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European Australian Business : 2008
24 As the new Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, in the Australian Gov- ernment, I welcome this opportunity to introduce myself to the readers of European Australian Business. This is an exciting time for Australia as a nation. Our Government has laid out a bold and innovative strategy for ensuring that all aspects of our economy are sustainable, efficient and productive. A lynch pin of this strategy is a new focus on infrastructure – including transport, energy, communications and water. A new statutory advisory body, Infrastructure Australia, has been established to develop a blueprint for the nation’s future infrastructure needs. In partnership with states, territories, local government and the private sector, Infrastructure Austra- lia, will work towards ensuring that those needs are met. Infrastructure Australia represents a dramatic shift in national economic policy, bringing national leadership to infrastructure development for the first time since the Federation of the Australian states and territories in 1901. Investment in infrastructure can boost the productive capacity of the nation and in doing so boost the economy and our living standards. As readers of this publication, you are aware that European Union nations together remain Australia’s largest trading partner. Australia’s relations with Europe date back to this conti- nent’s discovery by European explorers in the 16th century and the fabric of contemporary Australian life are rich in European influences. But the relationship is not just about history. It’s also about the development of open and outward-looking market economies as a basis for sustained economic growth and prosperity. These shared values and open econo- mies are creating opportunities to build even stronger partnerships between Australia and Europe, not least in the fields of trade and investment. Dealing with Distance Efficient transport systems supported by appropriate infrastructure are the life blood that keeps the supply chain functioning. In Australia this means meeting the challenges posed by vast distances. To give you an idea of the distances involved, it is interesting to note that mainland Australia with an area of 7.69 million square kilometres is the Earth’s largest island. The east-west road journey from Sydney to Perth is a distance of 3,972 kms – around twice the distance from Bucharest to Paris. North-south, Brisbane to Sydney is 1,246 kms, around the same distance as the journey from Berlin to Rome. Australia is overcoming the challenges of dealing with distance through inno- vative planning, continuous upgrading of transport policies, and a wide range of intelligent transport technologies to streamline logistics, not only in Australia but also in many countries around the world. Domestic road and rail networks are extensive and efficient, and Australia is connected regionally and globally by an extensive air and sea network, backed by world- class freight and logistics services.