Speech to the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce


I would like to begin today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which this event is taking place, the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. 

I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the audience.

And I would remind you all that Australia will soon face a very important choice on whether to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution. 

I of course urge all of you who are eligible to vote yes. To be on the right side of history. 

Our nation will be lifted up when Australia votes yes for recognition, listening and a better future for the people who have called our continent home for 65,000 years. 

Please take the message from this place far and wide, tell your friends, family and workmates how this will be a positive step forward for Australia. 

Let’s get this done together. 

Thank you to the Chamber’s Western Australian chair Steve Scudemore and Chamber Chief Executive Ticky Fullerton for inviting me to speak. I know this event has been on and off a few times due to circumstances outside my control, so I thank you for your patience in making this happen. It was really one I did not want to miss. 

Especially as, despite being born in Calista WA, I was once British myself.

I also acknowledge Consul-General of the United Kingdom for Western Australia Maria Rennie. 

Of course as you would expect. I am prepared to make a few  jokes about the Ashes and then there is the World Cup Football.  But instead, I just want to say how vastly entertaining our endless cricketing rivalry is. Always in good spirit and now extends to women’s cricket as well. 

And  the World Cup hosted in Australia and New Zealand has been wonderful. It has shown more Australians – those now converts to what we call soccer – how it truly is the World Game, and for good reason. 

Congratulations to Lionesses and the Matildas for doing so well. Commiserations to England on the result last Sunday. It was a superb final match, and the Lionesses, La Roja, Les Blues, the Matildas and all the women’s teams from all around the world have moved mountains for the progress of women’s sport.

The deep and enduring connections between Australia and the United Kingdom of course extend well beyond sport. 

Most Western Australians can proudly trace ancestry of some kind to the United Kingdom. 

I can. 

My grandfather was a Royal Marine and my father, a sailor in the RN, emigrated to Perth in 1956. Like many of his countrymen, he found work at British Petroleum’s new Kwinana oil refinery. 

BP’s investment in Kwinana in 1953 (BP was known as the Anglo-Iranian Oil company at the time) opened Perth’s southern suburbs, ensured a new shipping channel was created, and laid the foundations for the vast industrial zone that underpins much of WA’s economy to this day. 

Kwinana, as you might know, sits in my electorate of Brand and has the second highest number of people of any electorate claiming English ancestry. 

This also gives you a hint why I need to choose my words carefully on recent sporting events!

Our shared histories, our common law, our Commonwealth and belief in a rules based-based global order make us natural partners economically and on defence and security matters. 

This is underscored by the AUKUS agreement, confirmed between President Joe Biden, Prime Minster Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego in March.  

I am very pleased, by the way, that the Royal Navy submarines that will rotate through Western Australia alongside United States Navy boats as part of AUKUS will be based in my electorate, at HMAS Stirling in Rockingham. For many years now, sailors and submariners of the Royal Navy, have transferred to the service of the Royal Australian Navy, and continue to live and work in and around Rockingham. This tradition is welcome, and will be important as we build AUKUS capabilities in Western Australia.

AUKUS will be just as transformative for my hometown as BP’s investment was in the 1950s. 

The United Kingdom is one of Australia’s major trading partners, with two-way goods trade worth $10 billion in 2022. The United Kingdom is Australia’s second largest services trading partner.

Our trade partnership has been strengthened by the game changing Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) which removes tariffs on over 99 per cent of Australian goods exported to the UK. 

As it has been since European settlement, the United Kingdom remains a leading investor in Australia and in Australian resources. 

The largest players in Australia’s resources sector are either listed in the United Kingdom, or are dual listed in the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Rio Tinto, BHP, Anglo American and Glencore all generate wealth for shareholders in the UK and around the world from Australian operations in iron ore, nickel, coal and other resources. 

But this long running partnership between our two nations is no longer simply about economic returns. 

It is about something far greater. 

The path to net zero runs through the Australian resources sector.

Reaching net zero will require more use of our geological resources, not less, to provide materials needed for renewable technologies.

