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Transcript 40770

Remarks to the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/02/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40770

Location: Sydney

Good morning, and to all the visitors welcome to Sydney. It was a beautiful ride in this morning on the ferry, best $5.70 you could spend.

So, thank you Jennifer. The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, welcome Stephen, former Prime Minister of Canada. His Excellency Tony Negus, the Australian High Commissioner to Canada. His Excellency Paul Maddison, Canadian High Commissioner to Australia

In 2012, Lucy and I had the privilege of attending this Forum in Toronto, and it’s wonderful that our hometown Sydney—where the first forum was held—is hosting it once again.

This gathering has the very pragmatic purpose of exploring the economic landscape Australia and Canada share in this global age of change. We are living in a time when the pace and scale of change is without precedent. This gathering also has, apart from that practical purpose, a very symbolic one representing the warm and abiding friendship between our two countries - a friendship steeped in history, affinity and common values.

We share, of course, the heritage of the Commonwealth. We are political, institutional and cultural cousins. And we congratulate Canada on this year’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. As an occasional – although perhaps distant in time nowadays – student of Australian constitutional history, I can say Prime Minister, that our founding fathers, when they were writing the Australian Constitution, paid great attention to the British-North America Act and all the experience of Canada and Canadians as they brought together their provinces into one nation.

We both have relatively small populations living at the edge of vast, magnificent wilderness, rich in natural resources. We have both emerged recently from once-in-a-generation terms-of-trade booms, a topic I’ve no doubt will be examined closely. And we have been longstanding allies on the world stage, side-by-side in the momentous currents of the 20th century, and now the 21st.

The first Canadian trade commissioner stepped ashore in Sydney in 1895, but the comings and goings across the Pacific began much earlier. Not far from here, on the Parramatta River, two bays bear the intriguing names ‘Canada’ and ‘Exile’. They refer to the 58 French Canadian rebels—les patriotes—who were transported here as convicts in 1840. So at least the Canadians who came to this conference came here voluntarily.


Their story links Canada’s political evolution with our own, both seeking the ‘True North’ of freedom and equality.

A hundred years ago, after the ANZACs and the Newfoundland Regiment fought together in the Dardanelles, our respective Prime Ministers, Sir Robert Borden and Billy Hughes, secured membership in the Imperial War Cabinet, allowing them to influence the direction of the First World War.

After the Second World War, where we fought again, side-by-side, we were both founding members of the United Nations, where we’ve worked together ever since to advance peace, prosperity and human rights across the world.

Today, our engagement covers development, trade, investment, education, intelligence-sharing – we’re part of the Five Eyes - defence and security, as well as innovation and technology.

Canada’s expertise in digital innovation has led to its technology companies investing here in recent years, including CAE, focused on defence and security, CGI on IT services for utilities, and D2L, eLearning solutions. And many others; we have more than 4,000 Canadian students attending our schools and universities, and more than 15,000 Australians and Canadians travel to each other’s shores every year under a working holiday agreement. I understand in some of the ski resorts in British Columbia, it is often hard to find a Canadian.


We have two-way trade in goods and services worth more than $6 billion a year.

Our friendship is tried and true, and as the Trade Minister and I were discussing a moment ago, it will only strengthen in the days ahead.

Of course, as I have noted, we are really honoured to have in our company here today Stephen Harper. A great conservative Prime Minister of Canada for almost ten years, Stephen led a decade of remarkable economic and political stability and was perhaps left scratching his head at the number of Australian Prime Ministers he met during his tenure.


His successor Prime Minister Trudeau and I were both new Prime Ministers at the G20 in 2015 and I have enjoyed, as has Lucy, getting to know him and his wife Sophie. While our parties are on different sides of the political spectrum, nonetheless we have a great deal in common. The values that we share as Canadian and Australian Prime Ministers, we have had plenty to discuss.

Recently I spoke to the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Trudeau, to offer my condolences in the wake of the shocking attack in a Quebec Mosque. Australians stood in solidarity with Canadians against this attack on our most cherished ideals, freedom and diversity. Of all the things we have in common, freedom and diversity stand out as enduring and defining values. We have each been shaped and enriched by these values, and we will always stand together when they are threatened.

Both Canada and Australia are successful multicultural societies. As the Australian Prime Minister I always say that we are the most successful multicultural society in the world. But I won’t have an argument with the Canadians about that if they have a different view.


Nonetheless it is a very, very significant achievement and worth reflecting on, in age where intolerance seems to be worse in many parts of the world. When people with difference backgrounds who have lived together for centuries seems no longer able to do so, it is remarkable that here in this city, Sydney, where a third of people in this city were not born in Australia.

In this nation we have a much higher percentage of people born outside of Australia, or a parent born outside of Australia than, for example, the United States, which is seen as one of the great melting pots of the world in terms of its diversity of population. So we have been very successful.

The reason we have been so here in Australia, the success of our multicultural society is built on the foundation of mutual respect. But also, I must say, on the public’s confidence that their Government – that’s to say the Australian Government – and it alone, determines who comes to Australia and the circumstances in which they reside or stay here. That is critically important that those foundations have been the basis of this extraordinary multicultural success.

Now in the same way, our two nations stand together to defend our open economies - in the G20, OECD, APEC and the World Trade Organisation. We will continue to work together towards regional economic integration.

While Australia is disappointed at the decision United States to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we are continuing to talk to other signatories, including Canada, on how we can use the work that has been done to capture the TPP’s enormous economic and strategic benefits. Just as we have upheld our shared values of liberty and democracy, Australia and Canada, I know, will speak with one voice on the imperative of defending free trade and open markets around the world, because we know this is the road to prosperity.

Those who believe that protectionism is a ladder to get out of the low-growth trap, are making a big mistake.

It is, in fact a great big shovel to dig that hole deeper. Protectionism, we know, we’ve seen that film before, leads to poverty. That’s why we are committed here in Australia, to open markets and free trade. We know trade means jobs. We believe Australians are so smart, so competitive, so good that we want to have the biggest and most open playing fields to run on to.

We don’t just want to sell what we make and what we create to 24 million Australians. We want to sell to the whole world. So the more markets we can open up, we will.

One of the reasons - as you’re here as the Australian participants in this conference – one of the reasons we have been able to transition much more successfully from the wind-down of the mining and construction boom that many distinguished economists forecast, was because of the free trade agreements that we opened up. Korea, Japan, China and of course in Singapore and generally being able to develop bigger markets for what we produce. It’s made an enormous different in regional Australia, parts of Australia which have been hard hit by the downturn in mining construction. It was always going to happen, as we all know. Canadians and Australians know plenty about the resources sector. Investment is lumpy. We get an increase in demand, some big investment, and then that’s done and then the production phase goes through and it provides revenue, it doesn’t provide the same level of employment.

So there is always that risk of a very hard landing. That has been mitigated, offset, to a very large extent, by exports. By trade. Trade means jobs.

So it’s not something we picked up in an economics textbook. It’s not a theoretical thing. This is about businesses, large and small. It’s about big companies, selling those massive commodities. Its about universities, it’s about mum and dad businesses in Tasmania, selling honey, selling wine, selling the produce of Australia. Right across the nation, trade means jobs. 

So I want to welcome you once more, and wish you all a very enjoyable forum here in Sydney. Have a great time. I loved being in Toronto all those years ago and I hope you can compare your beautiful lakes in Toronto with our beautiful harbour here in Sydney.

Thank you very much.


Transcript 40770