Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blog Response to Politifact Australia Article 11/7/13 ‘To what extent is Australia a world leader’

Thursday 25th July 2013


The Hon Kelvin Thomson MP


Blog Response to Politifact Australia Article 11/7/13

‘To what extent is Australia a world leader’

Here are the facts


I would like to thank Politifact for querying whether Australia is a world leader in many fields, as I am always happy to discuss and promote Australian businesses and exporters.


Independent Research Australian Export Success

The Milken Innovation Report, based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2011-12, found that Australia is a leading country in innovation in university- industry collaboration, R&D expenditure, patents and science education. It further found that Australia is above average in technology exports which includes high value goods such as computers and pharmaceuticals.


In past studies conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Australia ranked first as a location to conduct clinical trials and second overall for the competitiveness of its biotechnology. The EIU ranked Australia as second in the Asia Pacific region for IT industry competitiveness. 


In my role and travels as Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, it was very clear to me that Australian businesses are increasingly becoming renowned domestically and abroad for their high quality, top end, high value, and niche products.  You can’t export if your product isn’t world-leading, and many Australian exporters are succeeding with world-leading products.


I visited the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Bendigo, Geelong and eastern Melbourne, as part of my Trade Outreach Program.


In April I visited Queensland and I met with PWR Performance Products, recipients of the Prime Minister’s Australian Exporter of the Year Award 2012. PWR design, develop, manufacture and export premium products for high performance motor vehicles in the elite racing market.


I visited NOJA Power who specialise in the research and development and manufacturing of low and medium voltage switchgear assemblies for industry, infrastructure and electricity distribution utilities, and are represented in more than 80 countries.


I met with Populous Australia, part of a global collective of architects, designers, technical experts and industry veterans that design stadiums and sports facilities, including London Olympic Stadium, Etihad Stadium and Forsyth Barr Stadium in New Zealand.


I visited the University of Queensland’s Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education, which delivers education and training to more than 6,500 student participants from over 60 countries.


I hosted a Trade and Exporter Roundtable in Gold Coast where I met with some very successful and innovative Australian exporters including Morlife, Technigro, Miessence, Icon Software Solutions and others.


In Sydney I met with Auto-Bake, which is a global designer and supplier of fully automated industrial baking ovens and systems. Internationally renowned for its innovative Serpentine technology, Auto-Bake’s compact, cost-efficient, continuous baking solutions are custom configured for a diverse range of baking applications.


In Sydney I also met with ResMed, a leading developer, manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment for treating, diagnosing and managing sleep disorder breathing and other respiratory diseases.


In Newcastle I met with DSI, Australia’s largest manufacturer and supplier of specialist strata reinforcement and support products to the underground coal and metalliferous mining sectors, and is a major exporter to the Asia-Pacific Region.


In April I visited Bendigo where I met with the Australian Turntable Company, who design, manufacture a range of products including car and truck turntables, heavy engineering solutions for the mining industry, residential and commercial management solutions and revolving restaurants and rooms. In Bendigo I hosted a regional Agribusiness Roundtable where I met with Munari Wines, EV Olives, Wisa Global, and B&B Basil. I later met with Keech Australia who design and manufacture high integrity steel casting applications for mining, agriculture, construction, railway and defence. I met with Kluwell Publications and VEA Group who are doing great work in the educational sectors.


In May I showcased Geelong to 13 Consuls-General where we met with CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory, who are undertaking ground-breaking work in responding to emerging and exotic animal diseases at home and abroad, including in Asia. I met with Backwell IXL appliance, car component, and foundry products manufacturer. I visited Cotton On who’re a global retail chain which began in Geelong with a range of key products including clothing, cosmetics and house decour, with over 800 stores worldwide. I hosted a trade roundtable which consisted of Aircraft Plastics Australia, Riordan Group, Stuck on You and other local businesses and exporters. I met with Boundary Bend who are Australia’s largest olive producer, with 2.5 million producing trees on 6,240 hectares. I met with RPC Technologies who supply corrosion resistant, structural fibre reinforced plastic fabrications, piping and ducting systems, acid resistant heavy duty linings and specialist composite products for defence.


