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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 597

Senator ZAKHAROV —Has the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce seen recent articles criticising the Buy Australian campaign for encouraging consumers to purchase Australian made goods out of patriotism rather than choosing products for quality and value for money, whatever their country of origin, and for charging a licensing fee for the use of the green and gold logo? Are such criticisms justified?

Senator BUTTON —I am grateful to Senator Zakharov for asking me this question because it provides me with an opportunity to say one or two things about criticisms of the campaign. It is an important issue and I congratulate Senator Zakharov on raising it here. It is good to have important issues raised.

Senator Macklin —Can't you find your place?

Senator BUTTON —I can. The real problem is whether the honourable senator can find his place-not just on a sheet of paper but in life, in politics. Can he find his place there? I am not sure. Perhaps the next election will tell whether he can find his place again.

The aim of the campaign to which Senator Zakharov referred accords with the sentiments of the Australian Consumers Association and the views expressed by the Government; that is, buying Australian does not mean buying Australian made products at any cost, irrespective of quality. If people do that, they will not be doing Australian industry a favour. The future prosperity of Australian industry will depend very much on quality innovative products designed to fill niches in the Australian and world markets. Of course the depreciation of the Australian dollar means that many Australian made products represent value for money in terms of price, but the message of the campaign is that they have to represent value for money in terms of quality, innovation and so on.

Research carried out by a Melbourne based marketing and social research firm indicates that the campaign has achieved virtually total awareness in the community, at 89 per cent, and has raised public consciousness about the need to consider the issues of buying Australian goods more often. Of those surveyed, 65 per cent indicated that their buying behaviour had been influenced by the campaign, and the survey indicated that public attitudes towards buying Australian have improved. There is a very strong feeling that the campaign itself has been worth while and should continue, and that is reflected in the views of 82 per cent of the respondents.

With regard to the licensing of the logo, that cannot be properly administered without incurring costs which would have to be met through higher taxation. Under the user pays principle, the Advance Australia Foundation can manage and police the certification system and put licensing fees back into promoting the campaign, and that body has been charged with fulfilling that function. It is an important consideration in changing attitudes and habits in Australia-not only attitudes and habits of consumers but also the attitudes and habits of manufacturers and employees of manufacturers. I think from that point of view it is very worth while indeed.