Thank you ladies and gentlemen for being here on this gorgeous Paris evening, here in the Australian Embassy, to make me welcome and to talk about Australia and the investment and the business opportunities that there are in our country right now.

It is a real thrill for me to be here – my first trip to France as Prime Minister and indeed my first ever official visit to France. I am here to encourage you to think of Australia as an even better place to do business, as an even better place to invest today than it might have been just a short while ago.

When I say that Australia is open for business I want it to be open for business from all over the world particularly from France given the strong record that so many French companies have investing and doing business in Australia.

Thales is one of our biggest defence contractors. Accor is perhaps our biggest hotel chain. Veolia is providing the drinking water for some 25 per cent of the people of Sydney. There is great work which your railway companies are doing in Australia – but it is a two way street. I have just come from an event where I met an Australian business man who is supplying software to the French railways so this is a partnership – it is not just a one way street. I think it can be a better and stronger partnership in the future than it has been in the recent past.

All of us, as you know, are looking forward to the G20 in Brisbane in November. We have been working closely together to try to ensure that economic growth is stronger right around the world.

If we want stronger economic growth we have got to get taxes down, we have got to get regulation down and we have got to work as closely as we can with the business that are at the heart of a stronger economy and a more prosperous society.

The Government, the new Government in Australia is abolishing the carbon tax, we are abolishing the mining tax, we are reducing company tax, we are establishing a one-stop shop for environmental approvals and since the change of government in September some $500 billion worth of new projects have received environmental approval. So, I want to ensure all of you that if you are looking to invest in Australia you will find a sympathetic government, a government that is looking to say yes – not no - and which want to constantly improve the environment in which you operate.

We have just brought down a Budget. It is a tough Budget - as it needed to be. It is a Budget which is reforming our economy by deregulating higher education, by introducing more price signals into the health systems, by significantly reforming elements of our welfare system because we understand its today’s reforms that build tomorrow’s prosperity. We also understand that it’s better to have a tough Budget as your first Budget rather than as your last Budget.

I am confident that we have the team, we have the commitment, we have the insights to build a stronger economy for a safe and secure Australia in the months and years ahead.

Of course, my friends, I am here in France, not just to promote Australia as an economic partner but to commemorate the marvellous history that the people of France and the people of Australia have together. Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings which led to the liberation of Europe and the establishment of a freer, fairer and more prosperous order across the world.

France has been a pillar of that order which has brought so much peace, freedom and security to the world in the years since the Second World War.

As well as visiting the beaches of Normandy I will also be visiting some of the battlefields of northern France. No spot on earth has been so drenched with Australian blood than the fields of northern France. I represent the 46,000 Australians who died in the defence of France between 1916 and 1918.

We have stood together in bad times and in good times. We share the values that have made western civilisation perhaps the finest secular thing that this world has seen and which has brought so much justice and freedom, which has enabled so many people to realise their dreams in a way that our forebears could scarcely even have begun to imagine.

It is terrific to be here in Paris tonight with people who are friends of Australia, with French people who are friends of Australian, with Australians who are friends of France.

Thank you so much for making me so welcome.



Copyright 2007