Business groups want the federal government to do all it can to encourage Chinese investment in Australia to help build much needed infrastructure.
The Australia China Business Council met with a number of ministers in Canberra on Monday, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will lead a trade delegation to China in mid-April.
The council’s national president Duncan Calder said Australia must do all it can to deliver a level playing field for Chinese investment.
His call follows recent University of Sydney/KPMG research which found in 2013 Australia was overtaken by the United States as the preferred destination for China’s direct investment.
“Anything we can do to encourage Chinese investment … can only be positive for the Australian economy,” Mr Calder told reporters.
Mr Calder said he was encouraged by what he heard at the meetings, which centred around cutting regulations and making it simpler and easier for business to succeed.
“What we want is just to make sure that the environment in which trade occurs is one where there is no `big government,” Mr Calder said.
Over 135 council members from around Australia attended the networking day at Parliament House.
It included sessions with Mr Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Trade Minister Andrew Robb, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Small Business Minister Bruce Billson.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Palmer United Party Leader Clive Palmer also took part.
Freight operator Aurizon’s managing director Lance Hockridge said all ministers spoke of the importance of the relationship with China and how that translates into real and tangible benefits for Australians.
“The prime minister and the other ministers going to China in two or three weeks is a tremendous representation of the commitment and change that we are seeking,” Mr Hockridge told reporters.
He said the relationship with China offers opportunities that simply cannot be taken for granted.