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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2215

Senator REYNOLDS —I direct my question to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development. I understand that the minister's department has released a discussion paper, Media Developments in Asia: implications for Australia, which identifies media industries as one of the fastest growing industries globally in the 1990s. Can the minister tell the Senate what opportunities he sees for further growth by Australia's audiovisual industries and also explain the role he sees for these in strengthening economic and cultural ties with Asia?

Senator COOK —The discussion paper that was mentioned in the question was released today by the audiovisual task force in my department. It canvasses a range of issues for the development of Australia's audiovisual industries in the Asian region. The paper is designed to serve as an issues paper and an information resource document which can be used to sustain a more extensive debate on the ways to foster the growth of a competitive audiovisual sector in Australia. The paper outlines opportunities, threats and issues for export growth to Australia's film, television, video and multi-media industries.

  Traditionally there has been a focus on Australia's success in exporting film and television programs to Europe and the US markets. This paper, however, identifies opportunities for industry growth within the Asian region. Last year, the International Monetary Fund revalued its estimates of Asia's share of global wealth, scaling it up from seven per cent to 20 per cent.

  Currently, Asia has at least 240 million households with television, an increase of 70 per cent on the last five years. The number of middle-class Asian households is forecast to rise by 50 per cent by the year 2000 to 51 million households, or approximately 200 million to 300 million people overall. Based on this growth, plus the convergence of media and telecommunications technologies, the discussion paper identifies the following opportunities for Australia's audiovisual industries in the Asian region: the development of multi-media products, that is, interactive programs for training, education and entertainment; producing TV programs and training videos in non-English languages directly for regional markets; the provision of film and TV production training to other countries in Asia, for example, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam; and the provision of other audiovisual services, including technical consultancy, management, financial and production guarantor services.

  The development of Australia as a site for high technology investment, including advanced post-production computer animation, multi-media and off-shore production of film and TV programs and commercials is also canvassed. I commend the discussion paper to the Senate and hope that senators and people in the wider community will avail themselves of the opportunity to respond to what is a very worthwhile exposition of opportunities for an important growth industry in this country.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.