Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 1527..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I went there with the Malaysian high commissioner and several other people in a short but very productive visit to investigate and study the potential links between Malaysia and ACT businesses. I came away realising that it is a place with a lot of potential for us here in the ACT. There are a lot of synergies, but in terms of investing it has some obvious advantages. We have historical ties with Malaysia that go back to before World War II, and after World War II Australian troops were fighting there against the communist insurgency during the emergency and then in confrontation.
The population is very similar, and that is a real plus for Canberra's small to medium-sized businesses. In larger countries like China, by contrast, such a business would find itself routinely dealing with mega corporations 50 times its size, but when the parties are well matched individual firms have a lot more bargaining power or leverage. Everyone speaks English in Malaysia, and that is another big positive. Malaysia is also a very important hub for the Muslim world and all the trade that that brings which you would not find in other places.
Last year there was a huge jump in Australian investment in Malaysia, with two Australian resource companies setting up headquarters there. In 2006 there was $11.5 billion in trade between Malaysia and Australia, with some $5.8 billion in merchandise exported from Malaysia to Australia and $3.1 billion from Australia to Malaysia. They have a very strong manufacturing sector. Imports from Australia are predominantly in agrifood-related trade, followed by metals and resources. There is also $2.6 billion trade in services between the countries.
Recently I held a media conference here. The Malaysian trade commissioner and the Malaysian investment consul came to that, along with Mr Chris Peters from the chamber of commerce. The next step will be a meeting, which I think will be hosted by the Malaysian high commissioner and organised by Mr Chris Peters, by way of a follow-up. I have included the list of business contacts I made in my study report and sent copies to the ACT government. I would be delighted if the government's agencies followed up those contacts and progressed any good opportunities for the ACT that may have arisen from the trip.
Several of the companies I talked to there, and several of the businesspeople particularly, were interested in investing in Canberra. They were interested in all sorts of things—even major investments like potentially the construction of a new dam and major buildings that might be occurring in the ACT. We have some very good opportunities there. There are some particular areas where ACT businesses can follow through in Malaysia. In certain areas they are very keen to do business with us.
All in all, there are some great opportunities there for the ACT. I encourage the ACT government to follow up the contacts I made. Obviously there will be further contacts made as a result of Mr Peters and the Malaysian high commissioner hosting a number of Canberra businesses as an initial follow-up to the benefits which I hope will flow from my trip.
Rally of Canberra
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.13): Tonight I would like to talk about the Rally of Canberra, a topic that I am very passionate about, as I am sure my fellow Assembly