The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Speech

Friday, 18 November 2005                                                                                                                 

Opening of the Bundaberg Barrel

I’m delighted to be here to open the Bundaberg Barrel. It’s a new landmark for Bundaberg and a new landmark in the success of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

The barrel will attract tens of thousands of visitors a year, who’ll be able to see how you make your famous ginger beer and learn about the history of the ingredients that go into your products, like ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

The displays here mention the role of Marco Polo, the great explorer, in discovering the source of ginger in China. In his book, he recorded that you could buy eighty pounds of fresh ginger for the equivalent of a single silver coin from his home country, Venice.

No-one believed him. In his time, spices like ginger were astronomically expensive in Europe. They had to be carried across the Indian Ocean in Arab dhows and then through the desert by camel train.

Today, you don’t need to be a great explorer to find exotic spices. They’re in your ginger beer; lemon, lime and bitters; and other drinks.

As a result, you have doubled your number of staff in four years. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has become a great export success story, in a region that is noted for successful exporters, which also include Jabiru Aircraft and Austchilli.

The Australian Government is supporting you through Austrade, with introductions to buyers, trade shows and grants. Paul Neville recently opened the Bundaberg Export Hub, which will help more local companies take up the export challenge.

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks started exporting in 1987, with a shipment of ginger beer to New Zealand.

You now export almost a third of your production to 29 countries.

Over four years, your export sales have increased by 250 per cent, as more and more people have come to appreciate your combination of quality ingredients and traditional brewing skills.

It’s no wonder that Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is the 2005 Queensland Regional Exporter of the Year. The company is now a finalist in the Australian Export Awards, which I will present on the first of December.

These awards are the World Cup of Australian exporting. It’s a great achievement to make the finals, regardless of who wins in the end.

So I have a framed certificate here for Cliff Fleming and Gavin Paton, which recognises what all of you have achieved.

I understand your plans for the future include selling Bundaberg Ginger Beer in China, with sales in Hong Kong already.

In time, we could see Australian ginger beer sold in the same distant cities that Marco Polo once visited.

We won’t have to read travellers’ tales to find out what you have achieved. It will be visible here in Bundaberg, in the people you employ and your continued contribution to the region.

I am therefore very pleased to declare the Bundaberg Barrel open.

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