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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22190

Address to the Australia/UK Leadership Forum Parliament House, Canberra

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: 27/03/2006

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22190

Well thank you very much Tony, my ministerial colleagues, ladies and gentlemen participating from both countries. I'm delighted that we have renewed the initiative that was taken in London in November of 2003 and brought together this dialogue.

Can I continue a theme that the British Prime Minister developed and that was in relation to the importance to the three issues that we are talking about this morning, and that is the growing significance of China and India. Let me put it this way, for the first time in the history of the world since the industrial revolution the centre of gravity of the middle class of the world has shifted from a combination of western Europe, North America and Australasia. And by 2010, even earlier, the centre of gravity is very much in China and India. By 2010-2015 there'll be something in the order of 400 to 800 million people who could be broadly described as middle class in both of those countries.

Now this is an historic shift, the full dimensions of which I don't believe the world and I don't believe our two societies have yet fully grasped. Now it has enormous implications, politically and strategically, and it will mould and influence the foreign policy of Australia, and indeed the foreign policy of the United States as you are seeing recent evidence of, with the initiatives taken flowing out of President Bush's visit to India and also of course the policy of the United Kingdom and the other member countries of the European Union. And of course it has very direct relevance to energy security and, of course, climate change issues. And I'd like to make the point very early that I do hope that none of our discussions sets up the Asia-Pacific Partnership for energy and development, which was inaugurated in Sydney in January, sets that up in opposition to Kyoto.

Now it is true that through good and understandable reasons the United Kingdom and Australia have adopted different approaches to Kyoto. I mean you only have to understand the character of our economies, the experience in relation to energy issues in Europe, compare those with Australia to understand why there are differences. But they are differences that should not be a problem. We in Australia, and I know I speak for our colleagues in the Partnership, do not see Kyoto and the Partnership as being in any way antagonistic to each other. Clearly a country such as Australia, with its extraordinary supplies of fossil fuels, being the largest coal exporter in world and having large reservoirs of LNG and other energy, clearly Australia is a country that is not going to lightly walk away from the sensible exploitation of fossil fuels and the use of fossil fuels in a way that increasingly will not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

And very much the focus of our approach, and we will do this through the emphasis of the Partnership, is on making certain that we get the technology underway which reduces the greenhouse polluting impact of fossil fuels. And we hope that that will be a major focus of the partnership.

But we certainly see and this echoes a point that Tony made, we certainly see the provision of secure supplies of energy to energy-hungry, middle class expanding economies of India and China as being of enormous long-term importance - not only to the growth and development of those two economies, because that growth and development is both remarkable and certainly in my view irreversible - it's also important to their security, but it's also important to the security and the stability of the region. And how various countries respond to this, including of course Australia and the United Kingdom, will be enormously important.

Can I just finish my necessarily and appropriately brief introductory remarks by saying that in relation to the movement of human capital, I share the optimistic view of, I guess most people in this room do, of globalisation. I'm instructed by the fact that the successful countries, those that have converted most rapidly and most spectacularly over the last 40 years from being closed, backward, deprived economies, are those that have embraced globalisation. Those that are still very heavily mired in those difficulties are those that have turned their back on globalisation. And globalisation of course inevitably carries with it the free movement of people of talent and ability.

And we now have an Australian diaspora of over a million, which for a nation of 20 million, is a very high percentage. That is no bad thing. I do not share the view sometimes expressed in my country that isn't that terrible, why can't we bring them all home? Now there are a variety of reasons and some of them will say it has got all to do with taxation, others used to say it had all to do with the fact that you couldn't have dual citizenship. Well we changed the dual citizenship thing a few years ago after quite an intense debate in Australia and we're always looking at ways of examining taxation matters.

But can I say that having a diaspora, given the history and the disposition of this country for its young as well as its not so young to go abroad to get experience and sometimes to make their fortune, you're always going to have a diaspora and I think that is a good thing. And my answer to those people who worry about the diaspora, the Australian diaspora is to say well you sometimes complain when you hear a non-Australian accent speaking for a company in Australia, you ought to understand that there are a lot of Australian accents speaking in other countries for the businesses of those enterprises, and that is the globalised world. And I think we have to teach our young and our talented to be adaptable, not to be parochial and I think we've been very successful at it. So I would make a very, very strong plea in any discussion about the human capital aspect of globalisation for us all to embrace the notion of the mobility of talent around the world, it's part of globalisation and Australia can be both a contributor to and a beneficiary of that process.

Can I finish on a personal note in saying I'm delighted that Tony Blair is here in Canberra. I'm delighted that our first engagement is this dialogue and I want to thank everybody from both Great Britain and Australia who've agreed to participate and we look forward to your questions and comments.

Thank you.


Transcript 22190