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Tuesday, 27 March 2001
Page: 25714

Mr McARTHUR (3:27 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Is the minister aware of Australian export success stories and what they mean for jobs growth? Is the minister aware of any alternative policies?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —I thank the member for Corangamite for his question. The government continue, unlike those opposite, to talk up the benefits of the changes we have made in the Australian economy in strengthening the opportunities for Australia's exporters. We continue to talk up the achievements of Australia's exporters, both nationally and internationally, in terms of what they have done for the Australian economy. We have seen significant growth. Last year, $142 billion worth of goods and services was exported out of Australia, which generated one in five jobs across Australia. For the interest of the member for Corangamite, one in four jobs in regional Australia is dependent on exports, and almost half of Australia's export income is generated in regional Australia.

Last week I launched a publication called From Sheep's Back to Cyberspace, which I understand has been circulated to all members and senators. I ask them to use that publication in their local areas to highlight the government's policies and how they have benefited both in a trade sense in market openings and in the tax reform sense in strengthening the Australian economy to be more competitive in the international marketplace. This publication captures the diversification of the export base of rural and regional Australia from traditional rural and mining industries to a wide variety of manufacturing and service exporters, including the way in which cyberspace, in the form of e-commerce, is changing the way regional Australia and regional Australian exporters do business with the rest of Australia and the rest of the world.

It is important that we recognise some of those industries across rural and regional Australia. It is not just, as the name indicates, the wool industry which is now on the road back to recovery—where we saw exports grow by over 34 per cent in 2000. That will also be good news for the member for Corangamite, who represents that part of Victoria. There are other examples outlined in the publication that I implore members to use and I will start with Corangamite: a company in Corangamite that exports tree ferns—K. and M. Cole Ferns of Colac; dairy products from Bega Cheese in the electorate of Eden-Monaro; manufactured aircraft in the electorate of Hinkler—Jabiru Aircraft; grains from the electorate of Mallee; beef from the electorates of Capricornia and the Northern Territory; manufacturing products such as Australia's impressive high-speed catamarans from Incat in Tasmania, which I think is in the electorate of the member for Denison; and tourism in the electorate of the member for Kalgoorlie. Of course, one of the significant growth sectors of Australia's export effort, and an all-important one, is education. The publication highlights distance education from the university sector in the electorate of Groom.

Dr Martin —And Wollongong.

Mr VAILE —And Wollongong. The book highlights the electorate of Groom. Importantly for those 150,000 students, Australia's education exports are now worth $4 billion. What we want to highlight in this publication are the government's policies in terms of opening up markets, the government's policies in terms of reducing interest rates, the government's policies in terms of reducing corporate levels of taxation and the government's policies in tax reform that have removed $3½ billion worth of indirect taxes from exporters and have helped strengthen the hand of Australia's exporters in the international marketplace.

Those exporters are asking the question: what is going to be the impact of a Labor government if it implements its policies of roll-back? Which Australian exporting industries will a Beazley-led Labor government have an impact upon in terms of taxation? From which Australian export industry is the Labor Party going to roll back that tax benefit and impose the burden of higher taxation and higher interest rates? It is important to note that our government is talking up the benefits of exports—talking up what it is achieving—while the Labor Party is talking them down.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.