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Government seeks to improve the delivery of Government services and set a high standard for the private sector

ELLEN FANNING: The Federal Industry Minister, Peter Cook, wants Government businesses to lift their game and lead the way for the private sector in achieving the highest international standards. Well, as the date for delivery of the industry and employment statement draws closer, the Minister has outlined some of his priorities. He's focussing on raising standards for both government and private business, as well as making it easier for companies to get information and help from the Government. The Minister says the industry side of the statement will be more about changing practices than spending money. Lyndall Curtis is speaking here with Senator Cook.

PETER COOK: I think we've got to hold up a signpost for Australian industry that we're in the global economy now and the global economy is in Australia, as well as Australia being in it, and therefore what you face is the stiffest international competition on the domestic and export front; nothing short of best standards will apply for the private sector. But, in saying that, we've got to be mindful that we apply the standards that we preach to ourselves as well, and I think there is some room to improve the delivery of government services, focus them more on the needs of our client base, and ensure that they are delivered in a way in which they can be used or consumed properly and effectively.

LYNDALL CURTIS: In what way do you improve it? Is it things like applying the Best Practice program to government businesses?

PETER COOK: That's certainly the way for it, I think, and that's something that I think and hope we can do effectively in the forthcoming industry statement.

LYNDALL CURTIS: Has enough been done in getting industry, particularly industry in the regions, to achieve best standards?

PETER COOK: Well, a lot more is being done than was the case, but with Best Practice it always is true that you can never do enough to achieve it, and as soon as you have got where you think you are at the world's best level, then you want to be sure that you remain there and you're ahead of the pack. So it's an issue of continuous improvement and a recognition that one ought to always be trying to lift one's game. I think Australia is waking up to Best Practice, total quality management, continuous improvement, as managerial techniques and applying them both within the regions and, of course, nationally, and within our own private sector. But, as the quality movement will tell you in Australia, we like it to be more widely imbibed than it currently is.

LYNDALL CURTIS: There are things the Government is going to be doing in the industry statement to try and achieve better standards in regions and better standards nationally?

PETER COOK: Yes. Well, Australia .. the most powerful central message, I think, that we need to get across in the industry statement is that we are now thinking of Australia as in the global economy and there is no part of Australia that isn't in that economy. We've got to succeed in that economy and in that market place. Market forces will work against us if we don't aspire to and deliver Best Practice standards.

ELLEN FANNING:The Federal Industry Minister, Senator Peter Cook.