Letter from the Chair

Dear Members and Friends of our Association,

The tag I used for 2013 in the last End of Year Message, was “change”. Change continued to be a defining feature for our association in 2014, the major change, of course, being that of our name to “German Australian Business Council e.V.”. Aside from this, we elected a new board, welcomed our new Patron and also introduced a refreshed strategy. What has not changed though is our continued focus on providing our members and friends with high quality events across Germany. This included an increase in events in the Berlin region.

We started off the year with an Australia Day lunch at Frankfurt, supported by corporate member Telstra, followed by an event with Telstra’s CTO, Dr. Hugh Bradlow, to which members of our association were invited. Our signature event, the Annual Ambassador’s Dinner, took place in Berlin in June and marked the welcome of H.E. David Ritchie AO, as Patron of our association. The event was supported by corporate members Austrade, Sonic Healthcare, Telstra and Scout24. The highlight event for Frankfurt in the past year would certainly have been the new edition of the Melbourne Cup Event, which was attended by approx. 150 people and took place at the Adina Apartment Hotel with support from corporate member Melbourne Business School, sponsors Tourism Victoria, Emirates, Victorian Racing Club and many other eminent businesses. The key event in the Munich region was certainly the German Australian Business and Technology Forum organized by Austrade with our association as one of the partners. Further prominent business events were a presentation by Peter Sargent from ANZ in Frankfurt, a lunch seminar with Johann Mittermayer from Woolmark, also in Frankfurt,,a networking event showcasing Sonic Healthcare’s outstanding cutting-edge medical laboratory in Berlin and the annual Oktoberfest Event in Munich sponsored by long-time corporate member mic AG, who were again joined by corporate member Telstra.

A preliminary events calendar for 2015 has already been prepared by the board and will again feature our signature events Australia Day, the Ambassador’s Dinner and the Melbourne Cup Event, together with many others showcasing various industries. The Australia Day Event in Frankfurt on 26th January 2015 will also mark the re-launch of our association as the German Australian Business Council. The 2015 Ambassador’s Dinner will again be held at Frankfurt in the week commencing 8 June 2015, with the Melbourne Cup event taking place on 3rd November 2015.

On the international side, there is increasing combined effort to expand the network and leverage off each other’s business connections. We are looking at introducing a joint newsletter and a joint landing page. 2015 will also mark the first pan-European event, scheduled to take place at the European Parliament at Brussels in April. The international group is rapidly expanding with Greece, Switzerland and the Czech Republic having joined the group and a prospect for revival in Denmark and perhaps Luxemburg.

The start of a year is always an opportunity to say thank you for all the support our association has received from various sources. First and foremost, I would like to thank you as our members and friends for the support you have given us over the past year, in particular with respect to implementing the changes that the board had envisaged in order to take our association to the next level of growth.

I would like to thank my fellow board members, who have fulfilled their various roles with much enthusiasm and great dedication. While all board members deserve praise, I would like to direct a very special thank you to Catherine Stephen for enormous efforts in organizing Frankfurt events, Deputy Chair Elisabeth Opie for guiding us through the process of the strategy refresh, Roanne Yee and Penelope Richardson for taking on the enormous task of rebranding as the German Australian Business Council and overseeing the overhaul of the website, Rob Harrison for giving the newsletter a new outfit, Eberhard Goihl for tireless administrative work in the background and Claas de Boer and Simone Wienhausen for firmly grounding the presence of our association in Berlin.

I would also like to thank those who have supported us from an administrative point of view, namely Susanne Schnack, our office, and my P.A. Jacqueline Fehse, for all-round admin support regarding events and more. Susanne, who has been our office for the last 1.5 years and has done a splendid job looking after our accounts and administrating events, has decided to move on to an (almost) full-time job and will conclude her role with the German Australian Business Council in early January. We are sad to see her go and I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank her for excellent work for the German Australian Business Council and wish her well in her future role

Sabine Pittrof (Chair of the board)

Annual Sponsor

We are pleased to welcome the Commonwealth Bank’s continuing support for our activities in Germany.
They have agreed to renew their annual sponsorship agreement in 2015.

Australian German Working Group

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the formation of a joint working group during the Chancellor’s visit to Sydney in connection with the B20 Summit. Membership of the group is currently being finalized and it will be around five people on each side, with representatives from business. We understand that the group will be looking for input on the relationship between the Federal Republic and the Commonwealth of Australia and we shall be looking for ideas in the near future.

B20 Business

Turkey has now taken over the chairmanship of the G20 group of leading industrial companies and in conjunction with this the Turkish chambers of commerce organized a meeting in Istanbul recently to continue the B20 process involving business. Both Australia and Germany are members of the G20 and the GABC has been invited to submit members to the working groups. Anyone interested in this work is invited to get in touch.

