China Trade Trip

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:19 :47 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills a question about the recent super mission to China.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.L. Brokenshire: Successful super mission.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: The Hon. Robert Brokenshire interjects, and I know that is out of order, that it was a 'successful super mission', but the proof will be some years off before we know whether it has been successful. It has been well documented that there were well over 50 public servants and ministers, including ministers, staff and public sector bureaucrats along with some 34 local government representatives, including mayors and chief executives from a number of councils across South Australia, and about another 170 delegates from the private sector. I think it added up to some 250 participants on that particular super mission. At the time it was described as South Australia's largest ever overseas trade mission.

The government has been quite secretive on the budgeted cost of the trip. They have chosen not to disclose any of the costs, but we know that it would have included all the airfares, accommodation, internal travel costs inside the particular country that they visited and daily allowances—per diems—for the government officials and ministers. Also, I have been made aware that a number of additional resources were required, being consultants on the ground to put these programs together. My questions to the minister are:

1.How many external consultants were engaged to make arrangements for her particular components of the mission?

2.What was the total cost of those external consultants contracted by her department to assist with the trade mission?

3.How many extra external consultants for all the other ministers were used to put together their programs; and what was the cost of their participation?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:21 :43 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. I am not too sure what the honourable member means by 'external consultants'. I gather that means someone not part of the government. In terms of my own itinerary, I am not sure of any external consultants that were used, but I am happy to double-check that and bring back a response. The mission was an extremely successful delegation—

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: How do you know?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: —extremely successful. They say, 'How do I know?' and I am happy to outline how I do know that.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister has the floor.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I know interjections are out of order, but I am happy to outline how I do know that it was an extremely successful mission. It was the largest delegation South Australia has ever sent. We were received extremely well wherever we went. Our commitment resonated very well, and we were well received and our considerations and negotiations were progressed very quickly on a number of fronts.

First, I received a great deal of feedback from delegates, other government members and also private businesses, various organisations that were represented from the private sector and local government. There was a significant local government contingency, and the feedback was just marvellous. So those delegates who went there were reporting back a range of deals that were signed, sealed and delivered there and then.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: What were they?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I will get to that; I am happy to talk about that. Others progressed their negotiations significantly, and a wide range of commitments were established. A total of 21 MOUs were signed defining new areas for cooperation with business in terms of government administration, education, research and development.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Ridgway, if you want to ask a supplementary do so, but don't ask a question while the minister is giving you an answer.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: These agreements will result in new trade, investment and R&D activity between our regions, generating new jobs and wealth for South Australia. MOUs included:

a three-way agreement between the governments of South Australia, Shandong Province and the China Development Bank to find new ways of funding development;

an agreement between PIRSA and the Shandong department in terms of oceanic and fisheries to promote collaboration in fisheries, aquaculture and marine development; and

an agreement to establish a China-Australia joint innovation centre for cell therapy between the University of South Australia and Shandong University to give access to the China market for cell therapies developed at the University of South Australia.

In terms of the culture which I had quite a bit to do with on behalf of minister Snelling, the Adelaide Festival Centre and the Shandong Department of Culture signed a new MOU that will provide the opportunity for a South Australian cultural showcase to travel to Shandong in 2016. Many areas of opportunity were identified, and an agreement was struck for a commercial delivery of South Australia's cutting-edge one card library card system in Shandong.

In terms of agribusiness, food and wine, more than 50 of South Australia's leading agribusiness, food and wine companies worked together to lift the level of awareness of South Australia as a key trade and investment partner for Shandong businesses. In addition, a number of companies wrote new commercial deals. One Chinese dairy company signed an MOU for $20 million worth of investment in South Australia's dairy production. A South Australian company, Cleanseas, signed a new deal there at that time to supply 40 tonnes of bluefin tuna to China. At least three South Australian seafood companies made commercial progress towards the exported product.

Wine producers also found the mission highly successful. One company, Seppeltsfield, closed a deal there and then to supply 1.5 million litres of premium wine to the Chinese Nanshan Group annually. The Red Lion Boys wine group also sold wine during the mission, and there are many other examples as well.

I also want to quickly talk about education. South Australia's universities continued to build on their already strong connections with universities and research institutions in the Shandong province. At a government-to-government level, firm proposals were developed for professional development and cultural exchange programs, including the delivery of a program for visiting Shandong County Mayors in Adelaide in late 2015.

TAFE SA signed an MOU with Quingdao Number 6 High School, the city's top design school, to collaborate on courses providing pathways to university; and a private training group, Hessel Group, signed an MOU with leading childcare provider, PKU College in Beijing, to deliver training to teachers and principals working in preschools.

I could go through tourism, local government, health—the list is extremely long—but I've outlined just a couple of the key features and the key successful outcomes from that trip. As I said, the feedback from delegates—and I spoke to many of them while I was away—was extremely positive and they all agreed that it was a huge success and also that it was one of the best organised delegations that they had ever attended. That feedback was constant as well.

So, they were extremely pleased and very proud to be part of such an important delegation, because we know particularly in Asia and China that government imprimatur is extremely important to be able to progress private transactions. As I have outlined, a great deal of progress was made, with a number of successful outcomes already achieved and many in the pipeline.


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