Thank you Les.
And I agree it's great to see so many finance sector people here this evening.
But let me start with an old Chinese saying.
If you wish to plan for a year, cultivate rice.
If you wish to plan for a decade, cultivate trees
If you wish to plan for a century, cultivate people.
Cultivating top quality, productive people to work in the financial services industry is key to Federal Government's finance centre initiative. As you are all aware, and I am continually told in New York, London and all over the world the availability of well qualified, highly skilled and flexible staff is one of the key determinants of success.
So finding innovative and effective ways to produce the sort of people we need is a critical part of our strategy - as is keeping up a meaningful dialogue with the users of the product the finance industry.
The Axiss Scholar Programme is an innovative programme born out industry consultation. I know that everyone here is involved and well acquainted with it.
I like the programme because it aims to build very real connections between the finance sector and the educators. It gives the best final year students a chance for a substantial amount of real and valuable work experience in leading financial institutions and the sponsors a chance to work with some talented potential employees.
The progamme is starting out small in the first year around 45-50 students but I believe it will be so successful that it will only be a matter of time before Australia can claim to be the only country producing - year after year an unique elite corps of top finance graduates well-prepared to work in the industry.
I think Axiss has visions of the numbers growing to about 200 per year.
We may have had a great idea but we couldn't have got it off the ground without the support of sponsors and the help and cooperation of the Finance and Banking Faculties of 4 of our leading universities University of New South Wales, Monash, Bond, and Flinders.
Our 40 sponsors from the public and private sectors are key to the success of the Axiss Scholars. Without your support we wouldn't be here tonight to launch the Programme.
There are too many to name in this short speech but I am very well aware of who is involved and would like to salute you and sincerely thank you for your vision in being the initial supporters of this new programme. However, keep an eye on the major papers tomorrow!!
We also have a number of other education and training initiatives in the place and in the pipeline. Stanford university's joint venture with Melbourne Business School and AGSM, AFSTA [the Australia Financial Services Training Alliance] with its E2B [that's education to business] portal and a number of other initiatives probably some of which you are involved with.
But now I'd like to thank you all for coming this evening and officially "launch" the Axiss Scholar Programme.