The United States would like to see Australia become the innovation hub of the southern hemisphere, US Vice President Joe Biden has told a business roundtable in Sydney. Mr Biden attended the US-Australia Business Roundtable discussion at the Opera House as part of a three-day visit to Australia.
“We want to see Australia continue to grow and to be a regional hub and a regional leader,” he told business leaders.
He said it was in the “naked self interest” of the US that Australia succeeded.
“It is overwhelmingly in our interests for you to become the innovation hub of the Southern Hemisphere and it’s overwhelmingly in our interests for you to continue to grow in ways that are totally within your wheelhouse, with a little bit of help and a little bit of luck.”
He said the United States was a Pacific power and would remain so.
Mr Biden said he had spent a lot of time with China’s President Xi whom he said “acknowledges that the growth and progress in China has been a direct relationship of the stability encouraged by US presidents”.
He spent his first day of official duties in Australia on Sunday at the opening of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre before he met a group of World War II veterans.
This morning he toured a Boeing factory in Melbourne earlier today to inspects its 787 Dreamliner project.
Highly skilled workforce required to succeed: Biden
Mr Biden told the roundtable, which was attended by chief executives, business leaders and NSW Premier Mike Baird, he was interested in how Australia viewed the bi-lateral relationship with the US and the emergence of the region in the 21st century.
“It’s clear what we have to do in my view,” he said.
“You have to have the best educated workforce in the world, one which is highly-skilled and maybe more importantly, flexible.
“That’s just a fact because if you don’t you’re going to be left behind.
“Countries also need much more modern infrastructure than we have.”
Mr Biden likened Australia to America, saying it was “built based on immigration”.
“We got to cherry pick the best of every single culture in the world,” he said.
“Ride through Silicon Valley folks, not everybody looks like me and thank God for them. It’s a polygon of the best minds in the world.”
Nations must embrace ‘risk of failure’
He also cited the words of Mr Turnbull whom he said had talked about “the need to risk failure”.
“You’ve got to be willing to risk failure, that’s part of the spirit of all of you guys,” he told the business gathering.
My dad used to have an expression when I’d be down, and he’d say: ‘Joey, where the hell does it say the world owes you a living?’,” he said.
“My wife and daughter get killed: ‘What makes you think it’s only you?’. I lose my son: ‘Joey, get up, just get up’. That’s Australia as I see it.”
Mr Biden said Australians were always welcome in America.
“I wish you liked us as much as we like you,” he said, prompting laughter.
Mr Biden is also due to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Shorten for formal talks while he is in Sydney.
He flies out of Australia on Wednesday.