Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 6 May 1987
Page: 2689

Mr LINDSAY —My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. At a time when our export markets are under siege as a result of the agricultural trade war between the United States and the European Economic Community, and in view of the recent escalation of tensions between the United States and Japan, what are Australian companies doing to expand our exports?

Mr DAWKINS —The first thing to note about the problems confronting Australian companies, particularly in the manufacturing industry, is, of course, the devastation which they experienced under the policies of our predecessors. The wages policies, the exchange rate policies and, indeed, nearly 30 years of mad industry policies led to the decimation of many of our industries. Of course, this was at a time when the current Leader of the Opposition was Treasurer. He was happy to pursue these policies. He was, of course, under the spell of the National Party of Australia. But, together they were prepared to see Australia exposed to the vulnerability of having our exports spread over far too few areas, commodities and products.

But, under the enlightened policies of this Government, I might say that there are now a number of Australian companies that are leading the fight back into export markets as far as Australia is concerned. I would like to give a couple of examples of some of these success stories. Hypercom, which is a company that manufactures data communications systems, has increased its exports by 400 per cent over the last two years. Those exports now represent 91 per cent of its turnover. Varian Techtron, a producer of high quality scientific instruments, now exports 85 per cent of its sales. Moving to another area, that of pet food, Uncle Ben's of Australia increased its exports to the Japanese market by 80 per cent, and this increase was achieved during the last 12 months.

Recently the Prime Minister and I were able to acknowledge the winning of a consultancy contract by MacDonald Wagner Pty Ltd for a $300m development in Argentina. Decor, which concentrates on product design, has secured increases in exports as high as 300 per cent over a three-month period. ADPRO, a manufacturer of video fire detection and security equipment, has got into the United States market-the first Australian company to do so-and it has seen a 300 per cent increase in its exports last year.

It is important that Australian manufacturing companies recognise the new opportunities which exist for them overseas. If we look at what has happened in the eight months to February, we see that manufactured exports have increased by 23 per cent compared with the same period last year. There has been an 87 per cent increase for motor vehicles, a 97 per cent increase for office equipment and automatic data processing equipment, 49 per cent for pumps and compressors, 28 per cent for electrical machinery and 36 per cent for cutlery and other household equipment.

The important thing about this is that, during that eight-month period that I referred to, manufactured exports totalled $5 billion, or 22 per cent of our merchandise exports. We now have to see the continuation of the consistently successful policies of this Government so that we can see a greater contribution to our exports being made by manufacturing companies and other companies, for instance, those in the services sector. What we do not want to see is the policies of this country handed back to the economic vandals opposite.