In my own electorate of Wills I held a Trade Roundtable and met with bambis, who produce and distribute the well-known and successful Salt and Pepper homeware range,  and Pneuvay Engineering, who specialise in pneumatic conveying, industrial vacuum cleaning and materials handling components systems.


There are many other examples. According to Dr Donald Hector, Chemical Engineer and former company director (article ‘How to revive Australia’s manufacturing sector’ 11/11/11), CSL successfully made the transition from being a government owned corporation to a highly competitive, publicly owned company. It is now one of the biggest blood-products producers in the world. Tasmanian Alkaloids is the largest producer of medical opium alkaloids in the world.


Cochlear is another high value added exporter, and leading global expert in implantable hearing solutions. The Cochlear implant is one of numerous successful Australian products.


Another successful Australian company going international is ComputerShare. According to Austrade, over the past five years Australia’s Computershare has become the world’s largest provider of investor services, servicing more than 100 million shareholder accounts. With operations and 12,000 employees in more than 20 countries, Computershare is the prominent force in share registration, employee equity plans, proxy solicitation, dividend payments, and other specialised financial, governance and stakeholder support. Since 1978, the Melbourne-based company has grown to become a A$4.5 billion business by continuing to invest in its proprietary technology and product development. Revenue in 2011 was about US$1.6 billion, more than 75 per cent of which came from outside Australia.


Exporter Awards

The Australia Export Award recipients and Hall of Fame inductees illustrate the diversity of products, technologies, skills and services Australia is becoming increasingly renowned for; ranging from LaserVision who specialise in high impact entertainment communications, Ausenco, a leading provider of engineering and project management services to global resource and energy sectors, Casella Wines, and the University of New South Wales, to name a few.


The overall picture

Australia posted its third trade surplus in as many months in April 2013, reflecting the resilience of the economy despite global weakness. Data from the ABS shows Australia recorded a seasonally adjusted surplus of $28 million in April, as imports increased and exports fell slightly. April’s figure compares with a March surplus of $555 million, revised up from $307 million. On the export side the value of agricultural shipments rose 2% or $64 million, to $3.2billion. Of this exports of meat increased 3%, to $680 million for the month. Compared with April 2012, Australia's merchandise exports to China increased 16%, to $7.4 billion. There was also 5.5% growth, to $1.5 billion, in exports to South Korea. Exports to India were 17% higher for the month and up more than 8% over the year.


Australian economy and state of Australian business- The Facts

Business has invested over $1 trillion in Australia since Labor came to power in 2007. A strong investment outlook remains for Australia, with a record $268 billion at an advanced stage – helping to boost the productive capacity of our economy.


It is a myth that we are a high taxing government or a highly taxed country. The latest OECD estimates of total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP show Australia at under 26%, well under the OECD average of over 33%.


Australia’s economy stands as a beacon of resilience in the world, with contained inflation, low unemployment, low government debt and low interest rates. Interest rates have fallen from 6.75% to 2.75% since 2007 – the lowest rates since Menzies was Prime Minister.


Australia has a AAA credit rating with a stable outlook from all three ratings agencies. We are amongst only 8 nations in the world to have this.


Unemployment in Wills-the facts

The Politifacts article questions whether local businesses in Wills are helping to create jobs.


The March Quarter Unemployment figure for Wills was 4%, which compares favourably to the March Quarter of 2012 when it was 5.3%.


The continuing fall in unemployment in Wills demonstrates the economic management credentials of the Labor Government, helping reinforce Australia as a leading country for economic growth and employment.


With unemployment rates above 25 per cent in both Greece and Spain, and a staggering 50 plus per cent youth unemployment rate in both countries, results like these in Wills and nationally are the envy of the industrialised world.


Yours sincerely


Kelvin Thomson