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Austrade boss has right objective despite government hurdles



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>* 7 MEDIA s t a t e m e n t N S te p h e n S m ith M P

24 September 1996

AUSTRADE BOSS HAS RIGHT OBJECTIVE DESPITE GOVERNMENT HURDLES

Shadow Trade Minister, Stephen Smith, today welcomed reports that Austrade Chairman, Alan Jackson, wants to continue the previous Government's work in building an export culture, but warned that Mr Jackson's job will be made tougher because the current Government has withdrawn support for Australia's new and emerging exporters.

Mr Smith said he shared Mr Jackson's view that Austrade has a critical role in leading a campaign to reinforce an export culture - a role developed under the previous Government.

"However, the continuation of this role was dealt a severe blow by the Coalition's first Budget," Mr Smith said.

"The Government showed clearly its lack of commitment to Australian exporters by slashing overall Austrade funding by more than $90 million for 1996/97.

"For Australia to continue to improve as an exporting nation, Austrade must be able to provide the necessary assistance and encouragement for new and potential exporters.

"Instead, the Trade Minister, Tim Fischer, is leading Australia's export charge backwards.

"Mr Fischer sees cutting support programs and funding as the key to export success.

"Mr Fischer considers staying silent on APEC as a way to inspire Australian companies to find markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Mr Fischer is the biggest hurdle to Mr Jackson and Austrade building up an export culture in this country."

Mr Smith said Mr Fischer has already slashed the EMDG scheme, and abolished the International Trade Enhancement Scheme, the Innovative Agriculture Marketing Scheme, the Asia Business Links and the Asia Pacific Fellowship Scheme.

"And now, as Alan Jackson declares that Austrade will use award ceremonies, conferences and promotional activities to promote an export culture, we learn that Mr Fischer has forced the relocation and significant downgrading of Austrade’s Corporate Communications Division - the very people who coordinate these activities, including the Exporter of the Year Awards.

"Perhaps Mr Fischer plans to 'save money' by bringing in more consultants.

"Mr Jackson needs your help and your support, Mr Fischer. It is not the Trade Minister's job to limit Austrade's effectiveness."

Further information: Stephen Smith or Jane O'Dwyer (09) 377 3355 or 0419 93 7336.

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