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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27391

FRAN BAILEY (1:54 PM) —The main purpose of the Export Market Development Grants Amendment Bill 2001 is to extend the Export Market Development Grants Scheme, or the EMDG Scheme, to 2005-06. Together with this, a number of improvements will be made to the scheme, such as the inclusion of tourism. I have already received a positive response from business in my electorate once they have found out that tourism is now to be included. The EMDG Scheme has already been very successful in assisting Australia's exporters to enter, and ultimately be successful in, foreign markets. This legislation will enable more businesses to become successful exporters. The government's primary objective, as set out in the EMDG act, is to bring benefits to Australia by encouraging the creation, development and expansion of foreign markets for Australian goods, services, intellectual property and know-how.

In my electorate of McEwen, some 60 local businesses have received a combined total of $1.5 million in EMDG assistance since 1996. These businesses are involved in a wide range of activities, including the export of meat products, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware and software, publishing, horticulture, clothing and education. The countries that they have exported to include China, the Middle East, the United States, Japan and India.

I am also happy to say that an increasing percentage, currently 22 per cent, of applicants are located in regional and rural areas of Australia, reflecting the success of government initiatives to increase the uptake of the scheme outside our capital cities. Importantly, many of these businesses would not have opportunities to expand into new markets and grow their businesses without the assistance of the EMDG Scheme.

The scheme provides assistance in areas such as marketing and promotion, which are vital if businesses are to establish a toehold in foreign markets. Making foreign customers and clients aware of their products is an important first step for any business that hopes to be a successful exporter. Added to this is the need to utilise local knowledge by employing consultants who are able to assist in undertaking research and analysis of the prevailing market. Without this local knowledge, many businesses would not be able to focus their energies on identifying the relevant market for their product and developing a customer base.

The inclusion of tourism in the EMDG Scheme will provide real benefits for my electorate. Some of the areas in my electorate that will benefit from the inclusion of tourism in the EMDG Scheme are the Yarra Valley, the Plenty Valley, the alpine region around Mansfield and Jamieson, Lake Eildon and the surrounding towns, Marysville and the Mystic Mountains, and Kilmore—which happens to be the oldest inland town of Victoria and which has developed up to this point in time a thriving tourist industry capitalising on the historic buildings that still exist in the Kilmore district. The Nagambie Lakes is yet another such area of my electorate. These are becoming very famous tourist areas because they are within such easy access of Melbourne. They are most desirable tourist attractions, but many of the people who are involved in the tourist industry in these areas often lack the funding within their own very small businesses to engage in promotion and advertising of their products in an international market.

Most importantly, the extension of tourism in this legislation will open the door for so many of these small businesses involved in the tourist industry. It will enable them to travel overseas, promote the area and promote their businesses. In addition to that, it will enable them to bring overseas clients back here to Australia in order to promote and display the tourism that they are trying to promote and market. This is a most important aspect. This government has had the foresight to see that this is a tremendous advantage to small businesses, including areas such as those in my electorate.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 101A. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member for McEwen will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.