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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3390

Senator VIGOR(4.24) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The 1986 statement on science and technology by the Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones) bears the depressing news that Australia has sunk even further in measures of our technological capacity. The ratio of technology based exports to imports has sunk from an appalling 0.15 per cent to an even more appalling 0.12 per cent. In 1983 we were at least ahead of Greece, which was 0.14 per cent, and Turkey, which was 0.12 per cent. We now have fallen below both those nations. We have the lowest ratio of any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development except Iceland.

Australia is importing all its technology. The measures of our effort to correct the state of affairs is a ratio of gross expenditure on research and development to gross domestic product. This has dropped from 1.01 per cent in the previous year to 0.96 per cent this year-a trend which has continued since 1968. Over this interval, most developed countries have increased this ratio. Among OECD countries our ratio of gross expenditure on research and development to GDP is the lowest except for Ireland, Iceland, Portugal and Spain. I believe that we have a real problem to solve, but I will not take much more of the Senate's time on this matter. I seek leave to continue my remarks later on this paper.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.