Remarks at Boeing Aerostructures Australia
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks. How are you? Ladies and gentlemen, before I begin, I want to make a public statement about what you've recently read about again a tragedy in the United States relating to our law enforcement officers.
I join President Obama in strongly condemning today’s targeted attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that killed three police officers and wounded three others. And it’s a despicable act, and it’s an attack on our very way of life at home. We don't have the detail yet. We don't exactly know how this occurred, what the motive might have been behind it. But like thousands of other law enforcement officers -- and where I come from, the neighborhood I grew up in, my background, I have a very, very close relationship with law enforcement. And they've been the core of my support for years. And they're the guys that -- and women that I grew up with in my neighborhood. You knew that when you got in trouble, they’d have your back. They were the same kid who when you needed help was the one that jumped in. They're the people, like they are here in Australia, that they're always the ones who are there.
And every day, every single day, tens of thousands of law enforcement peace officers wake up in Australia and the United States, and they put on their badge. And they go out and do the job knowing that anything could happen to them. And they respond, and they respond to help.
There was a 911 call involving this incident. We don't know who made the call -- whether the shooter with an assault weapon or whether or not it was someone else identifying this shooter. But every time they respond, they know they're putting themselves in danger. So they're an incredible group of men and women.
And I say to the folks back home, we owe them a great deal of gratitude and thanks for what they do, for their commitment.
And at home we cannot let others divide us now by making more or less of this than it really is. That's not why we're here. It’s not who we are. And it’s not who law enforcement is. My heart goes out -- I say to the folks back home, my heart goes out to those families. And my enduring thanks for every police officer who gets up in the morning, or goes out on that night shift and they look for one thing. They kiss their wife good-bye, or their husband, and they want to go home and tuck in their kids. They have a right to do that. They have a right to be able to be protected. And we owe them big. So I just say, God bless the fallen. And to their families, their brothers or sisters, we will get to the bottom of this. But our enduring thanks to every law enforcement officer back home.
And I say to all of you I doubt whether it’s much different right here in Australia, the kind of people who go into law enforcement. They do it because they want to help. They sure don't do it for the wages. They do it because they want to help.
Well, let me begin for the reason I’m here, Madam President. I like -- I got to get used to saying that at home I hope. (Laughter.) Just saying, that's all. (Applause.) I don't know.
But thank you for the introduction and for leading Boeing Australia.
This is an incredible facility, and it reflects the true economic partnership that exists between the United States of America and Australia.
I was going around with the boss who had a timesheet worrying about whether or not I was slowing up productivity in this -- (laughter). But what we're talking about is every manufacturing operation, every sophisticated, high-tech manufacturing operation that goes on around the world -- in the States or here -- those that work the best are the ones that empower their employees the most; have the faith in the employees most. And that's why you guys and women are so damn good here.
And last year our nations, we traded in goods and services over $50 billion. America’s three biggest imports from Australian were beef and raw materials and medical devices among many other things. And in terms of what the United States exports, our three biggest exports were everything from pork to machinery to automobiles.
The United States is Australia’s top trading partner when it comes to services --in business consulting, in financial services, and business expertise. We have nearly $200 billion in direct foreign investment in each of our countries -- over $200 billion businesses in Australia and the United States have invested in the other country, that amount of money. America’s businesses invested more in Australia than anyone else around the world has invested in Australia.And Australian businesses invest more in America than anywhere else in the world.
And these investments range from mining, to technology, to pharmaceuticals, to tourism, to aerospace manufacturing like we have right here.
Boeing, in my view, is an example of where investments in Australia are mutually beneficial to both our countries. I know where I come from in my old neighborhood back home there’s a lot of talk about trade. Is it mutually beneficial? A lot of folks who -- as I said, the neighborhood I grew up in, you either got a trade, or you ended up being a law enforcement officer, a fireman, or you became a priest. I wasn’t qualified for any one of them so I had to do something else.
