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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12903

Mr VASTA (Bonner) (09:55): It is with pleasure that I rise this morning to discuss my recent study tour of China, Hong Kong and Macau. As a former small business owner, it was important for me to undertake a study tour in China to ascertain whether or not there were opportunities or other practices that we could adopt to further strengthen Australian business practices.

During the trip, I met with Mr Phil Ingram of the Australian Trade Commission in Hong Kong, and Mr James Nachipo, the Deputy Consul-General. We had very informative meetings. Austrade assists businesses by navigating the idiosyncrasies of Chinese business practices, identifying business partners, new customers and real opportunities, accessing both urban and high-growth regional centres in China and separating business reality from myth in this dynamic marketplace. I met with Mr Ingram's team, who have an extraordinary level of dedication to their jobs, with some of them serving the public for over 20 years. I was very privileged to talk with Mr Wilson Tang, Mr William Lin, Ms Sarah Chan, Ms Rosita Wong, Ms Frances Cheung, Ms Emesa Yeung, Ms Sally Lam and Ms Eve Ching.

I also met with Mr Stevan Tao from the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce, where we discussed the great potential for Australia in the Chinese market and how Australian expertise—especially in the hospitality industry—could be utilised. Hong Kong has a very commerce-driven government, with the major players in the chamber of commerce generally invited to sit in on cabinet meetings. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has an incredible understanding of the Hong Kong economy, and it assists the Hong Kong government directly with policy. The Australian government could benefit from looking at this model to form policies that are more suited to the industries that they affect.

I believe it is important for all members of parliament to study or visit China and its administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. The diverse region of Asia is our biggest trading partner, with an economy that is dynamic and growing. It is vital that Australia takes advantage of the historical closeness and geographical proximity that we share with one of the world's fastest-growing nations. I recommend that we strive to strengthen out ties with this economy so that our economic fortunes are on the same upward trajectory. By taking advantage of the opportunities that we can offer to our largest trading partner, we can build on our existing relationships to ensure that Australian businesses can benefit from being part of the partnership with one of the world's most vibrant economies.