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Transcript - 23575

Address to the Asia Society Texas Centre, Houston

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/06/2014

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23575

Location: Houston

It is a pleasure to be here in Houston at the Asia Society Texas Centre.

Like its sister society in Australia, the Asia Society Texas is dedicated to promoting understanding between nations.

Few nations understand each other so deeply or so well as the United States and Australia.

We are more than allies.  We’re family.

There are no countries with a stronger community of interest and values.

Our alliance exists to promote the universal decencies of humanity, not to threaten other countries.

Around the world we seek no privileges, ask no favours, crave no territory.

Our shared preference is for more open markets, more humane societies, more democratic polities and more freedom under the law.

And we share an optimistic world view that embraces the future and all its possibilities.

Our relationship is a partnership for peace, for prosperity and for greater harmony right around our region and the wider world based on respect for the rights and dignity of every human being.

People who share a language are never total strangers and our particular partnership has the character of a warm and genial friendship. 

One of the founders of the Asia Society Texas, former First Lady Barbara Bush, said in her memoir that “the people of Australia are warm, relaxed, and very much like Texans, the biggest compliment I can pay anyone[1].”

A Texan President, Lyndon B Johnson, said after his plane made a forced landing in central Queensland that Australians are “the best damn folks in the world, except maybe for the folks in Texas”.

When democrats and republicans agree that Australians are like Texans then you can take it as true.

Certainly the friendly and hospitable people of Houston resemble Australians.

Like us, you look outward, with confidence, to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

The people of Houston see your city as an energy capital in the Asia Pacific Century.

From the other side of the ocean, Australia shares with you a common interest in powering that future with abundant and reliable energy.

Affordable, reliable energy fuels enterprise and drives employment.

It is the engine of economic development and wealth creation.

Australia should be an affordable energy superpower, using nature’s gifts to the benefit of our own people and the wider world.

Plentiful energy from reliable suppliers like Australia and the United States is essential for global growth.

Australians have followed closely the success of America’s shale energy revolution that has led to the United States once again becoming one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas.

In fact, Australians have helped make it happen, with BHP Billiton one of the largest foreign investors in US shale.

Shale energy means more economic growth and more jobs for Americans – McKinsey estimates up to 1.7 million more jobs by 2020 – and the world gets a reliable, stable energy supplier with a commitment to markets and the rule of law.

Sam Houston[2] once said of Texas that “no country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages.”

Of course, General Houston never visited Australia.

Our resources are also remarkable:

Australia will soon be the world’s number one exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of black coal.

And we are the world’s third largest uranium producer.

Australian has significant resources of conventional gas, and more than one third of the world’s known uranium sources.

Western Australia alone is estimated to hold the fifth largest reserves of shale gas in the world[3].

And we have an abundance of renewable energy, including some of the best wind and solar energy sources, and large geothermal energy potential.

A dynamic flow of investment and technology across the Pacific between Australia and the United States has helped to drive massive growth in Australia’s energy production.

Chevron’s[4] Gorgon LNG project is Australia’s single largest oil and gas project investment.

ConocoPhillips and Bechtel, based here in Houston, are currently building four of Australia’s seven new LNG projects using Bechtel’s cascade technology.

Discussion about developing our natural resources often goes hand in hand with conversation about climate change and impacts on the environment.

It is prudent to do what we reasonably can to reduce carbon emissions.

But we don’t believe in ostracising any particular fuel and we don’t believe in harming economic growth.

For many decades at least coal will continue to fuel human progress as an affordable, dependable energy source for wealthy and developing countries alike.

Australia is abolishing the carbon tax because it has damaged our economy and increased energy costs for businesses and families.

We’re replacing it with a AUS$2.55 billion fund that will prioritise cost-effective, targeted means to reduce emissions such as afforestation, soil carbon and cleaner power stations.

It’s an incentive-based approach which will support Australian businesses and households to lower their energy costs at the same time as reducing Australia's emissions.

Australia is cutting red tape and getting rid of unnecessary regulation so that it is easier to do business in Australia, while maintaining our high environmental standards.

And we’re streamlining our decision making, giving the green light to new projects worth over $500 billion since the new government was elected in September last year.

Australia is also actively seeking new markets, vigorously pursuing freer trade with our key trading partners.

In words that might be familiar to this Texas audience[5], on the night of my election I declared that Australia is open for business.

Now, I know that Governor Perry declared “Texas is wide open for business” – I guess everything’s got to be bigger and better in Texas – but I say to Governor Perry, in the spirit of healthy competition, that Australia will be hard to beat. 

We recently concluded an economic partnership agreement with Japan, and signed a free trade agreement with South Korea.

We have also accelerated talks toward a free trade agreement with China.

The recently signed Free Trade Agreement with South Korea will ensure that Australia’s mining resources, including crude petroleum and natural gas, will all become tariff free over 10 years.

Australia now has trade agreements with seven of its top ten trading partners.

And we’re working with President Obama to achieve a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that is as comprehensive and ambitious as possible.

Trade is an essential part of building a stronger and more prosperous Australia.

Trade and commerce with Asia is thriving: three quarters of Australia’s exports are to Asia.

Australia is a gateway to a region of immense opportunity, and because we are more than trading partners - because we are good global citizens – we are seeking to improve the operations of the world energy market.

The global energy landscape has changed dramatically in recent decades.

Emerging economies have become major players and the balance of energy trade has shifted towards the Asia Pacific region.

As this year’s President of the G20 we want global energy institutions to reflect this reality, and want to make energy markets more transparent, resilient and efficient.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the similarities between Australia and Texas are striking.

Our populations are roughly equal with prosperity especially flowing from our energy, minerals and tourism.

We both look to the Asia Pacific region.

While Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy by GDP, the state of Texas is the 13th.

Mark Twain visited Australia in 1895 and praised our ‘spirit of independence’; likewise, the independent spirit of Texas is the stuff of legend.

And each year in Australia a special service remembers the crew of the USS Houston, which was sunk alongside HMAS Perth in 1942, in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, heroes to the last fighting a much larger force[6].

I have been buoyed to see evidence everywhere in Houston of Australians and Americans working together to meet the energy needs of the world.

That will increase with the establishment of an Australian Consulate-General here in Houston to promote and facilitate our links.

Nana Booker has well and truly alerted us to the possibilities of this city and this state over fourteen wonderful years and will forever be Honorary Consul Emeritus.

The modern world is unimaginable without energy.

Energy consumption defines prosperity.

As a world energy capital – this city is helping to power much of the planet.

And there’s more that we can do together to end energy poverty and give people everywhere the better life we all seek.



[1] Barbara Bush: A Memoir, page 446-447.

[2] Houston is named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas.

[3] US Energy Information Administration, quoted in CSIRO “Australia’s Shale Gas Resources”.

[4] Chevron is sponsoring this function

[5] Governor Rick Perry has declared “Texas is wide open for business”.  He has established a website –

[6] The Battle of Sunda Strait.

Transcript - 23575