24 April 2015
Transcript - #2015085, 2015

Opening the ASX Customer Support Centre, Sydney

TREASURER:

…Elmer, and to you Rick, and all of your team. Congratulations on what is a hugely impressive investment, here in the heart of my electorate. When the most impressive statistic you recounted was that it could power 5,000 houses, and I can think of one that's going to be connected by the end of today, given our electricity bills. So I praise you for this investment.

You know, I was kind of looking out the window at Chatswood, which has undergone such a massive transformation in recent times, and I was reflecting on the fact that my great grandmother was a formidable woman. She, in the 1930s, owned a millinery in The Strand Arcade, and she never thought that was good enough. So she went down to the stock exchange and with a pair of binoculars, traded shares, with a representative from I think it was JBWere, sitting next to her. Imagine that in the 1930s, and a woman doing that, and she became apparently as the records show, one of the most formidable traders in the pre-war period. Why do I tell you this story? Because when I had the great honour of opening the Australian Stock Exchange building back in around 2000, above the tank stream, I told that story about the fact that the rivers of enterprise have been flowing for years and they continue to flow. Now the tank stream is actually all around us.

The cables that can communicate - allow communication with London in a quarter of a second, or Singapore in half that time. The fact that through high-frequency trading we have a level of liquidity in the market that is the envy of many other markets. I also rather indulgently reflect on the fact that just over a week ago I rang the bells of the New York Stock Exchange and here I am in my own home town, in my country, about to ring the bells. Signifying that enterprise is alive and well, and we all hope to make everyone more prosperous as a result of our endeavour.

To you, Rick, and Elmer, you run a great exchange. I know over the years there's been a debate about the future of the Exchange. Whether you like it or not, and I know you do like it, you are wrapped in the Australian flag and will continue to be, but we have to be at our best. We need to be our best. The fact that you are one of the top ten exchanges in the world should never give you any great comfort unless you can get to be the best. I have seen what are alleged to be the best and I think you can compete on an equal basis. To all of you who employ so many people, the financial services industry is the second-largest industry in Australia after health. In GDP terms, larger than minerals and resources, yet we represent only a fraction of our exports and as I'm going to point out in the Budget speech in a couple of weeks' time, Australia is on the cusp of its greatest ever opportunity.

Services represent 70 per cent of our economy but only 17 per cent of our exports. We're privileged to bear witness to the greatest transformation of the most number of people in the history of humanity in our region, and because the world is now divided into three time zones, and we are in the fastest-ever growing region, and because prosperity is not the want but the demand of the 2 billion people that are going into the middle class in Asia over the next 30 years, our financial services industry is better prepared to deliver the opportunities and deliver on the expectations of that middle class, than any other financial services industry in Asia. So the question is how high do we look? How far do we reach? I have absolute confidence that the financial services industry in Australia could become a great exporter, delivering financial security, financial advice, financial services more generally, to the growing consumer class of Asia. We've got the skillset, we've certainly got the sophistication, we've got the right regulatory regime and, looking around us, we have the tools. So it is a great honour to be here.

I am very proud of the work of the Australian Stock Exchange. I'm proud of the fact that Australia is one of the great, if not the greatest, share-owning nation in the world. I want more Australian companies to list on the Exchange. I particularly want those assets that are going to be privatised in the near future, to look first at an initial public offer in Australia. That's what I prefer, to give Australians the chance to directly own the great electricity and infrastructure companies of Australia and in-turn, help to build enterprises that are going to reshape the region and the world. So if we're going to reward our people with the opportunity to invest in Australia's companies, either those that are significant now or those that may well be significant in the future, we need a transparent exchange, we need an exchange that is well regulated, but also we need to have the people running the exchange who possess in their hearts and in their minds great integrity. I have absolutely no doubt the team at the ASX has that. So congratulations on this investment. Well done, and it's my enormous pleasure to officially open the new ASX, the heart of Australia's financial market centre. Thank you very much.