Sydney China Business Forum

(9.05am, Monday 17 November 2014, The Ballroom, Four Seasons Hotel)

Thank you, Greg [Whitwell, Dean, SU Business School], and good morning, everyone.

And to everyone, welcome to the 2014 Sydney China Business Forum.

Now in its fourth year, the forum has become one of the leading events to focus on business between Australia and China and I'm delighted to see so many of you here today for this auspicious day for Australian/Chinese relations.

This year, the focus is on Australia-China Partnerships in Financial Services, looking at issues crucial to the development of the financial services sector in our two countries.

As Australia's financial capital, Sydney is delighted to host this event, and to welcome delegates who've travelled from around Australia or overseas to be with us today.

The program has been developed with the help of both Chinese and Australian government agencies, industry experts and academics. I'd like to thank in advance all the speakers and panellists who'll share their insights into issues within the financial services sector, and I encourage you all to make the most of this fantastic opportunity to talk with each other during today's program.

As Australia's global city, Sydney is a major financial and business services centre for the Asia-Pacific and is headquarters for 40 per cent of the top 500 Australian companies. Over one-fifth of all Australian employment in financial and insurances services is found in the City of Sydney.

Most global banks and financial institutions operating in Australia have headquarters or offices in central Sydney, and China's top five commercial banks are all located here.

In 2018, Sydney will again host Sibos, the world's largest and most influential financial conference, cementing the city's position as a global professional hub.

The City is investing in a range of developments to ensure a stable, prosperous and sustainable global future for Sydney.

We have a 10-year infrastructure program worth almost $2 billion, including the transformation of our main street with a light-rail and pedestrian boulevard; $440 million for a new town centre at Green Square, close to the international airport; and investing in sustainability to reduce greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent by 2030.

Our on-going engagement in Asia, particularly with China, is a key to maintaining our global standing. This encompasses more than our economic ties. It also extends to civic, social, educational, environmental and cultural links - many of them expressed in our annual Chinese New Year celebrations, now the largest outside Asia.

The ties between Sydney and China are long-standing. Our Chinese population dates back to the 1860s and it's now estimated that over 14 per cent of our City residents have Chinese ancestry.

Last year, about 60 per cent of all in-bound Chinese tourists visited the City and we remain the major destination for the 110,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australian universities. In fact, the international student community contributed over $1.6 billion to the City's economy in 2010 and generates demand for 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Our Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision for a City that is "green, global and connected" was strengthened during the recent business and cultural mission to China. In my discussions with the Mayors of five major cities, we exchanged information on initiatives to deal with climate change; in Shezhen, a leading fashion hub, we met industry representatives who are keen to host a Shenzhen Fashion Week in Sydney; and in our Sister-City of Guangzhou, Mayor Chen and I signed an MoU to strengthen ties and work more closely on education, trade, culture, business and sustainability.

In May 2016, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of that Sister-City relationship - an important opportunity at the local, state and federal levels to strengthen and extend one of our most important bilateral relationships in the region.

The City has a significant role to play in building and furthering the Australia-China relationship, based on existing ties, on mutual exchanges, on reciprocity and respect.

We look forward to working together to ensure the future growth of links between our two countries for the mutual benefit of our communities.