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Keating statement: "clever" country buried

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MEDIA RELEASE WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

26 February 1992


Paul Keating's statement was more noticeable for what it excluded.

There was no acknowledgment that communications reduces distance far more effectively and cheaply than "things you can drop on your foot" or that future job growth and export income lies in expansion of information industries.

In the one sentence that might be construed to relate to the "clever" country the Prime Minister got it very wrong. The Australian Technology Group is a bureaucratic sop. It is totally opposed by the CSIRO and the many University companies which, for a long time, have been doing the same job.

There was no recognition of the globalisation of business - that Australia either 'plugs in' or gets lost, particularly in the communications arena.

At odds with the Prime Minister's statement are the musings of his Minister for Communications, Senator Richardson. He is for the status quo. He is very likely to deny the industries supplying telecommunications and broadcasting equipment and services the window of opportunity opening in the Asia-Pacific Rim.

The Prime Minister, of course, ignored the "clever" expert on his side of the House. Barry Jones, writing in The Australian (25-2-92) correctly identified information- based industries and services as "one of the greatest potential areas for development". As Barry said, to the factors of production - capital and labour must now be added knowledge. Keating lacks this factor entirely!

Tonight's statement was all about rectifying the mistakes of the past. It was not about taking Australia into the 21st Century.

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