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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11655

Address at the Official Opening of the Sun Metals Zinc Refinery, Townsville

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/2000

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 11655

E&OE..................................

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you very much for that welcome, to Mr Beattie the Premier of Queensland, to Dr Choi, to Peter Lindsay, the federal member for Herbert, my other parliamentary colleagues, Ian Macdonald, the Minister for Regional Services, Mr Jim Elder the Deputy Premier of Queensland, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is not only a pleasure but there is also a degree of symbolism in my being invited to participate in this opening today and to officially declare open this marvelous plant because this represents the largest ever investment in Australia by a Korean company and this opening takes place on the eve of my first visit to the Republic of Korea as Prime Minister of Australia. And as the Ambassador who I'm very pleased to welcome and others know I'll be leaving Cairns on Thursday to pay a two and a half day visit to the Republic of Korea to repay the courtesy extended to Australia by the President of Korea who visited our country only last year.

There are many things that one could say about this particular plant and facility. It represents an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, it symbolises a very close economic and also people to people relationship between our two nations. Korea vies with the United States to be Australia's second best export market. Korea is a country with which we have been associated in war so many years ago but we have in the years that have gone by since then built a very close partnership in peace. And the words that accompany the opening ceremony today dwell upon the partnership between our two countries that has developed over the past few decades. We have tens of thousands of Australians of Korean descent. Indeed in my own electorate in Sydney there is a very strong Korean business community so much so that there is a local Korean Chamber of Commerce.

Korea has generously purchased many Australian exports. Australia has been a reliable friend of Korea through her times of economic difficulty. Along with Japan Australia was the only other country that contributed to the three International Monetary Fund bailouts of Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. I take this opportunity of congratulating the Government and the business community of Korea for the courage they showed two years ago in confronting the reality of the Asian economic downturn and the way in which it affected their country. The Government was willing in that country to adopt the measures that were needed in order to bring the Korean economy around. And it can fairly be said that Korea has become something of a role model for other economies in the Asia-Pacific region having experienced the worst of the economic downturn but having been willing and realistic enough to adopt the measures that were needed to bring about that turn around. Australia has followed that as an anxious friend, as a willing supporter and also as a potential trade beneficiary of a stronger Korean economy.

We are now beginning to see the benefits of the turnaround in the Asian economies. It is not occurring everywhere but it is occurring in many places, not least in the Republic of Korea. And Australia having managed to escape the impact of the Asian economic downturn is now in a position to play a full role as a partner in the benefits of the economic upswing that is now gathering pace in many of the economies of the Asian Pacific region. And that of course is where this project fits in very neatly. This project will add value to the great mineral resources of Queensland. This project will add millions of dollars every year of export income to Australia. This project is an example of the partnership between the business men and women and their employees of the two countries and most particularly of the corporation Sun Metals which has been responsible for this investment. I want to take the opportunity on behalf of the federal government to thank all of those who have been involved. I thank the investors for taking the risk, I thank the various federal, state and local government authorities for facilitating the development of the project. I most particularly thank the employees of the company for the tremendous contribution that they have made. Without good workplace relations, without a partnership between management and workforce, projects of this type and this kind don't come to fruition.

Australia has an enormous number of natural economic strengths. We have great natural resources and in our understandable fascination with information technology and all that that entails we should never lose sight of the natural economic strengths that providence has given us. And in Queensland those natural economic strengths via natural resources are there in abundance and this plant builds on those and draws on those natural resources in a very sophisticated, modern and technologically based fashion. And it is another opportunity to remind ourselves that the divide between the so called new economy and the old economy is a very false divide indeed because a plant of this kind combines the resources of the old economy if you like, the natural resources, with modern sophisticated production techniques which means that the product can be delivered to the customer at a cheaper more competitive price than would otherwise be the case.

And for all of those reasons ladies and gentlemen I am very pleased to have been invited here today and I will have the opportunity when I see the President of the Republic of Korea in a few days time of conveying to him first hand my pleasure at being involved in something that symbolises in a very real way the commitment of the two countries to each other. It is a great investment by the Sun Metals Corporation. It has been made possible through a cooperative and beckoning and accommodating economic climate in Australia. Companies don't invest money of these proportions in countries that have an unwelcome attitude towards foreign investment. Foreign investment is always welcome in this country. This country owes a lot to foreign investment and those who market the proposition that in some way foreign investment is a threat to Australia do not understand the economic history of this country and do not understand what the best interests of this country represent. We have great resources, we can generate a certain amount of capital domestically to develop those resources but we will always need the investment of people from other countries, our friends and partners in friendly investing countries such as Korea to help along the process of that development.

So I congratulate all of those involved, I thank the Korean company, I thank our Korean friends for the commitment that they have made to this great project. I thank all of the Australians involved, I wish the project well and I have great pleasure in declaring it officially open.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 11655