Hansard: Victorian Parliament.
26 May 2011 COUNCIL
Biotechnology: advisory council
Mrs PEULICH (South Eastern Metropolitan) -- My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Technology, my South Eastern Metropolitan Region colleague the Honourable Gordon Rich-Phillips. I ask: can the minister update the house on progress in implementing the Baillieu government's commitment to create a Victorian biotechnology advisory council?
Hon. G. K. RICH-PHILLIPS (Minister for Technology) -- I thank Mrs Peulich for her question and for her interest in the biotechnology industry. Biotechnology and life sciences have been a great success story for Victoria. It is an area where much research has been undertaken over the last decade and where Victoria has achieved a number of great successes, with companies like CSL and Biota, among others. It is an area where the Victorian government sees great potential for the future.
It is a sector that has contributed, particularly in the life sciences area, around $1.7 billion a year in goods exports, and it is a sector that turns over around $10 billion a year and employs around 10 000 people. So it is an important sector of the Victorian economy, and the Baillieu government is very keen to see that sector of the economy grow and develop further.
The sector has had a very strong research capability and has developed a number of world-leading research technologies in the biotech sector, but one of the great challenges for the sector now is to move into a commercialisation phase. This is an area where the government sees great potential for the biotechnology and life sciences sector -- to see some of the world-leading research that is undertaken in this state developed to a commercialisation stage.
Prior to the election the coalition committed to the establishment of a Victorian biotechnology advisory council.
I am delighted to inform the house that the first Baillieu budget has delivered upon that commitment in full, with funding of $1.2 million over the coming four-year forward estimates period for the establishment of the Victorian biotechnology advisory council. This council will, for the first time, establish a direct and ongoing dialogue between government and the biotechnology sector. Within Victoria we have a very strong sector that is already well networked within the sector. The biotechnology advisory council will for the first time establish a direct and continuing link between the sector and government. We see this as a very important step in ensuring that government has direct access to policy advice from the sector, so we know what the issues are in terms of commercialisation and further development of the sector and we can respond to emerging issues in the commercialisation area, as well as in skills development and the retention and development of people with appropriate technical skills for the biotechnology sector.
Now that the funding has been provided through the budget I look forward to the establishment of the Victorian biotechnology advisory council. The government will be seeking public expressions of interest in the next couple of months for membership of the biotech advisory council. I look forward to working with the new biotech advisory council for the advancement of the biotech sector in Victoria.