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Wednesday, 24 November 1993
Page: 3574


Senator BROWNHILL (Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia) (5.19 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

This is the annual report of Austrade entitled The Australian Trade Commission 1992-93—Really making a difference. And that is what we really need—an Austrade and an export culture that will really make a difference in getting our products offshore.

  The report says that Austrade helps to win business overseas and bring investment to Australia. Having just been through Europe and central Europe in July, I believe that Austrade is doing a fantastic job in bringing trade to the fore. It is a difficult job because at the moment trade is having to suffer the imposts involved in getting our products offshore. These include increased costs of transport, brought about by increased fuel taxes in the budget, and the costs associated with the slow reform of the waterfront.

  I will allude to a few of the areas that are mentioned in the report. One is Austrade's responsibility to serve Australia's export community, including thousands of small and medium sized enterprises that currently export or may do so. Some of the areas are innovative, some are new and some are old.

  Export centres, for example, which Austrade is now operating with the chambers of commerce, are helping people to understand more about what can be offered. The market analysis unit organises detailed research of overseas markets on behalf of exporters and makes sure that people in Australia know a little bit about them. I think that in the past Austrade has not done quite as well in that area—although maybe it will in the future—as it has in the overseas postings. The people over there do a fantastic job.

  The market opportunities unit distributes opportunities spotted overseas amongst the Australian exporters via the export intelligence unit. The network support unit arranges visits to Australia by foreign business people so they can learn what we have to offer them. Then there is the national export hotline. If people dial 132878 during business hours anywhere in Australia, they are connected to the hotline and told what services are provided by Austrade. About 30 or 40 calls a day go to those areas.

  Austrade has helped a great deal in the central European countries—especially in the Czech Republic and Poland, for example, to get more wool into those areas. Joint ventures and similar activities can be pursued. Certainly one should make special mention of the Austrade officers in those places.

  The fact that we now export so much wine and are pushing our product into places such as Germany, one of the biggest wine markets in the world, and the fact that we have five per cent of the UK wine market, is, in many cases, the result of the help and support given by Austrade. Austrade is not perfect but it is the front line of our trade in foreign countries. If it can improve a little bit more in helping those prospective companies in Australia, I believe that it will give an even better report next year of the job that it is doing for Australia's export industries.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.