Australian Economic Update, UK

Australian Economic Update Australian Business in the UK held their regular Australian economic update on 27 November 2014 at BHP Hilton’s spectacular offices overlooking London’s Victoria station with a great view down the Thames over the Houses of Parliament. Present by the Commonwealth Bank’s Chief Economist, Michael Blythe, the update touched on a number of the issues facing the Australian economy. The Australian government is rightly proud of its 23 years of continuous economic growth, which was even sustained during the global financial crisis. There is a general worry, however, that much of this growth is based in the resources sector, Michael attempted to dispel the myth that the current boom may lead to a bust as it has done in the past. Liquified natural gas is coming on tap which has required significant capital investment in the past few years, but the returns have not been generated as the gas is only now being delivered. Australia will soon be one of the world’s major exporters – and hopefully importers will continue to pay a good price. Australia has a rising population, driven mostly by immigration from around the world. One feature of the Australian economy compared to the German economy is the importance of the construction industry. Capital expenditure in the mining sector is decreasing, but remains strong in the residential sector as new houses are built. There is a risk that the residential building sector may be overheating and it appears that the Reserve Bank may even be preparing to control the supply of mortgages for domestic property. This would be a break from its previous policy position of not using such macroeconomic tools. Michael emphasized the need for more spending on infrastructure – this will require the Federal government to take initiatives and he confirmed in a question that the senate continues to block aspects of the 2014 budget, including the treasurer’s proposals to „recycle“ infrastructure assets by selling existing assets to investors and using the returns to invest in new infrastructure. Consumer expenditure is rising, but affected by job worries. Unemployment is currently around 6% and the Australian Bureau of Statistics is forecasting a small increase whilst other indicators suggest that the number may have plateaued. Education and tourism remain important factors in the economy. The number of visitors from China has risen to around 750,000 whilst the number from Japan and the UK has declined over the past ten years. Visas to attend educational establishments are still rising, driven at least partly by the rise in the Asian middle class. Dr. Robert Harrison

Letter from the Chair

Dear Members and Friends of our Association,

as many of you will know we have recently completed the registration of our association’s change of name and I am pleased to report that the German Australian Business Council e.V. is now registered.
Earlier on this year, we adopted a refreshed Strategy and Mission Statement which better reflects the two-way, bilateral nature of our organisation and our overall ambition to provide you – our members and friends – with deep and enduring business connectivity between Germany and Australia. At the same time, a proposal was put forward to amend the name of the organisation to more precisely reflect a specific focus on two-way relationships between Australia and Germany. The Special General Meeting held in August then resolved to change the name of the association from Australian Business in Europe (Germany) e.V. to German Australian Business Council e.V.
As the German Australian Business Council e.V. we will continue to appeal to and provide a resource to German businesses, with an interest or presence in Australia and Australian businesses with an interest or presence in Germany, as well as business professionals of any nationality with an interest in bilateral relations between the two economies.
At the same time, we will of course continue to be part of the international Australian Business in Europe (ABIE) network. It is interesting to note that the core economies in mainland Europe, Germany and France, increasingly are taking a leading role in the international ABIE network as many of the participating organisations start to reflect on and refresh their objectives. Although several participating entities are considering a more bilateral approach for their respective organisiations, it was recently resolved that the name “Australian Business in Europe” be kept as an international brand which each organisation can use in addition to their own brand. A refresh of the ABIE logo is currently under way.
In Germany, we are currently completing the usual tasks associated with the change in an association’s name; Over the next few weeks, this will include changes to our website and our branding.
We look forward to continued and reinvigorated association with you in the coming years

Sabine Pittrof (Chair of the board)

New logo for new name introduces new era

To distinguish the newly named German Australian Business Council from its predecessor a new logo has been designed. The design was created by design agency Creative Republic based in Frankfurt and reflects the two-way nature of the newly refurbished organization to enhance business and cultural relationships between Australia and Germany.
The colours red, blue and yellow encompass both countries and the star represents the bright future the organization aims towards.


Today the new name was recognized and Australian Business in Europe  Germany officially became the German Australian Business Council.
As organizations grow and change they often need a new look and feel that reflects these developments. Late last year the board of ABIE Germany agreed it was time the name of the group reflected the activities it undertakes. So after much discussion and voting ABIE Germany became the German Australian Business Council (GABC), a title which clearly highlights the two way nature of the organization to help German business in Australia and Australian business in Germany. GABC continues as a member of the extended European Australian Business in Europe network and feel this name change will strengthen their identity in the network as well as locally.

ABIE’s 2014 Ambassador’s Dinner in Berlin

The event will take place on Thursday, 12 June 2013, starting at 6:00 pm.
The theme of the night will be „Australia’s G20 presidency: what are the implications for business relations between Australia and Germany?”
This once-in-a-year networking event will give us an opportunity to mark the introduction of H.E. Mr David Ritchie AO, Ambassador to Germany, as our new patron.
We are further looking forward to vibrant speeches by H.E. the Ambassador and Mr. Greg Ellis, CEO of the Scout24 Group.
More information about the event and the registration please contact Susanne Schnack at office@abie-germany.de until Thursday, 29th May, the latest.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!

4th Australian German Science Circle

The fourth Australia-German Science Circle was held on a pleasant September evening in the meeting room at the Australian Embassy in Berlin. Attended by ABIE Board Members, Elisabeth Opie, Class de Boer and Rob Harrison, the event focussed on science collaboration around the world. Professor Debbie Terry, Senior Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland focussed on how important collaboration has become in the scientific world. Australia and Germany are leaders, with many of their researchers being on papers with non-local co-authors.  Growing tripartite arrangements involving Asian-based scientists were also discussed.

Professor Terry did not really dive into the commercialisation aspects of science, except to mention one interesting statistic: in Germany, the ratio of academic researchers to technologists and scientists working in industry is 2:4; in Australia the ratio is 5:2 – almost a complete reversal. This shows the potential for increase in Australian industry science-based structure while achieving high return on investment, and indeed is being encouraged by the Australian government. There is clearly a long way to go, and targeted international teaming up of scientists would certainly help meet the challenges ahead for mutual benefit – scientifically and commercially.

The evening finished off with the usual round of drinks in the Atrium.