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Laser conference focuses on marketplace

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PRESS RELEASEPeter McGauran MPΙ ϊΪ ή β ρ ΤΓ Shadow Minister for Science and Technology Federal Member for GippslandLASER CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON MARKETPLACEAustralian manufacturers are missing out on a multi-billion global market in laser-related products, a national conference on laser technology was told today.Global sales of commercial laser equipment have doubled over the past five years and now total $1.3 billion, while the market for products which incorporated lasers is now worth tens of billions of dollars.In opening the Australian Conference on Lasers, Optics and Spectroscopy at the Australian National University today, the Shadow Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, said the national laser research effort was well placed to support an innovative export industry but this had failed to emerge■Mr McGauran said laser technologies had become key features of commonly used consumer and business items as compact discs, bar coding scanners and office printers.He said international demand for lasers for use in communications, medical science and defence had also exceeded all expectations but Australia had so far failed to grab its share of the market."Local manufacturers are unable to capture the benefits of the powerful laser research and development capability which exists in the universities and CSIRO," he said."Despite their close links with overseas distributors, laser firms report high interest rates, high exchange rates and a shortage of skilled engineers are stifling their development."Mr McGauran said it was necessary the laser research community and manufacturers form an association to coordinate their attack on the export market."if Governments have the courage to strip away unnecessary costs, UheJLe ia alill Lime to win lucrative niche marketc in such areas as environmental, medical and communications applications for lasers."But this will require close consultation and planning by researchers, manufacturers and user-groups."Mr McGauran said local firms had shown their capacity to compete on quality and price, but they had been dragged down by unnecessary costs, skills shortages and a failure to keep pace with changes in technology.For further information, contact Peter McGauran: (03) 347 0164 or (051) 44 6744 September 30, 19918 <