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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 899


Senator JONES(3.45) —I rise to make one or two remarks on the report of the high-level trade mission that went to Japan in July 1984. I do so because I was in Japan earlier this year. My visit showed me very clearly that there was a market in Japan for Australian goods. One of the problems facing the Australian traders in Japan was that the Australian community did not have a good record in industrial matters. Because of the problems relating to supply of goods from the Australian nation to Japan most Japanese traders were reluctant to enter into agreement with Australia. They were afraid that industrial relations in Australia were not good enough and that there would not be a continuation of supply to Japan.

One point that I would like to make before I turn to some of the points raised in the report is that in discussions with various people involved with raw materials from Australia they raised the question of industrial relations but made the point that because of the change of government in Australia there certainly appeared to be a change in industrial relations and in a number of industrial conflicts in this country. They thought there was a future for Australian goods in Japan and for trading between Australia and Japan because they felt that there was now a government in power in Australia that was taking some steps to improve industrial relations and to cut down on the number of industrial disputes that had taken place during the period of the Fraser Government.

The mission that went to Japan to discuss high-level trading with the Japanese should be congratulated particularly for the fact that in its report it made very clear that the Japanese-not only at the time that I went to Japan but also as late as July 1984-recognised that because of the change of government in Australia, the Hawke Labor Government, there has been an improvement in industrial relations and a decrease in the number of industrial conflicts that have taken place in this country. There is a real chance for some development of large trade with Australia. I will quote from the report. It very clearly outlines the findings of the mission that went to Japan and also clearly shows what a difference the Hawke Labor Government is making to the relationship, particularly in trade, between Japan and Australia.


Senator Chaney —You lost all our beef market.


Senator JONES —The Leader of the Opposition interjects. I am talking about industrial matters. Under the heading 'Industrial relations' the report said:

Japanese business and government were advised that industrial relations in Australia had improved significantly since the election of the Hawke Labor Government.

We know what the result was when Senator Chaney's Party was in government. The report continues:

Although apprehension about Australia's capacity to ship manufactured goods promptly was expressed there was a widespread acknowledgment in Japan of this improvement.

The mission attested that industrial disputes have decreased by 36 per cent during the two years ending March 1984, consultative arrangements have been established to bring about a consensus approach to Australia's international competitiveness and continued improvement is expected as the benefits of the Prices and Incomes Accord flow through.

In other words, two points come out of this report. First is the improved industrial relations in Australia; there are not as many industrial conflicts as there were under the previous Government. Secondly, because of the accord we now find Australia is in a better position to compete in overseas markets. I believe that in the future, because of the work of this mission and its report and because of the information given to the Minister for Trade (Mr Lionel Bowen), there will be an improvement in trade between Australia and Japan. Much of that improvement will be due to the Hawke Labor Government's policies on industrial relations in Australia and also its policies which have created a situation whereby Australia is regarded in Japan as being much better able to deliver on time the goods that it says it will deliver to its Japanese trading partners.

Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.