SYDNEY BUSINESS ACTIVITIES
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: Will the Treasurer inform the House how Sydney is rated around the world as a city in which to do business?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The honourable member’s question is both pertinent and timely. Just last week the United States of America business magazine Fortune declared that Sydney is the second most improved city in Asia in which to do business. Further, the author of the article, Tony Paul, said on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio that had the survey been done today, Sydney would be number one.
The Hon. Patricia Forsythe: Who came first?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: That is rather interesting. It is a city that I might say has momentarily hit the canvas.
The Hon. Patricia Forsythe: A city south of the border?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN:. No, what a silly interjection. Melbourne was way below New South Wales. In drawing up the 1997 list of most improved cities, the magazine recorded those cities that had done the best job of capitalising on opportunities presented by their thriving economies. The magazine examined the education of the work force, office rental rates and accessibility, the cost of labour, business indicators, the quality of life, the quality of schools, and recreation and cultural opportunities. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, topped the list as the most improved performer. However, as I said, Mr Paul said that had the survey been done today Sydney would clearly be number one. The Hon. Patricia Forsythe asked me about Melbourne. Melbourne came in fifth, well behind Sydney on the list of the cities that have done the best job of capitalising on opportunities presented by a thriving economy. Melbourne is indeed a fabulous city and from time to time I have been known to spend a few days holiday in Melbourne. I am pleased that Melbourne attained a creditable fifth on the list, but New South Wales finished well ahead at number two.
In reaching its conclusion about how Sydney ranked, Fortune magazine was impressed that a company like Cathay Pacific now processes all its global data from Sydney and that American Express now runs its East Asia credit card operations in Sydney. The author of the article said, "When American Express looked at Sydney, they found that they could get access very quickly to staff who spoke 27 different languages. They could not get that same variety of linguistic ability even in Singapore." That is why Sydney is aiming, by 2005, to overtake Singapore as the preferred Asia Pacific headquarters location for multinational companies. We have set ourselves a pretty tall task, but I am confident, given our experience in the past couple of years, that Sydney will overtake Singapore by 2005 as a preferred location for Asia Pacific headquarters.
Whilst Hong Kong at present is still way out in front of both New South Wales and Singapore, I would not be surprised if early next century New South Wales displaces Hong Kong as well. Since April 1995 New South Wales has attracted regional headquarters that have injected $2.1 billion of investment into the economy and created 5,600 jobs. As I often point out, these are really the little acorns from which great oaks will grow over the coming decades. That $2.1 billion in investment and 5,600 jobs constitute really the tip of the iceberg, an example of the potential that these regional headquarters provide to the New South Wales and Australian economies. It is no wonder that in almost 70 per cent of cases Sydney is the preferred location for the Asia Pacific regional headquarters of multinational companies.