7 Days, 4 Countries, 4 Cities, 4 Clusters and Useless AusTrade

Just got back from a busy week of doing stuff in this boiler room of the world we call Asia. Installed 4 clusters for some clients in Korea and HK and then made it to a tech and trade conference in Dong Guan, southern China.

Most of it went well until we got to the AusTrade pimped trade show. I will just copy and paste the email that I sent to my cousin (Mitch Fifield) who is a federal Senator in Australia. A few of us are also going to be writing to Aus Trade directly as well. In a nutshell – more proof of how useless most government funded initiatives are and how it is just a waste of tax dollars.

G’Day Mitch,

Hope all is well down under. I must apologise for the dreary nature of the email that this is and I know it is not your area of responsibility and indeed we will be making a formal complaint via the correct AusTrade channels to register our dissatisfaction.

In a nutshell my company which sells and resells a lot of Australian invented IT technology in China is currently in attendance at the 3C trade show in Dong Guan southern China.

Today my assistant had her purse stolen with camera, phone and money from a secure area under a table at our booth. Where the dissatisfaction with AusTrade comes in is that they organised and solicited us to present at the conference. When I arrive here, I then find out that Dong Guan is the crime capital of China. With muggings, car jacking and drive by attacks a daily affair. Our taxi driver from ShenZhen was even scared to drop us off here.

While AusTrade should be commended for helping to grow Australian Business in China, it is incumbent on them to also look out for our interests. While they spend a good sum of tax dollars on fancy booths and arranging for official photographers, it would have been more appropriate had they spent some money on hiring private security to help protect and oversee the sizeable and fluid Australian Booth area.

While erected road signs of Kangaroo and Koala road crossings are all well and nice. One is unable to conduct business and liaise with potential customers and trade partners when they need to keep one eye on their belongings – in this crime capital of China. Numerous people have had stuff stolen already today – the police station in the hall was flooded by 10AM – 1 hour into commencement.

While personal property protection is ultimately a private responsibility. The situation annoys me as an example of government incompetence. The information asymmetry regarding the risk levels in Dong Guan is inexcusable. We should have been made aware before we arrived. The lack of security personal is also a major oversight.

The tax money spent by Austrade would certainly yield a better return if used in the form of grants to businesses than what is going on here now. Please let me know if there is anyone else I can or should contact on a personal level to help ensure some benefit for future Australian businesses that decide to deal with AusTrade. Whether we will again – who knows.


What really bummed me out is the lack of focus in the efforts of Austrade. They made ICT or IT into some meta-umbrella label that also includes the kitchen sink. Asked why not make it more focused we received the answer “Because we’d have less exhibitors then”. Great so you drag us all out, waste money and no one goes home with anything – except a bad taste in their mouths

Wouldn’t it be better if only a few of us went and we actually got some traction and meaning out of it all? Oh no. The KPI used by AusTrade is how many exhibitors show up and spend their time and money to do so. Not how many actual exhibitors walk away with new business or potential trading partners. I wonder if the consulate in Guangzhou has some other inventive performance metrics like the number of toilet paper rolls used in the consulate to determine their operational success?

At least we had Kangaroo and Koala road signs….good to see that AusTrade has their priorities straight and knows how to focus and highlight the really important aspects of Australian businessnes. How does the rest of the world trade without Koala’s and Kangaroo’s?