Australia is once again "open for business" declared
Tony Abbott, named Prime Minister of Australia last September in a
landslide election victory, as he headed to North America on a
trade delegation last month. The message emerging is that
energy, industry and infrastructure are the big-ticket investment
items in Abbott's Australia.
Mr Abbott won his mandate on a pro-business, anti-immigration
platform, and promised to roll back previous Labor government
initiatives such as the carbon tax to reduce the red tape placed on
investment in the country.
His first Budget, delivered in May, featured an
Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme - $484m over five years
to help commercialise good ideas, create jobs and lift the
capability of small business - an Industry Skills Fund to support
the training needs of small to medium business; and a boost to wage
subsidies to employers who hire mature age job seekers. It also cut
the company tax rate by 1.5% effective 1 July 2015.
Ahead of hosting the G20 summit in November, Mr Abbott has been
wooing world leaders. His most recent trip not only featured a
Indonesia - aiming to repair relations damaged by allegations
of spying and asylum seeker policy - and
France for the D-Day commemorations, but also included a
20-strong trade delegation to
The first visit by an Australian PM to
Canada since 2006, Mr Abbott visited Ottawa and Toronto, saying
it was "an opportunity to reinvigorate the trade and
investment relationship between
Canada." Canadian pension funds are being courted to
invest in Australian roads, energy utilities, airports and
But while the Canadian visit was good for business, the focus of
the visit was on
the US, Australia's largest source of foreign investment -
US business accounts for more than $650bn in
Australia. The relationship is reciprocal, too, with the US
also the number one destination for Australian investment abroad;
more than $470bn is invested by Australians in the
US. This relationship - one of trade and of security - has
always been essential to
Australia, and will only deepen with the advent of the
Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
"Trade and investment bring jobs and prosperity and
Australia is once again 'open for business'," Mr
Abbott wrote on his blog. "The Government's
drive to cut red tape and abolish taxes that reduce our
international competitiveness, such as the carbon tax and the
mining tax, is making Australia an even more attractive environment
for investment from the
United States and
While in Houston - where more than 100 Australian companies are
based - Mr Abbott announced
Australia will establish a consulate-general in the city. Texas
is the biggest exporting state in the US, and a consulate-general
Australia to "maximise the two-way trade and investment
the US energy revolution," he said, stating an aim to make
Australia an affordable energy superpower.
With the red tape on mining and industry relaxing,
Australia is set to become the world's top exporter of
liquefied natural gas and is already the largest exporter of black
coal. Recognising the need to reduce carbon emissions, the
Australian government is looking at a $2.55bn direct action policy
and should encourage renewable energy such as wind, solar and
With the carbon tax due to be abolished within weeks and the
commercial and residential property market hot with a lot of
investor and institutional interest – buoyed by historically
low interest rates and a favourable economic and political
Australia is one to keep a close eye on.
Summarises Mr Abbott: "We are a significant, even a
substantial, middle power. We should use our weight in the world
for our own good, for the good of our friends and allies and
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The TPP could have a significant positive impact on the investment and financial services of Australia and Singapore.
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