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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 187

Senator ARCHER(3.34) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I commend the Department of Trade for an excellent report that is detailed and well-presented. I wish to thank Mr Menadue and the staff for the way in which they put the report together. The report goes a long way towards highlighting the problems that we need to face. One has only to browse through the various headings in the report to appreciate the difficulties in respect of a great proportion of our main trading items and partners. Considerable problems remain in respect of our cost structures, including the legitimate questioning of our reliability as a supplier of certain commodities. Further problems arise from the growth in the number of other suppliers-countries that are coming into the market for the first time, or that are developing their own economies to a point where they are meeting our prices both in Australia and overseas. There is a greater quest for self-sufficiency in more countries, particularly in relation to food and more countries are protecting their domestic markets in particular from overseas produce. There is greater protection and greater inroads are being made into our markets at home and abroad by new suppliers.

Australia needs to compete much more strongly to maintain and improve its established position. This country has slipped in the stakes of national prosperity from being fifth in the world a few years ago to its present position of twenty-first. If some improvements are not made in Australia's trading position, it will be lucky to maintain that position. This is a good and complete report but we must not overlook one fact. Although I have not seen it stated in so many words in my initial perusal of the report, far from everything on the horizon is rosy. I ask all honourable senators to have a good read of the report to see what they can find in it that needs to be worked on.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Jones) —Order! As the time has expired for consideration of Government papers, I call on the next business.