microsoft worldwide.

We have a dynamic new materials sector.

We have a dynamic biotechnology and biomedical sector.

We also have a dynamic ICT sector – not just one driven by large scale technology application across our economy, but also innovation driven in part by government procurement.

We are also laying out a National Broadband Network, which will deliver world-class digital infrastructure to every Australian home, business, school and medical facility - connecting us not only to each other but to the world.

Australia is therefore strongly positioned to take advantage of the great growth now unfolding across the Asia Pacific region – including in the ICT sector.

The Australian knowledge economy of the future

Australia is a diversified, knowledge economy.

Services account for 70 per cent of the Australian economy – roughly the same proportion as those of G7 economies.

Our digital economy is also a dynamic industry making real changes in people’s lives that were previously unimaginable.

The Australian historian, Geoffrey Blainey, once wrote that "distance is characteristic of Australia as mountains are of Switzerland."

Australia has always been acutely aware of its distance, not only from most of the world, but also within its borders.

This is why Australia has totally embraced the information age.

And it is why we are going to great lengths to ensure that all Australians have the opportunity to participate in the globalised world of the 21st century.

Minister Conroy this morning outlined Australia’s new Digital Economy Strategy.

It is an ambitious strategy that will see Australia among the world’s leading digital economies by 2020.

In achieving this, we have set the following goals:

  • That by 2020, we rank in the top five OECD countries for the proportion of households connected to broadband at home
  • That by 2020, we also rank in the top five OECD countries for the proportion of businesses and not-for-profit organisations using the web to drive productivity improvements and expand their customer base and growth in jobs.
  • That by July 2015, 495 000 telehealth consultations will have been delivered, giving those in the most remote parts of Australia access to specialists
  • That by 2020 Australian students across the continent will be connected to online virtual learning that will be innovative and flexible
Key to achieving this will be the National Broadband Network.

The National Broadband Network is the single biggest nation-building project in Australia’s history.

It will deliver world-class digital infrastructure to every Australian home, business, school and medical facility - connecting us not only to each other but to the world.

By doing this, we will ensure our global competitiveness, improve our social connectedness, deliver better services and boost our productivity.

It will strengthen what is already a robust and resilient Australian economy.

Australia and Germany - shared strengths

Australia and Germany have emerged from the global financial crisis with our national economic reputations enhanced.

Australia and Germany have outward-focused economies that take advantage of the opportunities of global growth.

Both show the tangible rewards from investing in technology and the digital economy.

Australia remains at the cutting edge of research and development.

The quality of our scientific research institutions is ranked 10 out of 133 countries.

Australia has produced 14 Nobel Prize winners, 13 of these have been in science.

We have developed a number of global innovations, including Google Maps, pacemakers, polymer bank notes, wireless networking technology, Cochlear’s bionic ear, the cervical cancer vaccine (Gardasil), and the flu treatment (Relenza), to name just a few.

Germany is also a world leader in innovation.

You are at the forefront of science, research, clean energy and technology.

Australia is second only to Japan as a collaborative research partner with Germany in the Asia Pacific region.

It is a partnership that is strong and will bring about important innovations.

This year, the CSIRO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems to foster scientific and research cooperation in renewable energy.

It follows two further initiatives last year by the Australian and German governments supporting research in solar photovoltaics, nanotechnology, environmental research and technologies, information and communication technologies, geosciences and marine sciences.

And Australia looks forward to working closely with Germany in these areas.

Germany-Australia relations

Germany is Australia's 10th largest trading partner (the second largest among EU countries) with a total of $14 billion of total trade recorded between the two countries in 2009.

Germany is currently Australia’s seventh largest investor and our two-way investment is valued at $78 billion.

Germany is currently also the largest source of foreign students from Europe studying in Australia.

Australia hosts over 650 German-owned businesses, including 340 German subsidiary companies which employ more than 100,000 people.

Research is one of many fields where Australia and Germany share strong bonds.

And these bonds are strengthening and expanding.

We share strong political links, with regular high-level visits between our two countries.

We work closely together on the foreign policy challenges of the world.

We are close partners in security policy – including Afghanistan where tragically both our countries have lost brave soldiers.

Our strong commercial links are growing yearly.

And now through CeBIT we are growing our engagement in this vital ICT sector for the future.

This is an important global tradeshow.

Important for both our economies.

Important also for the continued innovation that the ICT sector will generate.

Important for revolutionising the way in which business does business - in driving the next generation of productivity reform.

Important in driving energy efficiency.

Important in driving the renewable energy sector.

Important in improving healthcare - irrespective of distance.

Important in the education revolution - irrespective of distance.

Important too in reforming the way government itself does its work in delivering services across the nation.

In changing radically the way in which foreign industries do their work.

Minister Westerwelle and I are both active in the twitterverse.

Both using social media to get important information to the travelling public - travel advisories around the world.

The economic needs, the social needs, are great.

And so are the business opportunities, both for Germany and Australia.

So let’s work on this great, path-breaking enterprise for the future.

Good for Germany.

Good for Australia.

Good also for the world.


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