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Monday, 20 June 1994
Page: 1767

(Question No. 1219)

Senator Brownhill asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 14 March 1994:

  (1) What is the function and purpose of the Export Centre at Parramatta, NSW.

  (2) On what basis is it funded.

  (3) What Federal Government departments have a presence at the centre.

  (4) On what basis are staff/consultants employed to staff the centre and what is the length of their tenure or contract.

  (5) What fees, expenses and other payments are made to staff or others engaged at, or involved with, the centre.

  (6) How much, and what percent, of the centre's budget is spent on consultants employed or attached to the centre.

  (7) What performance appraisal measures are employed to measure the effectiveness of activities at the centre.

Senator McMullan —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The Export Centre at Parramatta was created following the adoption of the National Trade Strategy by Commonwealth and State Governments in 1991. The Centre provides advice to exporters and potential exporters in the Western Sydney Region, one of the most rapidly growing areas of manufacturing in Australia. The Centre seeks to work with established exporters and with new or potential exporters to facilitate their move into international markets. It provides a gateway for the business and exporting communities to the wide range of facilities provided by the Centre's sponsors. The Centre increases export awareness within the region of Western Sydney, and provides through individual counselling, initial export advice and referral to allied service providers for more detailed assistance.

  The Centre is committed to exporter education and conducts a range of seminars and workshops either solo or in joint venture with organisations such as the Research Institute of Asia and the Pacific (RIAP). It works closely with local business groups to increase awareness of exporting and to facilitate communication among providers of service to optimise efficient provision of services.

  (2) The Centre is funded through sponsorship, and funds generated from seminars. Its sponsors are Austrade, the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales, NIES/NSW Department of Business & Regional Development, Department of Industry Science and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Fliway—AFA Pty Ltd, Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service (AQIS), Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), The State Chamber of Commerce (NSW), Ernst and Young, Optus Communications and Flanagan, McDonnell and McGonigal.

  Sponsorships include:

  Full time secondment—$12,000 per annum

  Part time secondment—$5,000 per annum

  Casual placement—$1,500 per month

  Display—$5,000 per annum

  Referral—$2,000 per annum

  The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales contribute to the cost of managing the Centre.

  (3) The following Federal Government departments have a presence at the Centre:

  Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade;

  Department of Primary Industries and Energy—Australian Quarantine Inspection Service;

  Department of Industry, Science & Technology—NIES.

  (4) Staff are employed at the Centre on the following basis: Centre Manager and one Counsellor—on secondment from Austrade; Receptionist/Secretary—shared with the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales; Counsellors—seconded officers from sponsors. The Centre does not employ or engage consultants.

  (5) The Centre shares a receptionist with the Chamber of Manufactures of NSW towards which Austrade contributes 50% of the salary. Apart from this, the Centre may make payments from time to time for services provided (eg maintenance, catering, relief staff) in accordance with the operations included in the business plan agreed to by the management committee.

  (6) Consultants are not engaged by the Parramatta Export Centre. Staff at the Centre have referred a small number of clients to the National Industry Extension Service (NIES), which is a joint program operated by the Department of Industry, Science and Technology and all State and Territory Governments, for work in the areas of business planning and export marketing planning.

  After investigating a firm's needs, NIES may suggest a range of consultants capable of providing the particular assistance needed. The client firm, not NIES, negotiates with, selects and employs the consultant.

  (7) Seconded Austrade staff at the Centre operate under a performance appraisal system, including performance agreements and quarterly appraisals by supervisory managers. Performance appraisal measures include preparation of a Business Plan which sets objectives for the Centre and monthly reports prepared by the Centre Manager for the Centre's Management Committee. A committee comprising sponsors of the Centre meets regularly to review the policies and management of the Centre. At the December 1993 review meeting it was agreed to continue support for the Centre for 1994.