California Senate Address
by the President of the Legislative Council, the Honourable John Ajaka MLC
Members of the Senate.
By inviting me to speak today, you honour the Parliament of New South Wales, my parliamentary colleagues and the citizens of our State.
I am joined today by the Hon Trevor Khan, Deputy President and the Hon Adam Searle, Leader of the Opposition.
The United States of America is Australia’s most important strategic, political and economic partner.
The United States is New South Wales’ 3rd largest merchandise trading partner, a relationship valued at AU$15.3 billion (2016-17).
Against this backdrop, I am delighted to say that New South Wales’ relationship with the State of California is our most cherished and best developed.
Both our States have histories shaped by a gold rush, mining and agriculture booms. Both have a successful history of welcoming migrants, from across the world.
Sadly, both our States experience the ravages of fire-
On behalf of our State, we extend our condolences to the people of California on the loss sustained by your recent and ongoing fires.
I note with pride, that over 55 of our specialist New South Wales firefighters, have joined other firefighters, from around Australia, to travel across the Pacific, to work with your own firefighters.
Just as in our time of need in New South Wales, your specialist firefighters came to assist their fellow firefighters in New South Wales.
Lest we forget that the men and women of our Armed Forces have stood together, as Allies fighting side by side, for over 100 years, with many making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of both our states.
New South Wales and California became Sister States in 1997 when your then President, the Hon. Bill Lockyer and our then President, the Hon. Max Willis, signed an historic agreement to “strengthen our mutual economic ties and improve international understanding and good will.”
Our people-to-people connections are strong, and growing.
New South Wales welcomed over 420,000 American visitors last year, more than any other Australian state.
The United States is New South Wales’ 16th largest source of international students, with 4,000 studying in New South Wales in 2016.
Many of New South Wales’ startups and entrepreneurs travel to California in search of new opportunities, and to learn from some of the world’s best business people.
There are dozens of Californian startups that have chosen to expand into New South Wales, with the determination that their businesses will grow in our booming innovation ecosystem.
Approximately 290 Californian companies operate in New South Wales including, giants such as Facebook, Apple, Chevron and Wells Fargo, providing valuable services and employment, to our citizens.
New South Wales is investing in innovation, with the Southern Hemisphere’s largest startup hub in the heart of Sydney. It is committed to engaging with the private sector, to deliver its long-term vision for better transport and infrastructure.
New South Wales is a natural partner for California – ready to share our unique experiences and build on our continued successes, and to continue to learn from each other.
In closing, I look forward to welcoming you to our State of New South Wales and our Parliament.