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Wednesday, 19 May 1993
Page: 835

Senator WEST —My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Is it true that in recent years Australia has become a world leader in the design and construction of high-speed ferries on the international market? If so, what has been the export performance of Australia's major high-speed ferry builders; and what are the potential markets for these ferries?

Senator Richardson —Good question.

Senator COOK —My colleague Senator Richardson has just said that this is a good question, and he is absolutely right. This is a good example of Australian design technology, Australian manufacturing ingenuity and Australian marketing seizing a leading place for this country in the world fast speed ferry market, which is a growing market around the globe.

  It is right to say that Australian design and construction in high-speed ferries is the world's leading technology. Our naval architects have used the light material of aluminium, aircraft technology and Australian design and water-jet propulsion systems to create for this country a global reputation of high quality manufacture and supply of ferries of this type. The catamaran design which we have developed in this country too, especially the wave-piercing catamaran, enjoys internationally a very high reputation. The manufacturing companies involved in this country developing these ferries are: in Hobart, International Catamarans—

Senator Walters —That was not thanks to you.

Senator COOK —I do not think International Catamarans would say that; I think that International Catamarans would recognise the support that the Government has given it—in Perth, Austral Ships and Wavemaster International; and, in Cairns, the NQEA company.

  Over the last several years some 60 such ferries have been manufactured in this country at a value of between $3 million and $30 million with a minimum capacity size for passengers of 200. In 1990-91 the value of this market for Australia was $60 million. It is estimated that the value for Australia of this market in the 1992-93 year is $180 million and that in 1993-94 it will go to between $250 million and $300 million.

  We have sold these ferries in all parts of the globe. The only country that blocks our supply is, unfortunately, the United States under the Jones Act of Congress, which means that we cannot sell our manufactured ship-craft or ferries in that country. But certainly we have done so in Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, New Zealand, Africa and South America. It is a growing market where Australia rightfully has developed a global reputation for excellence in design, manufacture and technology.