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Minister is pleased with latest trade results.

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Tuesday 1 February 2005

Minister is pleased with latest trade results


ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Trade Minister Mark Vaile says it's the States that are responsible for imp roving transport networks, and he's been telling Michael Rowland that he's heartened by the latest trade numbers. 


MARK VAILE: When you see the fact that exports rose by one per cent and imports declined by one per cent in December, it does identify where a lot of the problem is in terms of the level of imports coming to Australia. And our looking to 2005 we're expecting export growth to move along quite nicely with some major export commodities coming on line. 


MICHAEL ROWLAND: How important is it that capacity constraints, Australia's aging infrastructure, is tackled as a way of further boosting export growth? 


MARK VAILE: I think the way we need to look at this at the moment, and it's, we are, and John Anderson has done so in developing the AusLink strategy for road and rail freight in Australia, but we need to monitor closely the capacity of our export ports and the logistical supply chain getting to the ports.  


We need to encourage State governments who are, who hold the responsibility for our export ports and the management of our ports, to maintain a very strong focus and review the capacity of the ports. 


MICHAEL ROWLAND: The States and the Federal Opposition leader, Kim Beazley, are saying well it's not really the States' problem, that the Federal Government is buck passing, and you've got a bumper surplus, surely you've got lots of money to spend on improving the state of Australia's roads and rail network. 


MARK VAILE: Well, I mean, you know, the reality is that the port authorities across Australia are either fully operated by State government or are State government enterprises that operate and deliver a dividend back to those State governments to their own budgets.  


I mean, it's very easy for the States to say every time they need something done give us some more money from the Commonwealth. We're running a fiscally responsible operation at a Commonwealth level. It is questionable as to whether some of the State government are, but we are not about to allow them to abrogate their responsibility in terms of the export effort and the contributions to the overall economy in their States in Australia. 


The State governments all very quickly rush to claim credit for export achievements. Their contribution has got to be efficient infrastructure that is within their area of responsibility. 


ELEANOR HALL: Federal Trade Minister Mark Vaile speaking to Michael Rowland