But all kidding aside, there’s a lot of talk that international trade and commerce in a global economy is not beneficial. Well, so many jobs in both our countries depend on this.
Boeing has invested nearly $1 billion here in Australia,
employing ,over 3,500 high-skilled, high-paid workers. And you deserve every penny you make. This facility alone invested over $300 million to date and invested an additional $70 million over the past two years. And you're on a cutting edge -- no pun intended -- of technology and aerospace. And all these investments put high-skilled production workers alongside cutting-edge researchers, and you're under one roof.
One of the things I've learned, Madam President, I’ve traveled around the world, is that one of the reasons why an awful lot of corporations are coming home either to Australia or to the United States is because we view things a little bit differently. And by that I mean we're in a situation where there’s an outfit called AT Kearney. And they ask the 300 biggest industrialists in the world, meaning -- speaking of the largest economies in the world, where do you want to invest? And by a margin larger than any time they kept this survey over the last 19 years, they say the United States of America -- of large countries.
And the reason they do is the same reason why people want to be here in Australia. You have a system that protects intellectual property. You have a court system where if you have a dispute, you can settle it fairly. No one is going to steal your product. You have energy available to you. You are in a situation where you have serious, serious workers -- the most productive workers in the world, right here in this room. You're among the most productive workers in the world.
That's why the future belongs to those countries that engage in fair trade, those countries that engage in empowering their workforce, those countries that engage in practices that are totally consistent with the conduct of international commerce and international intercourse.
So right here, the result is 1,200 high-skilled, good-paying jobs for production workers and engineers making wing flaps for the Dreamliner flying around the world. And these are -- speaking to your elected officials who have the same goal as we do at home. How do we maintain? You are to the great pride of your country and the envy of the world, one of the great middle-class countries in the world. The notion is anybody can make it. Anybody can make it if they go out there and bust their neck, there’s an even shot you get a shot. And you're entitled to participate in the profits of any of the outfits you work with. You increase their productivity, you get to participate in that outcome.
And that's why in recent surveys 98 percent of the folks in Australia say they are middle class or they are working class, and they believe they can, in fact, make it.
And it all depends on being able to have a job. My dad who had to move to find work when we were -- when I was growing up as a kid, moved from one part of America to another part to get a job because coal mines were shutting down. He was not a coal miner, but he worked in an area where steel and coal were king. And after World War II they weren’t anymore.
And he moved to a place where it was growing in a state called Delaware and southeast Pennsylvania, if you know anything about my country. And he had a good job. Then he came back after a year and picked us up at my grandpop’s home and took us down and we had a good living -- lived a good middle-class life.
But every time my father would -- someone would talk about a job, my dad would say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. A job is about your dignity. A job is about your place in the community. A job is about who you are. A job is about being able to hold your head up, take care of your kids, make sure you're able to meet your family’s needs.
And for middle-class jobs here is not any different than the United States. It’s being able to own your own home and not have to rent it; being able to send your kid to a park where you know they're going to come home safely; being able to send him to a high school that if they do well, they can get to college. If they get to college, you figure out how the hell to get them there. You’ll be able to do it. You’ll figure out how you can do it. And if one of your elderly parents dies, you have enough to take care of them -- the one who survives -- and hope your children never have to take care of you. That's what middle class means where I come from. I think that's what it means here. But it depends on good, solid, expanding jobs like you have right here.
And these investments start virtuous cycles. We see it right here with Boeing investments benefiting Australian companies in the aerospace supply chain. Last year you invested $500 million alone in over 700 small businesses benefitting from the spinoff of what occurs here at this factory.
And so we see the benefits, as well, for American workers. Those who say trade is only a one-way street. It’s not. Boeing has over 150,000 employees back home in the United States. Boeing has invested $50 billion with U.S. suppliers, beyond what they invested here. And it supports more than 1.5 million jobs back home at thousands and thousands of American businesses.
