28 Jul

AUKMin and the visits of the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of Defence

This week, Foreign Secretary The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP and his Australian counterpart The Hon Julie Bishop MP and their colleagues The Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon and Senator the Hon Marise Payne held their annual Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security talks, known as the Australian UK Ministerial Consultation (AUKMin).

Apart from these formal talks the visiting UK ministers have branched out to engage in areas of mutual interest. This included visits by the Foreign Secretary to the Opera House to see the renovations currently being undertaken by British firm Laing O’Rourke and to the Tyro Fintech Hub. There he met with two of the companies that won places on the Chamber’s British Australian Fintech Forum held in London in April.

The Foreign Secretary then spoke at a private Chamber lunch hosted by Lendlease in their stunning and award-winning offices at Barangaroo ITS. As a participant at the lunch, we were delighted to share insights and opportunities for how Australia and the UK can work together to make our relationship even stronger.

The Defence Secretary was keen to stress the UK’s support of Australia’s defence capability and talk about stronger interest from the UK in the security of the Asia Pacific. In addition he has been advocating for the British designed Type 26 frigate, which would be built here in Australia by BAE Systems, as the vessel choice for Australia’s Future Frigate programme.

It is widely held that the Type 26 is the best anti-submarine option available. The interoperability that use of the design would give between Australia and the UK would be of significant advantage. The Defence Secretary also made the case that being part of global supply chains that enable Australian suppliers to supply to the RN as well as our own RAN, would be a key opportunity for further collaboration.

Both visitors have been well received by their Australian colleagues. As Australia looks to enter a free trade agreement with the UK, the opportunity to create frictionless trade and investment is one of the crucial considerations. The discussions held on this matter, and other important topics such as visa restrictions, will continue to inform the UK on the opportunities to further develop the relationship.

It is worthwhile noting that the UK Foreign Secretary has continued his optimistic narrative that an agreement with Europe that will enable near frictionless trade is achievable in a post-Brexit environment. While the UK is “leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe”.

Indeed, perhaps his optimism is best shared with his own unique turn of phrase: “They say the UK is like some poor wriggling crustacean about to be deprived of its shell. I say- don’t come the raw prawn with me!” Boris Johnson (Lowy Lecture 2017).

Brexit Session 2

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, has held the second round of talks with the EU. In summary, there is still a long way to go. However, in positive news, now that the basic rules of engagement and outlined plans for the discussions have been settled, it is time to actually start talking. The UK have nearly 100 civil servants engaged in the process, which has been split into a number of key areas, including; citizens rights, the EU’s demand for a UK exit fee and of course the Northern Ireland border issue.

If you have an interest in understanding more on this issue, please do not hesitate to email the chamber at policy@britishchamber.com to ask any questions.

457 Visa Reform

We are still seeking responses from businesses on the new 457 Visa Programme. As this process continues to confuse and baffle users, we will continue to push the Government on behalf of our Members for clarity, consistency and compromise to ensure that businesses are not detrimentally affected by unintended consequences of the changes.

We are seeking to urgently respond to the requests from government as a belated consultation strategy. For any additional comments and feedback, please email policy@britishchamber.com.

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

I will be representing the Chamber in appearing before the Joint Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Australia’s Trade and Investment Relationship with the UK on the 7th of August.

It is not too late for organisations who wish to submit views to be shared through this process. Please contact the Chamber’s Sydney office on (02) 9247 6271 or at policy@britishchamber.com should you wish to participate in these hearings, or in future hearings on this subject.

Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst

Preparations for the Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst are in full swing and delegates who wish to attend are encouraged to make their registration known to us as soon as possible. Places are filling quickly.

More information on the delegation can be found on the website, or by contacting Andy Turnbull aturnbull@britishchamber.com

Event Programme

August continues the strong domestic programme for the Chamber with events in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Alistair MacGibbon, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, will present to a lunch in Brisbane. In Sydney, Peter Freyberg, Head of Glencore’s Global coal assets and CEO of Glencore in Australia, will speak on Energy. Energy is a theme that will be continued in Melbourne with a distinguished panel including Chole Munro from the Finkel Review, discussing our energy future here in Australia.

In addition, BCG and Director of DIT in Australia, Michael Ward, will speak to Members in Perth at a boardroom lunch. Mark Textor will continue our discussions on changing political landscapes and engagement patterns at boardroom lunches both in Sydney and Melbourne.

We will also be co-hosting an event with our Sponsors, and currency experts, OFX, in Sydney to encourage small and medium size businesses looking to export to the UK. Insights will be shared by Tim Bentley from OFX, Cynthia Whelan from the International Business Accelerator and myself.

To top off the month we are delighted to have the highly respected Dr Nicola Millard, British Telecom’s Head of Customer Insights & Futures and Innovation team, join us for events at the beginning of September and end of October. If you have never heard a futurist speak, this is an extraordinary opportunity to hear from someone who is not only at the cutting edge, but is looking from that edge to opportunities for the future. I highly recommend this event to you.

Growth and Opportunity

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Paul O’Hagan in Melbourne as General Manager Victoria and Paul Wright as Head of Commercial Partnerships in Sydney. Paul Wright will begin with us next week, and Paul O’Hagan will join us on the 14th of August. While based out of our two current offices, they will have remits across the country to develop and deepen our relationships with the over 21,000 people connected to the Chamber.

These two great additions will be focused on ensuring our Membership continues to grow and that our activities continue to reflect the needs of our Members, as we navigate the future.

David McCredie

Chief Executive Officer

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