26 Oct

CEO Report - 26 October

During the last two months the Chamber has undertaken a huge volume of work, running 22 events in Australia and our Annual Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst in London. In addition to these events, the Chamber is actively pursuing your interests in issues including the recent changes to the 457 Visa programme and of course Brexit and a potential future free trade agreement.

Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst, London, September 2017

Last month the Chamber hosted it’s third Australian British Infrastructure Investment Catalyst event in London with many luminaries from both ends of the sector participating in a lively and informative discussion.

We have been delighted with the feedback we have received from delegates, with many sharing their view that the programme and delegates were among the best arranged at a conference. A full report will be made available in the coming weeks.

We were joined by an extraordinary line up of speakers from both countries, with speakers including Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission in the UK; Phil Davies, CEO Of Infrastructure Australia; Judi Zeilke, Deputy Secretary of the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development; Sir Peter Hendy, Chair Network Rail; Sir Terry Morgan, Chair of Crossrail; and Professor Dieter Helm from Oxford University. A wide range of topics from planning; design; development; infrastructure as an enabler of growth and prosperity; financing models and asset management; electric and autonomous vehicles; energy and housing, to name a few, were covered in some detail with some of the best exponents in their fields in the world.

Our sincere thanks to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Lendlease and Mott MacDonald as Major Sponsors of this programme and to the Department of International Trade, BAI Communications and Bechtel as Supporting Partners.

We look forward to next year’s event in Australia in the week of the 8th of October and recommend you diarise these dates.

Brexit and a Future Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

During early September the Australia-UK Trade Working Group, set up a year ago, met. The group comprises of senior officials from Australia and the UK. It is working on improving the current and potential future trade and investment relationships, as well as ensuring that the current arrangements between Australia and the European Union will endure post-Brexit. Notably an example of this is the wine treaty Australia enjoys with the UK which enables our producers to represent 20% of the UK market.

Briefings provided from both Australian and UK sources have indicated that there is a strong will and agreement that this is an important issue for both countries and has already led to the identification of a number of areas of mutual interest.

While I was in London for ABIIC, I took the opportunity to meet with senior figures from the Australian High Commission, Austrade, the Department for International Trade, Department for Transport, the City of London, Confederation of British Industries and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office among others.

It still remains the case that the UK cannot proceed with negotiations with any other country on Free Trade until they have formally left the EU.

It is interesting to note the recent comments on the proposed “transition period” which would commence from 29 March 2019 for a two or three year period. The UK Government has suggested that part of the negotiation of this period could include the option to negotiate free trade agreements that would only come into effect (if concluded) on the day that the UK is no longer in transition.

457 Visa Reform

Following the changes announced earlier in the year and further changes in July, the Chamber took advantage of the opportunity to make a submission on behalf of our members in the review process. The submission can be found here. We also ran a seminar in Melbourne, hosted by PwC, reviewing the implications of these changes on business.

Further changes, particularly to the list of occupations will continue to be made, with the next review to be brought forward in December. We welcome any feedback on this subject at the following address: policy@britishchamber.com

Event Programme

The Chamber’s programme of domestic events continues to rattle along at great speed. The last two months have included events covering a wide range of industry sectors and themes, including Brexit, technology; finance and economics; cyber security; science and innovation; advanced manufacturing and politics. This is not to mention the Meet the Member; gin tasting; and trivia nights.

We are all looking forward to the events through November including of course the beginning of the Ashes series.

Thank you for your support of the Chamber. I hope to see you at one of the events between now and the end of the year.

 

David McCredie

Chief Executive Officer

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