The State Liberals have described the Weatherill Government’s latest foray into South East Asia as a re-run of previous broken promises on trade.
Following the Hartley Review in 2012, the State Labor Government closed nine of South Australia’s overseas trade offices, including in Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam, to save more than $2 million.
At the time, then Minister for Trade said: "It's about having people embedded in Austrade offices and leveraging off already-big federal investments in property, equipment and contacts." (ABC, 1 May 2012)
Yesterday, the Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith announced he was visiting Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to discuss embedding staff into the network of Austrade offices.
“What has the Weatherill Government been doing for South Australia’s trade representation for the last three years?” asked Shadow Minister for Investment and Trade Tim Whetstone.
“South Australia has withdrawn its international presence over the past three years despite a promise of a larger investment to embed staff in Austrade offices.
“South Australia now has just one stand-alone trade office in the world, located in Jinan, China, and embedded Austrade officers only in Hong Kong and Mumbai,” Mr Whetstone said.
“In 2013-14, South Australia spent about $850,000 on overseas offices and officers embedded in Austrade, well below the $2.8 million once spent on international representation.”
Mr Whetstone said while other states were boosting international presence, South Australia was withdrawing its.
“Creating relationships with export partners is a lengthy process that requires long term investment and the Weatherill Labor Government has closed offices in our biggest export countries, all while other states have increased their international office holdings and presence,” said Mr Whetstone.