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Beattie steers drive for growth.

Queensland -- best known for its sun and beaches -- is expanding a campaign to sell its business and hi-tech credentials to Asia. State Premier PETER BEATTIE comments

Queensland is entering the new millennium armed with the human, natural and biological resources to stake its place in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the recent handing down of the 1999-2000 State Budget, Queensland is poised to invest in, and develop, these resources so we can enhance our reputation as the Smart State.

Asia is an increasingly competitive marketplace, and Queensland remains committed to building ties with the region while developing the capabilities and business environment to support our status as a preferred trading partner.

I have visited Japan, Hong Kong and China, while my Deputy Jim Elder has visited Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to strengthen trade and cultural ties.

We have received trade, government and cultural delegations from many Asian nations, and the Queensland Art Gallery is hosting the third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

I am visiting Japan once again in October to build on the partnerships which have made our relationship such a success. A focus of this trip will be meetings with key business partners in Japan, and to emphasise our capabilities in leading-edge and breakthrough industries.

I will also be opening Queensland's second trade office in Japan, linked to our Trade Commission in Tokyo.

A Queensland office in Osaka will strengthen the sister-state relationship with Osaka.

It will further tap the strong potential for investment from the many high-technology firms based in the Kansai region, especially those in information technologies, biotechnology and value-added food processing.

In addition, it will provide Queensland exporters with market intelligence about business opportunities in the Kansai region, and help to identify and bring together local exporters with Japanese importers and distributors.

During the visit I will take part in a Biotechnology Round Table presentation, and I hope to foster new links in this exciting sector.

The State Government has embarked on a A$270 million, 10-year plan to position Queensland as a biotechnology hub for the Asia-Pacific region.

We have also developed a range of measures to give Queensland the jump on the age of innovation.

Our Smart State initiatives include the biotechnology plan, which will create thousands of sustainable jobs long into the next century. During 1999-2000 alone, A$20 million will be allocated to major new biotechnological research centres being established in South East Queensland.

The A$100 million Institute for Molecular Bioscience, to be located at the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus, will be the largest biological research facility in Australia.

We are also supporting the development of a A$13 million Centre for Biomolecular Science and Drug Discovery at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus.

Over four years, we are contributing A$8 million for a technology incubator to help commercialise the centre's important research.

I intend that one of the legacies of this State Government will be the creation of tens of thousands of new knowledge-based jobs to ensure Queenslanders reap the rewards of the information economy.

This latest budget brings record expenditure on education and training programs which provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes required in the information economy.

A particular focus is the information technology and telecommunications sector, where we are funding a A$5.7 million strategy over four years to produce more of the highly skilled workers which this industry requires.

With our increasing reputation as an IT&T headquarters for Aus-tralia, and as a regional headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, the IT&T industry is our fastest-growing sector.

It grew by a massive 60 per cent in the 1997-98 financial year and contributed A$8 billion to the Queensland economy.

The 1999-2000 budget will provide investment in infrastructure and foster innovation in this vital industry.

The State Government will build upon Queensland's existing strengths through strategic investments that will ensure not only a flexible and confident workforce, but also a State that will be a fertile incubator for new industries, such as information technology and telecommunication and emerging industries such as biotechnology.

Over four years, A$13.9 million will be allocated to Co-operative Research Centres, along with support for the development of technology precincts and incubators. These measures will have a significant impact on the State's export industries.

While Queensland's exports have traditionally been based on raw commodities such as coal and sugar, we are striving to encourage growth among our innovative small- and medium-sized companies. A good sign is the record number of entries -- 86 for this year, compared with 64 last year -- in the 1999 Premier's Export Awards.

It shows the growing awareness among Queensland small- and medium-sized business of the importance of exports to their business growth, and to the State's economy.

The Department of State Development will continue to concentrate on supporting these companies in identifying and entering Asian markets.

We have already shown we can attract investment and international business to the State, partly because of our strategic location in relation to Asia and our business-friendly economic environment.

Confidence in the Queensland economy remains high as a result of the Government's ability to deliver both vision and stability, while at the same time remaining completely accountable.

We will build on this confidence by continuing to provide balanced budgets, preserving the State's AAA credit rating and maintaining Queensland's low-tax status.

Our Smart State initiatives are about investing in industries of the future, investing in infrastructure for those industries, and training our people to take advantage of the opportunities the new millennium offers.

These objectives are crucial to expanding and strengthening our business relationships with Asia, and ensuring Queensland's success in a highly competitive marketplace.
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Title Annotation:Peter Beattie, Queensland State Premier
Publication:Business Asia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 30, 1999
Words:946
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