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Thursday, 12 December 1996
Page: 7444

Senator MURRAY(11.56 p.m.) —In the interests of time, I seek leave to incorporate my remarks on this in Hansard . The Democrats will be supporting the government.

Leave granted.

The remarks read as follows—


The Democrats will be supporting the Government amendment and we are very pleased that the Government has moved it. In our discussions with the Government today, the Democrats indicated that our primary concern with respect to the cut-off for applications for the R&D concession is to ensure that those syndicates who are quite advanced in the approval process are allowed to proceed.

Much expense is involved in getting to an approval, with each stage of the IR&D Board process requiring a great deal of work.

The approach which we discussed with the Government today and which is picked up in this motion is consistent with the approach the Democrats took with the previous Government last year when it moved to cut off access to the R&D concession for tax-exempt researchers. Again, our concern there was that applicants well advanced in the approval process should be allowed to proceed, but those who had barely applied should be excluded.

It has to be remembered that there is no "right" which is being taken away here. The Parliament has decided that it is no longer appropriate policy that syndicates have access to this concession. This transitional arrangement is only about at what point the gate should be shut.

We believe that the amendment moved by Senator Cook cuts it off too late. The Government has advised us that the vast bulk of the 120 outstanding applicants would proceed under that process. The ALP disputes this, arguing that the application of the new finance guidelines will cut this figure by more than half. I am quite concerned about the uncertainty about this.

I have been advised by the Government that about 16 or so applications are at the advanced stage of having applied for registration. Those 16 companies have been through the hoops and should not be disadvantaged. But, that is where the door should shut.

Even this amendment will cost $160 million over 4 years, and to open up the door further will add significantly to the cost of closing down what we believe has been shown to be a concession not working properly in relation to syndicates.

As I said, the approach in the amendment which we have developed with the Government is entirely consistent with the Democrats approach last year when the previous Government moved to cut off access to the concession for tax exempt research and I commend this amendment to the Senate.