Since the 1860s, Queensland has had an Agent-General to facilitate trade between our state and the United Kingdom and Europe. In July this year, our first female Agent-General Linda Apelt, was appointed. Linda, who has just got her feet under the desk and an Oyster pass in her purse, shared some thoughts with us — including the importance of introducing Queensland’s young entrepreneurs to the old world.
If you met someone at a dinner party — how would describe your job?
I describe my job as the resident representative of the Queensland Government for the UK and Europe. In doing so I seek out and develop strategic trade and investment opportunities for Queensland business. In addition, my role maintains a prominent role for Queensland as part of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Games is obviously a very high priority at the moment.
What have you learnt since taking up this role?
I’ve discovered there’s a huge interest from UK and European business, large and small, to develop trade and business investment relations with Queensland. The UK is the second largest source of total foreign investment in Australia. There’s also strong historical ties between the UK and Australia which are important partnerships that support international relations.
What kinds of Queensland businesses are you excited to introduce to the UK and Europe?
In addition to continuing to promote commercial opportunities for trade and investment in Queensland, as Queensland’s Agent-General, I would really like to strengthen the reputation of Queensland as a premier destination for investment in the screen industry — old and new digital mediums — on your phone or on Netflix. While Screen Queensland already has a strong reputation for attracting investment in screen from other regions, I can see there’s more potential to be tapped from the UK and European markets.
What opportunities do you see for Queensland business right now in the UK and Europe?
I’m particularly keen to introduce young entrepreneurs across the creative arts and commercial sectors to business development opportunities in the UK and Europe. It’s important to keep an eye on new opportunities which will inevitably arise from Britain seeking new free trade agreements with trading partners post being part of the Single Market and Customs Union.
As a Far North Queenslander do you know your cattle prices? Are you up on your sugar exports? Or are you learning all these industries all over again in your new role?
While it is some time since I lived in rural Queensland as a child, I am having to re-acquaint myself with the basic facts such as the price of beef, sugar and avocados. Fortunately there is a plethora of economic data now available online which is part of my daily briefing.
You grew up in Ravenshoe, Far North Queensland and won a scholarship to Brisbane. I imagine you would have caught the train between Roma Street and Far North Queensland. Can it be compared to the flight to London, another long journey?
The plane flight from Brisbane to London is a long flight, almost as long as the train trip I took when I left Ravenshoe in Far North Queensland at age 17, to study at university in Brisbane. At age 17, I had no idea that train trip through coastal Queensland was the start of a much larger adventure to another part of the world.
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