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Transcript of doorstop interview: Melbourne: 26 August 2009: Building Brand Australia.

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26 August 2009

Doorstop Press Conference, Melbourne  

Subject: Building Brand Australia

QUESTION: Minister, why do we need a special brand for Australia?

SIMON CREAN: We need to promote better what Australia does across the breadth of its ingenuity, creativity - the quality of the products and services it's got on offer. Australians know it - but the rest of the world doesn't. I'm struck by all of the countries that I visit that they are quite amazed at the breadth of what Australia has on offer. They know it's a great

place to come and have a holiday. We've got to convince them it's a great place to invest, to live, to be educated, to set up businesses. This is where Australia's future lies - promoting better to the rest of the world what we intrinsically know we're good at.

QUESTION: Is the Government worried that the brand has been damaged?

SIMON CREAN:'s not worried that the brand's being damaged. I think we've done very well in promoting this as a great tourism destination. We still have to do that. But it's much more than that. Australia has much more to offer than simply the selling of resources or agricultural produce. These will continue to be important, but it's the value-added dimension of our traditional base plus the breadth of what we've got to offer in elaborately transformed manufactures, smart manufacturing, if you like, as well as the services economy. Now understand this: services, in the Australian economy, are 80 per cent of our economy, but it's only one third of our exports.We can do much better in terms of selling our range of services to the rest of the world, and we must as a country of 22 million people, we've got to engage much more to secure our economic future by selling our goods and services better to the rest of the world.

QUESTION: But a glossy advertising campaign - surely we should just let our product speak for itself.

SIMON CREAN: Well I think we have let products speak for themselves. We haven't promoted the ones that don't speak for themselves. We've got to stand up for the products and services that don't speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Like what?

SIMON CREAN: And it's not a glossy campaign per se, it's how we define better our brand: how we define better the breadth of our strength. How we tell the rest of the world what we know ourselves we're good at.

QUESTION: And what if we don't do it? We're looking at Trade 2020. What happens if we miss this opportunity...?

SIMON CREAN: Well we don't intend missing the opportunity - there's a whole range of things. Brand Australia is but one component. I mean, we're out there aggressively trying to open markets. We're out there, as a nation, investing in the things that are going to make us more competitive and productive, investments in our skills education, the education revolution. But what we have to do is not just sit back and hope the rest of the world comes to us. We've got to go to the rest of the world. There's no point opening the markets unless we're going to crash through them. And Brand Australia is about helping us project far better to the rest of the world what we have to offer.

QUESTION: Which countries will Brand Australia be pushed towards?

SIMON CREAN: It won't single out individual countries, but clearly, our opportunity, our best opportunity, going forward, is in the ASEAN, in the Asian region. I've said before that if we get our positioning right, we are talking of a market of three billion people, and combined gross product of $16.5 trillion. This is huge. Huge opportunities. Australia is competitive. Australia is creative. Australia has a great range of things to offer. We will continue to try and open the market opportunities, but most significantly, we have to sell ourselves better by injecting a better understanding of the full range of goods and services that we have on offer.

QUESTION: Do you think we're up against it, given the difficulties with China at the moment?

SIMON CREAN: No, I think that the trade relationship with China continues to grow very strongly. We've agreed to reopen the trade talks. We've had very successful meetings, visits to the regions of China - a gas deal. The recent gas deal. There's a huge case in point. This is a commitment by China to a long-term contract. They see Australia as part of its energy supply, but not just any energy - clean energy. So Australia's brand is clean energy, supplied to the rest of the world. Australia's brand is clean food, nutritional supply, food bowl to south east Asia. As these economies grow - and they will be the growth economies of the next decade - their living standards will increase. Their demands for energy and for food will increase. But so, too, will their demand for infrastructure and services. This is the creative space in which Australia can play.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you went with Kim Carr to China recently. What kind of opportunities were you presenting to the car industry…

SIMON CREAN: China is the largest car market in the world, and the largest car producer now in the world. China, because of its increased living standards, is going to see huge growth in auto sales in a world that has seen declining auto sales. The challenge of

restructuring in the auto industry - clean car technology - this is the space that Australia is very good at. Australia has a huge capability in auto-design. It's just got a small market. China's got a huge market, but not the full capability. We can fill the gaps. And we can do it in a way that helps secure the future of a great Australian industry.

QUESTION: Was the ownership of General Motors discussed at all?

SIMON CREAN: No. The ownership of General Motors wasn't discussed. The fact that General Motors had made the decision, as part of its restructuring plans in the US, to retain its Australian operations, was discussed. Why? Because there was a realisation GM and China, that Australia has this range of capability in auto-design to build, to smart design all of

those sorts of capabilities. It has that range. It's what's in demand. It's what China doesn't have the full range of, and it knows it. And it's looking for cooperative joint activity with Australia to help them achieve their objective. If Australia can position itself well in that partnership, then our auto-industry will have a very strong future.


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