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Tuesday, 21 June 1994
Page: 1779

Senator CHRIS EVANS —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. The minister would be aware of my continuing interest in the Australian involvement in the important Australia Today promotion currently under way in Indonesia. Can the minister inform the Senate what steps are being taken to build on the white paper industry initiatives, particularly the focus on fully utilising Australia's rich science and technology base, as part of our involvement in the Australia Today promotion?

Senator COOK —I do acknowledge Senator Chris Evans's close interest in this matter. Last Saturday in Jakarta I had the pleasure of showing the Indonesian Vice-President, General Try Sutrisno, through the major exhibition showcasing Australian science and technology capability. The exhibition was entitled `Visions for the Future'.

Senator Vanstone —Who cares if you were there? Tell us about the exhibition, you great dork.

Senator COOK —This is an extraordinary intervention. Here is an exhibition which showcases the best in Australian science, which was viewed by the Vice-President of Indonesia, and which is regarded by the Indonesian media and expert commentators as a key exhibition and one of the best of its kind, and the opposition complains about it. That is a disgusting reflection on the opposition's priorities.

  President Suharto and the Minister of State for Research and Technology, Dr Habibie, both visited the exhibition in May this year, which was then premiered as part of Ristek, the Indonesian science and technology exhibition. Their strong interest in the exhibition led to the invitation to include this exhibition in the Jakarta Fair, which the Vice-President opened on Saturday morning and which is Indonesia's largest yearly trade fair.

  This exhibition represents areas in science where Australia is a world leader and, importantly, areas in science that have a direct, useful and practical application to the needs of Indonesia and, on a broader scale, the needs of this region. It covers the areas of energy, environmental technology, telecommunications and environmental technology.

Senator Campbell —Nano-technology?

Senator COOK —As Senator Campbell interjected, nano-technology is included, as is aerospace technology, medicine, biotechnology, engineering and education. The exhibition forms part of the major trade and cultural promotion, Australia 94, that Australia is undertaking in Indonesia over the next few weeks.

  As I have said, the `Visions for the Future' exhibition showcases some of the best examples of Australian science and technology and is compelling because of the interactive nature of the displays. Interactive touch-screen guides introduce people to Australia's remarkable achievements in science and technology in both English and Bahasa Indonesian. They refer people to the companies and institutions that manufacture the particular exhibits. It will be particularly important in showing Indonesians from a wide range of backgrounds that there are significant numbers of areas in which Australian expertise can assist Indonesia's economic development.

  I am very pleased that the exhibition had already led to the signing of $12 million in joint ventures between one of the Australian participants and a new Indonesia based company that will carry out environmental and research monitoring. There are many other examples of areas of potential cooperation between our two countries. For example, Australian scientists have developed the world's most efficient solar cells and solar powered streetlights. As well, Australian researchers were the first in the world to build the bucky-balls, large soccer ball shaped molecules of carbon, which will have enormous use in industry, the environment and health care. Australian scientists have synthesised a new drug that may cure and prevent all forms of influenza virus. The world's aircraft manufacturers are turning to the Australian development—(Time expired)