Bligh highlights city's importance to Queensland
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has reaffirmed that Hong Kong was a key trade and investment destination for the Australian state, and she pledged to ensure that business between the two places continued to flourish.
Bligh, the first woman premier of Queensland, visited the city recently as part of a 10-day trade mission to China and the United States. She met government and business representatives and addressed a lunchtime audience of 100 people from the tourism, education, energy, transport and food businesses.
'I'm here in Hong Kong to endorse our commitment to the bilateral relationship between the two regions, and to acknowledge Hong Kong as an important gateway to southern China and the rest of Asia,' Bligh said. 'Queensland offers a wealth of investment opportunities for investors in Hong Kong.'
Bligh reserved special praise for Simon Lee, Queensland's longest-serving overseas representative, who will be retiring as the state's commissioner to Hong Kong and Macau next month after nearly 19 years of service.
One of Lee's main achievements was the signing of the friendship agreement between Queensland and Guangdong, which saw the opening of Queensland's trade and investment office in Guangzhou.
Lee also negotiated and signed a number of agreements with other cities including Zhanjiang and Cairns, Foshan and Townsville, and Zhongshan and the Sunshine Coast region. He was instrumental in maintaining strong ties with Hong Kong, which, in 2009-10, imported goods worth almost A$376 million (HK$3.08 billion). Bligh credited Lee for promoting Queensland in the Pearl River Delta region, which she called 'one of the world's main hubs of economic growth'.
In a new initiative, Tourism Queensland is promoting the state as a short-break destination for Hong Kong travellers. An A$80,000 joint project with Cathay Pacific and Gold Coast Tourism aims to encourage Hong Kong tourists to visit the region.
'In the year ending March 2011, 39,000 Hong Kong visitors spent 694,000 nights in Queensland,' Bligh said. 'Of these 18,000 visited the Gold Coast and 12,000 visited the tropical north. The new project is geared towards making the most of this.'
Bligh also paid tribute to the generosity of Hong Kong residents and businesses, whose donations 'made a huge difference to Queenslanders affected by the floods and cyclones that occurred earlier this year'.