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Malcolm Turnbull remarks at Business Leaders Roundtable - Washington DC

  • Written by Malcolm Turnbull

Thank you very much Joe. And I want to thank you and your team at the embassy working together with the Business Council of Australia putting together this great delegation.


This is the most substantial delegation of Australian business leaders, joined of course by Premiers and Chief Ministers. The only absentees are those that are fighting elections and of course as we all know that is always the highest priority. So, they are not here but everyone else is here and it is a demonstration of the depth and breadth of the Australian-U.S. relationship in in economic terms and of course in the terms that we normally spend most of our time in this city talking about which is national security, defence, strategy and so forth.


But this economic partnership is one that sometimes gets overshadowed or overlooked by the all of the big national security issues that we focus on.


We know that there are nearly 200,000 Americans working for Australian companies here and a huge - about one in 12 jobs in Australia - private sector jobs in Australia are working for U.S. owned companies. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia and the United States is the biggest destination for Australian foreign investment.


The reality is that we have an economic partnership that is unsurpassed but of course it all depends on people bringing people together and that is why it's so important that you're all here today.


It's also very important that our Premiers and Chief Ministers are here today as well and meeting with, the Governors, the National Governors Association also. As we all know, just like there is more to America than Washington and New York, there's more to Australia than Canberra or even Canberra and Sydney where Gladys and I both live. But both countries are big countries and it's very important to engage across the breadth and length of our nations.


I want to say how inspired we have been and encouraged by the tax reforms here. You know, it used to not be contentious actually even in the contentious environment of Australian politics that if you reduce business taxes and increase the return on investment you get more investment. It's kind of obvious, and if you get more investment you get more jobs.


We're starting to see the benefit of that. What we've done already in Australia. I think as you've heard me say many times 403,000 jobs were created last year. That is the biggest number ever and the longest run of monthly jobs growth since people started counting them, well back as far back as the 70s. There is no period as strong as what we're seeing at the moment and it is being driven by business and a 90 per cent of people work in the private sector and it is critically important that everything we do as governments and as leaders, just as President Trump in his administration are doing here, is designed to encourage investment which of course has the consequence of growing businesses and growing jobs and employment.


We've obviously one of the issues that been a matter of concern in both countries has been, while we have seen strong jobs growth we have seen lower than desirable, if you like, or lower than expected growth in real wages. But, as I've observed from time to time and many others have too - the laws of supply and demand have not been suspended.


And if you continue stronger economic growth you get more demand for labor and you will start to see growth in real wages and we're starting to see the signs of that now beginning in Australia. And of course we've seen a very strong sign of that here in the United States in response to the tax reforms.


So, this is a great time to talk, to work out new opportunities. We want to make this a year, the centenary of our partnership our security partnership if you like, 100 years of mateship. Great campaign the Joe and the embassy has been undertaking here, 100 years since John Monash led Australian and American troops into battle at the Battle of Hamel and we've been fighting together side by side ever since.

But you know the economic partnership which is enabled by security and then in turn enables us to afford our security.


You can't have one without the other security and prosperity go hand in hand. And what we need now is to ensure that we push the envelope and do everything we can to create more opportunities on this side of the Pacific and in Australia, to generate that investment and jobs and growth.


There are so many of you are doing such great work with the US Navy is going to name a new littoral combat vessel, the USS Canberra. That is a really signal honour but do you know that ship is built in Alabama by an Australian company by an Australian company with thousands of Americans work in the shipbuilding industry here in the United States.


But this ship is built by an Australian firm in Mobile, Alabama and of course you know Anthony Pratt whose leadership and dedication to both investment in Australia and America is so well noted and applauded it's making big capital commitments both in Australia and in the United States creating more jobs in both markets so it's not it's not a zero sum game.


What we can do is be partners in commerce as we have been partners in security and we're looking forward to another hundred years of mateship. Thank you all very much and look forward to a good discussion.

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