Because you’re building the Dreamliner wing flaps here, Qantas Air finalized a deal with Boeing to purchase eight Boeing Dreamliners. That's worth nearly $2 billion. So those who say why am I visiting a factory that is an American corporation in a foreign country paying good wages to over a thousand people, I say that's the reason why. That's the reason why. We both benefit. And Dreamliners, the stuff you're building here, and the Dreamliners that are assembled back in the United States.
More than 8,000 Americans work directly on the Dreamliner, and that means good jobs in Seattle and for 8,000 Americans who worked directly for Dreamliner and hundred thousands of others up and down the aerospace chain that benefit from this. That's what I mean by a virtuous cycle. You have a good product. You invest in it. You do it well. You produce it well. It becomes the best product in the world. It generates a virtuous cycle.
And awful lot of people around this facility who run diners and movie theaters and barber shops, there’s more waitresses employed. There’s more tickets bought. There’s more automobiles bought because you all have good, decent jobs. And the jobs you have employ other people because of what you have here.
And so, folks, it means that access to Australian markets for American companies -- and there’s more of this in the offing. That's why I’m extremely pleased to be here.
This is an example how trade should work. This is how it should work. And I’ll say it again. I was recently with a lot of your elected officials. Tomorrow I’ll be with more. And you know what, I’ve been doing this job a long time, but I’ve never been more optimistic than I am today -- never more optimistic in my whole life for democracies that understand the rule of law; that invest in research and development; that actually invest in their workers.
The truth of the matter is that we're going to own the 21st century. We want everybody to do -- I want to see China do well. I want to see Europe do well. I want to see them all do well because I want to buy them -- have them buy more Dreamliners. I want them to be able to sell products that say Made in Australia, Made in America. Because we can compete with anybody. You can. We can. Anybody in the world if it’s a level playing field. Just give us an even shot. That's stamped into the DNA of most Aussies and the same it is for the United States.
And so the economic relationship between us is -- you're going to see more high tech and more high productivity and more commerce between us.
The investments in research and production facilities are going to increase. And highly skilled workers earning a fair wage are going to be able to share in the productivity of those gains. We're investing in the middle class, and that's good for Australia. And that's good for the United States of America. Because, folks, back home I’m facetiously referred to as Middle Class Joe. In Washington that means I’m not sophisticated. (Laughter.) But I know how to fight. I know what it means.
When the middle class does well, everybody does well. The wealthy do very well when we do well. The poor have a way up when we do well. And one of the reasons for the social and economic stability and political stability in Australia and the United States is because we have a solid, solid, solid middle class.
I’ll conclude by saying I’ve spent an awful lot of time traveling around the world doing foreign policy. Just since I’ve been Vice President, I’ve traveled over 1.2 million miles. And I usually get sent to meet with world leaders. I know them all -- not because I’m so good, just it’s been my job. Before this I headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so I’ve known these leaders from around the world for a long time.
And, folks, all politics is personal, including foreign policy. You got to know the other guy’s motive. You got to know what his limitations are. You got to know what his interests are in order to determine your own. And I’ve spent a lot of time with President Xi of China. I’ve spent over 24, 25 hours of private dinners with him. He’s an interesting guy. We were in Chengdu two years ago, just a month or so before he became President. He was Vice President. And he looked at me and he said, can you define for me America? And I could have said the same thing if he asked me about Australia. I said, yes, I can. I can define it in one word: Possibilities. Possibilities.
It’s stamped into our mutual DNA that anything is possible. Any damn thing is possible. Give ordinary people an opportunity, and they do extraordinary things. That's the history of the journey of both our countries. And I think that's why the future is going ally with people like us -- America and Australia -- who just really truly believe everyone is entitled to be treated with a little bit of dignity. Everyone is entitled to be given an even shot. And when you do that, we do extraordinary things.
You're an extraordinary country. I’m proud to be here. I’m proud of what you're doing.
And may God bless you all and may God protect our troops -- yours and ours, keep them out of harm’s way. Thank you so much, everyone. (Applause.)