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Monday, 27 June 1994
Page: 1988

Senator FORSHAW —My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, is asked in the context of the Prime Minister's impending departure for Indonesia and media reports over the weekend about the success of the latest Northern Territory trade expo in attracting increased Asian investment to and from northern Australia. I understand that a major conference is being planned in Darwin, to be held in August, to further forge links between northern Australia and Asia. Can the minister confirm this and provide any details on the proposed conference?

Senator COLLINS —I wish to commend the organisers of the highly successful Northern Territory trade expo which was held during the past weekend. A record crowd of over 25,000 people attended the three-day event in Darwin. Given that Darwin's population is just over 70,000 in total, that was quite a turnout. More than 300 Indonesian business people representing over 70 companies attended, along with a number of important trade delegations. The expo director, Simon Latimer, has stated that the expo will provide valuable reference material for consultants to the Wran committee—that is, the Darwin committee—which has been asked by the federal government to investigate a range of initiatives to promote Darwin as Australia's gateway to Asia. A number of export and import prospects are reported to have flowed from the expo, including solar technology, cut flowers and other horticultural products to Irian Jaya and the import to Darwin of furniture and cane products.

  As all honourable senators would be aware, the Prime Minister is leaving Canberra this afternoon for Indonesia—as, indeed, is the trade minister. One of the Prime Minister's main tasks will be to open the $12 million `Australia Today, Indonesia 94' trade and cultural promotion in Jakarta, which is the largest promotion of Australian goods and services yet to take place anywhere in the world. I am confident that this promotion will further enhance opportunities for new export markets for Australian business, particularly in the primary industries and energy sector. No-one can overstate the importance of such events.

  In this regard, I am pleased to advise the Senate that the first regional outlook conference to be held in Darwin will take place there on 11 August. The theme of this conference will be `a focus on Asia'. It has been organised by ABARE, the Commonwealth's Darwin-based Office of Northern Development, and the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries.

  As honourable senators would be aware, the national outlook conference is Australia's largest and most prestigious commodities forecasting conference. I am confident that the northern Australian regional outlook conference will provide all participants with invaluable information on what is happening and what is likely to happen in our continuing efforts to find new markets in Australia's major primary industries, particularly with a focus on Asia.