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Tuesday, 24 June 1997
Page: 6162


Mr PROSSER (Minister for Small Business and Consumer Affairs)(6.20 p.m.) —On behalf of the committee appointed to draw up reasons for the House disagreeing to amendments Nos 2 to 7 of the Senate, I present the reasons, which have been circulated to honourable members.

The reasons read as follows

Senate Amendment Number 2

This Amendment requires the minister to present to both Houses of Parliament, for any proposed change in rates or cessation of bounties covered by this act, a cost-benefit analysis of relevant bounties, including assessments of the impact on employment, exports, investments, growth and international competitiveness.

Processes already exist whereby this type of information and analysis is available—for example, through reviews requested by the government from the Industry Commission and other review panels on specific industries and on broad industry policy directions.

The House of Representatives therefore opposes the proposed Amendment.

Senate Amendment Numbers 3, 4 and 5

These Amendments remove the provision for early termination of the Book Bounty (on 30 June 1997) such that termination reverts to 31 December 1997 as provided for under the Bounty (Books) Act 1986. The early termination of the Bounty was announced by the government in the 1996-97 budget as part of its strategy of fiscal consolidation.

While the book printing and publishing sectors have derived significant benefits from the bounty in the past, this has been within an environment of declining rates of assistance—for example, the bounty has declined from 20 per cent in 1987 to 4.5 per cent on 1 January 1997. Over this period, bountiable production has increased. Removal of the 4.5 per cent bounty six months ahead of time should not have significant adverse impacts on the printing and publishing sectors. Accordingly, the House of Representatives opposes Amendment Numbers 3, 4 and 5.

Senate Amendments Numbers 6 and 7

These amendments remove the provision for early termination of the Computer Bounty, on 30 June 1997, such that the termination date reverts to 31 December 2000 as provided for under the Bounty (Computers) Act 1984. The early termination of the Bounty was announced by the government in the 1996-97 budget as part of its strategy of fiscal consolidation.

Significant savings accrue to the budget arising from the decision to terminate the Bounty early. The government has also initiated a major review of the information technology industry. The Information Industries Taskforce has been asked to advise on measures that will ensure that the information industries sector will be able to take advantage of emerging opportunities, including in the context of the early termination of the Computer Bounty.

Given that the bounty has been paid at a gradually declining rate, currently at 5 per cent, that its impact on achieving industry development objectives has declined in importance and that the government's priority is to undertake a more comprehensive review of future strategies for the information technology industry, the Computer Bounty should be terminated on 30 June 1997. The House of Representatives therefore opposes Amendment Numbers 6 and 7.

Motion (by Mr Prosser) agreed to:

That the committee's reasons be adopted.