There will be more mining, not less, as the world decarbonises. 

Australia and the United Kingdom are cooperating closely on the great challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

I was encouraged by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent renewed commitment to carbon capture projects in the North Sea as part of the United Kingdom’s efforts to reach net zero. 

As the British Prime Minister and the International Energy Agency have said, CCS and CCUS are key mechanisms in fighting climate change. And I think we need to do more to educate the public about its importance. 

And the United States, through the Inflation Reduction Act, has also extended its commitment to CCS. 

Australia will also pursue this as one of the many tools to address decarbonisation through CCS acreage releases.

Our critical minerals industry will also be at the forefront in fighting climate change. 

Critical minerals and rare earths will be of vital importance in reducing emissions and the clean energy transition 

To this end, I released the Government’s Critical Minerals Strategy on 20 June this year. 

The Strategy sets out a plan to establish Australia as a global supplier of raw and processed critical minerals by 2030.

We will not just export the minerals we mine, we plan to develop industries onshore that can add value to them through chemical processing.

Australia has vast reserves of critical minerals. 

Australia is the world’s largest producer of lithium, the third largest producer of cobalt and fourth largest producer of rare earths. 

We also produce significant amounts of aluminium, nickel, and copper. 

All of these minerals are needed to make electric vehicles, batteries and solar panels. 

Australia has well-established supply chains and trade links for resources and energy exports, and a reputation as an attractive and stable destination for investment.

With the right settings and support for critical minerals, great things can be achieved. 

New industries and projects rivalling the development of our iron ore industry in the 1960s and the LNG industry more recently are possible.

But we cannot achieve our critical minerals objectives alone. 

A focus of our Critical Minerals Strategy will be to work with our international partners to build diverse, resilient, and sustainable global supply chains.

We need to work with other countries, such as the UK, to facilitate investment, collaborate on research and development, and shape emerging market rules and norms.

Even before the strategy was released I signed a joint critical minerals statement of intent on 4 April with the United Kingdom’s Minister for the Indo Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan in Perth, during Minister Trevelyan’s visit to Australia.

Minister Trevelyan’s electorate is in Teesside, which has traditionally been a heavy manufacturing area that is now transitioning and becoming a major player in battery manufacturing. 

We agreed to increase investment links for critical minerals projects, support sovereign downstream processing and manufacturing capabilities and create skilled jobs.

We also agreed to cooperate on research and development and to encourage an exchange of skills and expertise between Australian and UK firms.

I understand Minister Trevelyan will be returning to Australia soon and I hope to continue our work together. 

British investment in Australian critical minerals is growing, albeit from a small base. 

Recent examples have included company Alkemy Capital’s investment to build a lithium sulphate refinery in Port Hedland. 

Alkemy Capital will work with global metals trader, Traxys, to source feedstock for the Port Hedland refinery from Australian spodumene miners. 

This lithium sulphate will be shipped to the UK and used to produce lithium hydroxide, which will in turn support European battery manufacturing. 

Sweeping changes in Britain’s automotive industry in particular are likely to spur new partnerships between Australia and the UK. 

UK policy to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 will inevitably mean auto plants will require significant resources of Rare Earth Elements, and battery minerals.

By working together, Australia and the UK can reap great benefits and make big contributions to lowering emissions and to achieving our net zero commitments.

I look forward to welcoming more UK investment targeted at critical mineral projects at all levels in Australia.

We will work to create investment certainty and support for overseas businesses.

The resources sector is key to reducing global emissions. 

There is no net zero without the resources sector. 

Australian resource projects are at the leading edge globally in deploying renewables, electrification and carbon capture and storage. 

I look forward to increasing investment in critical minerals and in the Australian resources sector more broadly from the United Kingdom as we forge new partnerships to reduce emissions and grow our economies. 

Australia and Britain may have differences from time to time, but scratch the surface and our bonds remain strong.

The ties that bind will hold us together into the future. Football and cricket aside. 

And good investment opportunities will continue to be embraced. 

Long may our friendship continue.

Thank you