Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas says recent Rann Government changes to South Australia’s trade offices after three years of uncertainty make no sense at a time when South Australia’s export performance is struggling.
“This week the Rann Government announced the closure of trade offices in Hong Kong and Malaysia after recent decisions to close offices in Japan, Indonesia and the United States,” Mr Lucas said today.
“Whilst the Government claims it is keeping an officer in Hong Kong and opening a new office in India, it is clear the Government is massively reducing our efforts in trade promotion through trade offices.
“Sadly, this decision comes after three years of reviews and dithering during which time there has been a significant loss of morale amongst our staff in trade offices.
“We are now in the fourth year of the Rann Government’s term and these decisions are still dribbling out. In the meantime we have lost quality staff who have left due to the delays and uncertainty in the Rann Government’s decision making process.
“These changes come at a time when latest export figures continue to show South Australia’s performance is the worst of all the states.
“For example, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures for December 2004 show:
State Increase in Exports – %
(2004 cf. 2003)
“It should be noted that in the last year of the Liberal Government South Australian exports grew at the fastest rate of all states, at a rate almost eight times faster than the export growth for Australia (9.9% cf. 1.3%).
“It is clear that three years of downgrading our trade offices’ effort together with the ‘gutting’ of the state’s key economic development agency (the Department of Trade and Economic Development or DTED) have been a part of the reason for the state’s continued poor export performance.
“As long as the Rann Government continues with its misguided policies they will not get within a ‘bull’s roar’ of their stated goal of trebling exports by 2013.”