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Wednesday, 5 October 1983
Page: 1370


Mr JOHN BROWN (Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, Minister for Administrative Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce)(4.02) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Bounty (Agricultural Tractors) Amendment Bill 1983 proposes a doubling of the existing bounty assistance to the industry producing agricultural wheeled tractors and their derivatives which have a power of not less than fifteen kilowatts at the power take-off. The additional bounty is intended as short term assistance for a period of twelve months.

The Temporary Assistance Authority, in its report of 31 March 1983 on agricultural wheeled tractors, found that the market for agricultural tractors started to decline in 1981-82 and deteriorated sharply in the six months to December 1982 because of the drought and depressed economic conditions. At the same time Chamberlain John Deere Pty Ltd, which was the only remaining major local manufacturer, suffered a significant decline in profitability and production levels. The TAA considered that a significant cause of this injury was the increased imports in 1981-82 surplus to market demand. The Authority concluded that there was a case for temporary assistance pending the outcome of an immediate review by the Industries Assistance Commission. That review is now in progress. The Government will decide its long term policy for this industry when that report is received. The TAA formally recommended no temporary assistance, but suggested that a loan of about $6m on concessional terms be made to Chamberlain John Deere.

The Government announced on 10 June 1983 that temporary assistance would be granted in the form of a doubled bounty. A loan as suggested by the TAA was considered inappropriate as it would do little to improve the industry's competitive position against imports and could simply lead to further manufacture adding to existing excessive stocks. The Government considers that the bounty as proposed by this Bill will not only assist the industry to sell its output but will restore effective assistance to the industry to about the level intended by the Industries Assistance Commission when the present bounty was introduced. When the Government's decision was taken, it was estimated at that time that the additional bounty assistance could cost up to $3.4m in a full year, depending on levels of sales. However, the actual cost is now likely to be significantly less in view of the current depressed market conditions.

Clause 5 of the Bill amends the provisions in the Act relating to the powers to require persons to answer questions and produce documents to exclude specifically persons, including members of the public, who purchase tractors for their own use, from being required to attend and answer questions. This is being done as a consequence of the comments by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills in its second report, relating to similar provisions contained in the bounty legislation which came before the Parliament in the previous sittings. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Braithwaite) adjourned.