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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 12307

Address at the Opening of ABN AMRO's Australian and New Zealand Head Office, Sydney

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: 14/02/2001

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 12307

Subjects: ABN AMRO; globalisation; advantages of businesses in Sydney; Australian economy.


Well thank you very much Steve Crane, Wil Jiskoot, Peter Young, ladies and gentlemen. I didn't have very far to come tonight, my office is next door and I've heard the progress of construction of this building over the last 18 months. But I was remarking as I came up in the lift that I forgive all that noise because it's nice to come to the opening of a branch of a bank.

But I do want to take the opportunity of thanking ABN AMRO for its contribution to the financial community in Australia. It is the sixth largest bank in the world and its operation employs something like 750 people in three locations in Australia. And I can't but agree with our friend from the Netherlands that this location is quite an outstanding one and I'm sure you will not want for willing applicants to work in such marvellous surroundings.

But an occasion like this is yet another reminder to all of us of the processes of financial and economic globalisation. It's a word that's invoked frequently, it's a word that embraces a large number of economic activities, and it's a description of change and a process which is with us forever. Properly managed and properly understood and properly harnessed, it can be of enormous benefit to people all around the world. But as all of us understand it carries costs and it carries adjustment impacts on people. And it's particularly incumbent on we in Government, and you in the business community, who perhaps see more immediately than some others the benefits of globalisation, to understand that not all of the people of Australia are as perhaps enthusiastic about globalisation as many in this room may be. That is not a suggestion that we should in any way turn our backs on it, but it is a reminder that we need to understand that it can have disparate impacts on different sections of the community. And we should understand that and be sensitive towards it.

I will of course be forgiven for remarking that any sign of increased investment in this country, any sign of the expansion of large organisations in this country, which the opening of this new head office represents, is a further indication of the world wide esteem in which Australia is held, and the particular attractions of this country, and particularly of the city of Sydney, as a centre for the location of financial organisations. There are few cities in the world that can match the attractions of Sydney, the relatively low costs, the stable economic environment, the coherent, predictable and reliable and transparent legal system. The magnificent lifestyle and the openness and the friendliness of the people of this city, and indeed the people of our nation. And I'm very pleased to work with the State Governments, not only here in New South Wales, but all around Australia to attract companies to establish their headquarters.

And I'm very pleased to say to you, Will, and to all of your board, that you find an Australian economy, which according to the latest advice from the Reserve Bank, is still growing quite strongly. We will of course be affected in some way by the cooling off, if I can put it that way, which has occurred in the United States, and it's unrealistic to imagine that that won't have some affect on Australia. But because of decisions that have been taken over the past few years and the strength of the foundations of the Australian economy, there's every reason to believe that the impact will be modest, the impact will be containable and that although there will be some slowing in the rate of economic growth, the slowing will not be such that it will cause any significant concern. And just as this country was able to manage the impact of the Asian economic downturn, and stare it down in a way that exceeded the expectations of so many, I think it will also be the case, properly managed, that we can do the same in relation to the impact that is going to be felt in Australia by changes in the focus of the American economy over the next 12 months.

ABN AMRO has had a very long association with Australia. It goes back to 1970, it's played a major role in many interactions between the Government and financial sector in Australia, its been a significant contributor to the financial sector advice that has come to the Government I lead. It's lead by a very highly regarded and respected group of people, and can I say on behalf of the Government that I'm delighted to be associated with this activity, with this opening. I wish ABN AMRO well. I hope that the association between our two countries and the association between Australia and your bank continues and grows. And I see tonight's event as a very positive demonstration of the appeal of Australia and the appeal of Sydney as a financial centre. I take the opportunity of thanking AXIS, the Government organisation led by Les Hoskings, which has played such a major role in extolling the virtues and the benefits of Australia as a centre of financial activity. We think it's got enormous benefits, we think we've added to those benefits with the reforms that we've undertaken as the Government over the past few years. We intend to maintain the momentum of those reforms and we hope to see more ABN AMROs years into the future taking advantage of the very welcoming climate that Australia offers for this kind of headquarters.

Thank you.


Transcript 12307