30 Jun

CEO Report

Since last month much has happened in the UK.

UK Election

On the 8th of May the UK went to a General Election, where Prime Minister Theresa May led the Conservatives to the brink of success. Given the sizeable lead in the polls and the predicted 50+ seat majority most pundits (including me) thought that she had, this was clearly a very different result to what had been expected.

On the other side, Jeremy Corbyn led a very successful campaign to increase Labour Party votes. As expected by many, UKIP suffered severely and have lost any significance since the Brexit vote last year.

Unsurprisingly the Liberal Democrats also regained some seats, although their former leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg lost his seat.

It wasn't a good election for leaders and former party leaders, with the former Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond also losing his seat.

Brexit Begins

On Monday the 19th of June, David Davis and Michael Barnier initiated the negotiations for Brexit. While these are only the beginnings of the discussions and there will be many rounds, the format of the negotiations and the structure were agreed. The format will follow the EU model where the separation must be delivered first.

The two sides seem to have begun the talks amicably, though at this stage there is still a lot to be considered and the challenge remains as large as it did a month ago.

During the last month we have been delighted to also host events with The Hon Steven Ciobo MP (see under events below) as well as Remo Moretta, Assistant Secretary for Europe and lead on the Brexit piece for DFAT.

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

457 Visa Reform

We are seeking responses from businesses on the new 457 Visa Programme. We have partnered with the Export Council of Australia to support their survey, and we encourage you to participate in that survey. A link to which can be found in this month’s newsletter and on the news section of the britishchamber.com website.

This is needed urgently to 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

The Joint Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Australia’s trade and investment relationship with the UK will hold hearings next week in Adelaide on Monday 3rd July; Melbourne on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th of July; and Sydney on Thursday 6th of July 2017. Should you wish to participate in these hearings, or in future hearings on this subject, please contact the Chamber’s Sydney office on (02) 9247 6271 or at policy@britishchamber.com.

Modern Slavery

Organisations should also be aware of the new legislation regarding Modern Slavery reporting for corporations being introduced to the Australian Parliament. Organisations who have large supply chains will be required to ensure that they pass these new reforms. We have shared the view that we believe that they should be in line with the existing legislation from the United Kingdom to ensure harmonisation of reporting across the two jurisdictions.

Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst

Preparations for the Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst (ABIIC) are continuing apace. In the last month, I have had the opportunity to talk further with Sir Terry Morgan CBE, Chairman of Crossrail; Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner of Transport for London, as well as with Tony Danaher, CEO of the Capital Investment Organisation at DIT on his visit to Australia.

We continue to build an enviable list of leading figures joining as participants and speakers that will provide invaluable knowledge to our program. If you're interested in joining the program please ensure abcc@brtishchamber.com soon, places are filling fast. 

Event Programme

Our event programme is progressing well, with events in all major capitals in the last month.

On infrastructure, Philip Davies, the CEO of Infrastructure Australia, spoke for us in Perth. It was well attended by our WA Members, and sponsored by Arup. He then spoke for us at an event in Brisbane where he was joined by Building Queensland CEO, Damian Gould. We were delighted to again be supported by Arup and hosted by Ashurst.

Ashurst also hosted a Sydney event at which Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, addressed the audience on the Future Free Trade Agreements agenda, with arrangements in play with Peru, Hong Kong and the EU. He also discussed the Trade Working Group established last September, the Australia UK relationship and the opportunity in a post-Brexit environment to establish a FTA with the UK.

In addition to the previously mentioned round table with Remo Moretta, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we held an extremely interesting Cyber Security event in Canberra hosted at the War Memorial, sponsored by BAE Systems.

A successful Whisky Tasting, sponsored by FIIG, was held in Melbourne. It would be remiss of me not to mention the rugby reception event held in Sydney in conjunction with Scottish Development International, the Scottish Rugby Union, the Australian Rugby Foundation, and sponsors Aberdeen Asset Management and British Telecom. Considering both Jennifer Cramond and Helen Maclean in our Sydney office are Scottish and Scottish rugby fans, it would be difficult to leave this event out, despite the results of the subsequent match.

I would like to thank the team; Helen Walford, Jennifer Cramond, Helen Maclean and also Jenny Garber for their work successfully managing such a hectic and eventful month.

Thanks for your support of the Chamber, I look forward to seeing you at one of the many events coming up in July.

David McCredie

CEO

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