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The expo aims to expose Australia's products and services to Asian markets and highlight Australia's many business opportunities. The expo is about networking, opening doors and building relationships with Australia's Asian neighbours. In many respects, the ACT is a young but increasingly important player in Asian markets. Companies like Hassall and Associates and the Hindmarsh Group, to name two, are becoming increasingly active. The expo was therefore an important forum in which to learn from our Territory, State and Commonwealth colleagues and to explore strategic relationships with Asia's expanding markets. As you are all aware, Asia will be increasingly important to Australia's economic wellbeing. The ACT has a lot to offer and a lot to gain from being involved in that marketplace, but we have to be in it to win it and we have to be in it for the long haul. That is the message I want to reinforce today.
The Northern Territory Expo hosted some 28,000 attendees, 700 international visitors, 23 international stands and 160 Australian exhibitors. The countries represented included China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei - all enormous and growing markets. Importantly, Mr Speaker, I had the opportunity to meet senior representatives of their public and private sectors and to start their education on the national capital. Mr Speaker, one of the main activities I undertook at the expo was a press conference attended by some 250 guests, where I presented Canberra's business credentials, focusing on our strengths in education, advanced technology and tourism and our status as the national capital. The conference also involved presentations by Senator the Hon. Bob McMullan, Commonwealth Minister for Trade; the Hon. Shane Stone, Chief Minister for the Northern Territory; the Hon. John Olsen, South Australian Minister for Industry; and the Hon. Hendy Cowan, Western Australian Deputy Premier. All of these Ministers and the jurisdictions they represent have been long involved in the Asian market, and the expo was a good opportunity to “stand by their side”.
Mr Speaker, one of the most valuable outcomes of the visit was an intention to work together to bid for projects in Asia. The Northern Territory has invested considerable time and effort to establish a strong network of contacts in Asia, and Shane Stone is certainly interested in, and recognises the mutual benefits of, working with the ACT to develop stronger commercial ties. The ACT has particular expertise in education and advanced technology which would supplement the Northern Territory's strengths in resources, livestock and primary products. By working together, our collective bargaining power is much greater and we will be working with government and business to produce some very solid project proposals. As I said, Mr Speaker, we have to be in it to win it.
I think there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from the Northern Territory in its marketing approach. They are aggressive, into joint ventures and in for the long haul. They have invested considerable time and money to produce a professional marketing image, researched their markets and maintained a constant, unrelenting drive. They clearly work closely with the private sector - a philosophy shared by this Government and fundamental to any marketing push.