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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3167


Mr CHYNOWETH —Will the Minister for Science and Technology inform the House about his recent visit to Japan and Korea? Will this lead to a reordering of priorities with the sunrise industries? Are there realistic opportunities for scientific co-operation between Australia, Japan and Korea?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I point out to the Minister for Science and Technology that the second part of the honourable member's question was in order.


Mr BARRY JONES —There are very obvious opportunities for scientific collaboration between Australia, Japan and Korea. I hope that we will have an ongoing program of collaboration between those two nations. I think it is fair to say that the most dramatic impact of my visit was to see how rapidly Korea has adopted fast track technological development. It has a very small technological elite-about 1 ,000 people, largely American educated. By comparison our technological elite is much larger-perhaps about 5,000. The difference is that Korea is working at about 80 per cent capacity and I suspect that we are working at only about 20 per cent capacity. Korea has undergone an educational revolution that we still have to go through. Of course, in terms of the standard of living, and overall levels of technological development, we are far ahead of Korea. But in selective areas Korea is doing extraordinary work. For example, in microelectronics, in my judgment, Korea is far ahead. I have with me a most remarkable specimen.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I just wonder how Hansard will record that specimen in the record of proceedings of the Parliament.


Mr BARRY JONES —I can describe it. This is a synthetic crystal of quartz of extraordinary purity, 16 centimetres long by 2.3 centimetres. This is still regarded as strategic material in many countries because its implications in microelectronics applications are enormous. The longest synthetic crystal that Britain has produced so far is 5 centimetres. The extraordinary thing is that in Australia we found no one in this area who was even aware that South Korea was into this technology at all. Korea is developing it extraordinarily quickly. In the case of Japan, from our point of view the most important development is the enormous demand by the Japanese for our software. That is clearly an area where we can export a tremendous amount-millions of dollars worth each year. The Japanese say that their traditional industries are dependent on oil. Their information industries are absolutely dependent on software. Australia is in an excellent position to sell them that software. I am very eager that we should pursue that.

But we should recognise just how dramatic the achievement has been in Korea and how inadequate much of the conventional wisdom about economic rationalism has been. In 1972 the Hyundai shipbuilding works did not exist. The World Bank said: 'Get back to the trees. You have no possibility of succeeding'. But 11 years later it is the biggest shipping works in the world. It has two dry docks, one of which will hold a one million tonne dead weight tanker. So there has been a most extraordinary development. I think we ought to be well aware of this and we ought to have much closer co-operation with Korea.