Unless you're entrenched in Houston's oil and gas industry, you're probably unaware that for the last quarter century Houston has been a sister city to Perth, Australia. Perth, which is over 2,400 miles from Sydney, sits on Australia's west coast and has a population of 1.5 million. This week, the Lord Mayor of Perth, Lisa Scaffidi visited Houston to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the relationship at an event hosted by the Australian American Chamber of Commerce.
"The pioneering resource-driven nature of the two cities was very much the catalyst for why it was decided to proceed with a sister city relationship."
Last week, the Lord Mayor was elected president of the World Energy Cities Partnership which represents 15 cities around the world, including Houston. While the major goal of the Partnership is to bring mayors and chief executive officers together to facilitate better business, she says they also have other objectives.
"As cities that are focusing on the creation of energy, we're also trying to be individually very responsible in reducing our own individual greenhouse gas emission within our respective cities."
Past President of the AACC Neville Henry has long been involved with relations between the two energy hubs. He says it is important to continue to strengthen the relationship, because the developments of new energy technology are critical to the world.
"The issues regarding energy and how we power the planet over the next 50 years are things that concern all of us, in particularly our children."
Perth is the energy capital of Australia. And because of the shared business interests, a large number of Houstonians in the energy industry travel to Perth every year to live and to work.
"Most of the companies that are headquartered here whether they're Chevron, BHP, Shell, they all have their Australian operations in Perth because of the energy. And so, a lot of the employees will go there, a lot of Houstonians will go to Perth."
That's Doug Partington, the Regional Director for the Western Australia Trade Office in Los Angeles. He says, surprising, Texans and Western Australians have more in common than just oil and gas. They even share the same spirit of independence that we do here in Houston.
"Western Australia always talks about secession in the same way Governor Perry talked about secession from the rest of it. If Western Australia was to secede from the rest of Australia it would be one of the richest countries in the world."
And he says they share a common mentality.
"It's always been independent, it's always been you know, stand and fight for what you believe it. And you still find that in Western Australia and you still find that in Texas."
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As both economies start to recover, and the need for energy resources increases, Houston and Perth are set to play a critical role in promoting a broader, enduring relationship between the United States and Australia.
From the KUHF-NewsLab, I'm Wendy Siegle.