PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21754

Address at the Opening of Leica Geosystems Head Office Dutton Park, Brisbane

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: 17/05/2005

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 21754

Well thank you very much Mr Clement Woon, the world president of Leica Geosystems, Mr Geoff Baldwin, my parliamentary colleagues, Bob Quinn and Bruce Flegg, Councillor Michael Caltabiano, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like first of all to thank Leica Geosystems for the confidence that it has displayed in the Australian economy by deciding to locate its RD centre here in Brisbane. The Australian economy as you all know is performing very strongly. We've just delivered a Budget which would be the envy of most governments in the developed world. But having said that we must be vigilant in different ways to ensure that the economic strength and prosperity we now enjoy is maintained. And that involves an unceasing quest for new investment, for new and innovative products and the winning of fresh markets around the world. It also involves challenging certain stereotypes about the character of the Australian economy. One could be forgiven for believing that Australia's entire export performance rested upon the remarkable markets we are now benefiting from through the sale of our resources to countries in north Asia. And there is no doubt that the strength of those markets has contributed mightily to the revenues and the income of our country.

But it would be a mistake to see our export performance entirely resting on that section of the economy. And it would be a mistake to overlook the tremendous diversification built on the innovative and research skills of Australian workers that has occurred in other aspects of our resource market, of our export markets. And that of course is where the contribution of this company comes in. This company exports to 23 destinations out of Australia. It exports products which are of particular relevance to the mining and construction industry. They're high grade products, they result from investment in RD, they represent the cutting edge of the research capacity of Australians. And they are therefore a wonderful, contemporary story of the diversified face of the modern Australian economy.

I'm often asked to what do I attribute the tremendous economic performance of Australia over the last few years. And I always give pride of place to the capabilities and the diversification in the skills of the Australian workforce. Australians are renowned for many things. When it comes to our workforce and our creators, the thing for which we are most renowned is our adaptability. And the way in which the Australian workforce has changed and taken on new skills, recognised that we're living in a new world and understood that the rest of the world doesn't owe us a living, and we only have one if we're prepared to go out and win it and retain it and beat our competitors, the way in which the workers of Australia have been able to do that in recent years has been quite remarkable. And it's not only in the areas with which Australia is traditionally associated. It's also in these new cutting edge technological areas. Australia has a formidable reputation around the world in the mining industry and also in the construction industry. Not only are we great miners and great exporters of the extractive industries, but we are also - and Leica Geosystems is an example - we are building a formidable reputation in being able to provide the high quality technical equipment which is needed to maintain the mining industry not only here in Australia, which of course this company finds as its principal sales area, but also many countries around the world. The story over the last 18 months of the growth of this company here in Brisbane, the doubling of its workforce - a young workforce, a very talented diversified workforce - is very much the story of the growth and the expansion of the Australia economy over the last 10 or 15 years.

To you Mr Woon, I welcome you from Switzerland. I know of your company's long association with Australia stretching back to the 1950s. Can I welcome you to a very confident outward-looking country, a country that is able to hold its own in an unprotected world trading environment. Australia has now one of the most open economies in the world. Our tariff barriers are next to negligible in most areas. We are a nation that seeks not only markets in the extractive industries and our traditional areas of strength - farm produce - but also in highly sophisticated technical equipment, the like of which your company is well known.

You come to a vibrant city. I've often remarked that, in the more than 30 years I've been in public life in Australia, no part of our country has changed more dramatically than has the south-east corner of Queensland. The change in the city of Brisbane over that period of time has been remarkable. And it therefore offers to overseas investors a very congenial lifestyle. It offers the relaxed companionship of Australians, and it offers an area of Australia that encourages investment and encourages people to exercise their entrepreneurial skills, and I know that they are atmospherics that are appealing to any company. Can I take this opportunity - because yours is a company centred overseas - to again affirm the importance to Australia of foreign investment. This country's economic expansion in the 50 to 60 years that have gone by since the early growth after World War II has been due in no small measure to the steady flows of foreign investment.

We live in a globalised world. We have changed forever from a country that sees itself as in any way inward looking economically. We are a country that sees its main chance as being to succeed and prosper in a globalised economy, and the successful countries of the present and the future will be those that are the most proficient in taking advantage of the opportunities that globalisation offer. So I have very great pleasure in congratulating Leica Geosystems. I thank the company for investing so much money and so much of its future here in Brisbane. You will be welcome always in Australia as very good corporate citizens and a company that is making a very important contribution to this country's future. In those circumstances, and with those sentiments, I have very great pleasure in declaring this centre open. Thank you

[ends]

Transcript 21754