Oct 10, 2012

Opening Remarks: Australia – Japan Public Private Infrastructure Policy Dialogue, Parliament House, Canberra

Good morning and welcome to Canberra.

Welcome to Parliament House for the third Australia-Japan Public Private Infrastructure Policy Dialogue.

This important forum builds and strengthens the business links between our nations.

Before I begin let me acknowledge:

  • The Chairman of the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee (JABCC), Mimura‑san;
  • The President of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee (AJBCC), Sir Rod Eddington;
  • Japanese Ambassador Sato;
  • Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry,  Sasaki‑san;
  • Senior officials, AJBCC and JABCC members.

Let me also congratulate Mimura‑san on becoming a Companion of Order of Australia (AC). 

This award is a great honour.

It recognises your leadership over many years in developing the economic and trade relationships between our two countries.

Let me also congratulate both the AJBCC and the JABCC on celebrating 50 years of service.

Such longevity proves you are successful and relevant in keeping our partnerships both active and strong.

Our annual two way trade exceeds A$63 billion and Australian exports to Japan have more than doubled over the last decade.

For more than four decades Australian resources have helped fuel Japanese growth, while Japanese demand has underpinned the growth of our resources sector.

There has been Japanese investment in some of the biggest projects in this country – among them the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Melbourne’s CityLink toll road, and the Oakajee Port and Rail joint venture.

Japan has also demonstrated international leadership through its innovative engineering capability.

You have been an early innovator in the use of technology in traffic management systems, and led the way in the development of high speed rail with the infamous Bullet Train.

The Kansai International Airport shows your innovative approach to solving both growing transport needs, and the difficult community issues that tend to come with large scale infrastructure projects.

The first time I addressed the AJBCC was three years ago in Sydney.

At the time I said that having a vision for the future was critical — but unless that vision is backed by actions it is valueless.

Since coming to office in 2007, infrastructure has been a key focus of our Budgets.

That is one reason why our economy has weathered the global financial crisis better than most. 

With the assistance and advice of Infrastructure Australia — chaired by Sir Rod Eddington — we have put in place a rigorous process to identify and prioritise major infrastructure projects.

We are undertaking an unprecedented capital works program — with record investment of $36 billion in nationally significant road, rail and port infrastructure projects.  

We have backed this with a raft of microeconomic reforms to strengthen our infrastructure market, cut red tape and increase investor certainty.

I understand you will be discussing some of these initiatives during the course of your meeting.

One that you may already be familiar with is the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule (NICS) — a national database of major infrastructure projects, launched in May this year.

We’ve already had over a million hits on this website.

Japan and Australia share not just a friendship, but also a stable and extremely productive business relationship.

The challenge before us is to maintain that momentum.

Your organisations are perfectly placed to help with this.

Through you, our countries can develop new partnerships and projects in both infrastructure investment and construction.

I wish you well in your discussions today and for the remainder of your visit to Australia.

Dōmo arigatō

Thank you.