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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 22001

Mr DANBY (9:00 PM) —I want to discuss the success of local exporters in my electorate, including some of the major auto exporters and manufacturers in Australia. Holden, in particular, at Fishermens Bend is quite a famous firm all around Australia. It employs 8,950 people. Based in Melbourne Ports, Holden as of 2002 had exported nearly 95,000 engines to Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, North America, South Africa and South Korea for revenue of $A150 million. In 2002 it exported nearly 32,000 vehicles, earning revenue of $A900 million for the company and this country. Commodore is exported to markets in the Middle East, Brazil, South Africa, Brunei, Fiji and New Zealand. The Caprice-Statesman model is exported to the Middle East and New Zealand. The ute models are exported to South Africa and New Zealand. Monaro is now exported to the Middle East, New Zealand, Brunei and, from 2003, the USA. The V6 engine plant, which I am particularly enamoured of, is now exporting 30,000 engines and, with the prospect of the free trade agreement with the United States, Holden executives, led by the very competent, retiring Mr Peter Hanenberger, are hoping that the number of exports of the V6 engines will go to 100,000.

We also have the regional headquarters of Toyota in Melbourne Ports. I was there on Friday, participating in the award to Mr Asano, the President of Toyota Australia, and giving our congratulations for being a finalist in the Austrade awards for large manufacturers. Toyota export 66,000 cars from Australia at a value of $1.4 billion. Events in the Middle East notwithstanding, they are hoping to increase their production line to around 160,000, with a boost of 30,000 over the next few years.

Also based in Melbourne Ports is CleanEvent, whose mission statement says its aim is `to be the best and most environmentally aware provider of cleaning and waste management services to venues and events on a global basis'. CleanEvent also won an Austrade export award in the services category. We are not simply an industrial area, although we have all the industrial land around the port of Melbourne. A very important export industry in Melbourne Ports is the film and television industry, which just from Melbourne Ports alone exports $30 million worth of copyright material to the US every year as part of the very vibrant film and television industry in Australia.

The opposition support free trade and a free trade agreement with the United States if it is good for Australia. The film and television area in particular is different from other goods and services. As the Australian Screen Directors Association—and I think this is important to consider as part of the wider picture—said:

A society without culture, without creation, without artists, is a society condemned to stagnation, to withdrawal; a society without a soul, without dynamism. That is why most societies have recognised the unique status of cultural works and productions, and why cultural commodities require special attention and treatment.

Mr Speaker, you will remember that I spoke earlier this week about the great Australian film Gettin' Square, which has been nominated for 12 of the 14 award categories at the AFI. It is a paradigm of the great products of the Australian film and television industry. The Cultural Industry Sectoral Advisory Group, when making the point about society and culture, emphasised the importance of understanding the cultural industry and cultural exports, particularly in the light of this free trade agreement. It said:

Currently, 55% of free to air TV between 6am and midnight must be Australian & 80% of commercials must be Australian.

This is a situation which I hope will continue under a free trade agreement. There are currently government subsidies to the film industry of around $100 million per annum, if you include the Film Finance Corporation, the Film and Television School, NIDA et cetera. We got a very good deal with the Singapore free trade agreement, and I hope we will get one with the United States. America wants a standstill in the area of future video, where we accept current rules that will not allow it to change. This sounds good, but who knows what will happen tomorrow? If this agreement is to be in the interests of Australia and Australian culture, the Labor Party will support it, but it has to be a good deal for Australia in all aspects—auto exports, agriculture and the film and television area. Film and TV are part of our culture, which is most important for the ongoing health and vitality of Australian society.