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Tuesday, 24 September 2002
Page: 7086

Mr PEARCE (3:03 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Would the minister inform the House how the economic environment created by this government is helping to broaden Australia's exports base and, most importantly, to create new jobs in our communities?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —I thank the honourable member for Aston for his question and for his obvious interest in the jobs growth that has taken place in Australia in the last six or so years. We have seen a million new jobs created in the Australian economy as a direct result of the sound economic management by our government in Australia. That has also significantly assisted the export sector in increasing their capacity in the international marketplace and in sustaining many new jobs within the Australian economy.

I will highlight one particular sector of importance to the Australian economy as far as exports are concerned, and it is not the commodities sector and it is not the services sector. It is the area of manufactures—an area in which Australia has long sought to see an expansion of our exports. Currently, 17 per cent of Australia's export earnings come from elaborately transformed manufactures, and they sustain many tens of thousands of jobs within Australia. This is an area that is not highly reported but, as I say, of the $154 billion worth of export earnings that we receive in Australia, 17 per cent are earned by ETMs—elaborately transformed manufactures.

I will highlight one area to the member for Aston that is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. It is the high-tech area of precision measuring and controlling instruments. We are developing intellectual property in Australia through investing in innovation in this country in recent years, through providing a stable economic environment and through providing an environment that is very conducive to being far more competitive in the international marketplace. The precision measuring and controlling instruments sector exported around $751 million worth of goods in 2001. It is the eighth largest manufactured export out of Australia, it involves around 300 companies and we have seen a growth of 16 per cent in employment in this sector since 1996. Quite obviously, our government's policies in terms of creating a very strong and stable economic environment in Australia are creating opportunities in the international marketplace and seeing the expansion in our exports of not just commodities and services but also elaborately transformed manufactures, which are sustaining an increasing number of jobs in the Australian economy.