Australia's Changing Economy - Lunch Address by The Hon. Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations; Financial Services & Superannuation
On Wednesday July 18th, 2012 the American Australian Association presented a Luncheon Address 'Australia's Changing Economy' by the The Hon. Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations; Minister for Financial Services & Superannuation.
American Australian Association Chairman, Malcolm Binks AO welcomed Minister Shorten and guests to the lunch which was sponsored by Chevron Corporation and held at The Harvard Club of New York City.
Special guests included David Anstice, former EVP, Merck & Co who introduced Minister Shorten; John Merow AO, Senior Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and former American Australian Association Chairman; Consul General Phil Scanlan; Leon Hertz AO, former EVP, News Corporation; Laura Hudson, International Government Affairs, Chevron; and Lisa Paul, Secretary, Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations. Finance, private equity and law firms were heavily represented at the sold out lunch.
Minister Shorten's speech presented lunch guests with eight principle reasons for why Australia has a positive economic future. In summary these are:
Low unemployment – Australia’s 5.2 per cent unemployment figure, which is forecase to drop further this year, is almost half that of the US and most of Europe;
Low public debt – after the Global Financial Crisis, Australia's public debt is low at around 7 per cent of GDP. This contrasts favorably to Europe and the rest of the world, for example US debt hovers close to 100% of GDP;
Geographic Location – Australia has the advantage of adjacency to Asian markets and a 'superpower' population;
Modern Economy – 8 ½ per cent of Australian’s work in the manufacturing sector and nearly 80 in every 100 people work in services;
Growing population – Australia’s birth and immigration rate have been steadily increasing. The Minister favorably compared increasing immigration rates to that of other countries, including the US;
Optimistic outlook – studies show Australian’s are a moderately happy people over 70 per cent of the time, compared with American's who are 48 per cent happy and the British who are 9 per cent happy;
Political Stability – the Australian political system is stable, despite having a minority government – the goverment is able to pass budgets and introduce legislation, noting that over 300 legislative acts have been introduced and passed in the last 18 months; and
Progress – Australia has made great strides in health (Australia’s have a longer life expectancy, and now supports approx 2300 centenarians) and education (population is more highly educated with women taking an increasing role in leadership positions in business).
On conclusion of his speech, the Minister took questions from the floor.