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Wednesday, 5 October 1983
Page: 1376

Mr KERIN (Minister for Primary Industry)(4.40) —The Government rejects the Opposition's amendment. I have only just picked it up because the office of the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) would not give me a copy when I asked for one after 1 o'clock today. This is the first time that I have seen it. I am advised that the Opposition's amendment does not make sense. Directions given under proposed new section 24A (4) relate only to surpluses and deficits on export sales of dairy products whereas the amendment proposed by the Opposition concerns the dairy industry's investment in overseas companies. Proposed new sub-section 8 (a), as moved by the honourable member for Darling Downs, is simply unnecessary. With respect to proposed new sub-section 8 (b), I do not know what is being done in any case. It seems that the honourable gentleman fails to understand exactly what the Bill before the House is about. It deals with other questions raised by other honourable members in the debate. The Dairying Industry Stabilisation Fund mechanism or facility is already in place if needed. There is no way that this adds to or takes away from powers because I do not think there is any automaticity in any case as to what I should or should not do. Of course, there will be full consultation.

I think the Opposition's amendment is put forward on the assumption that the PT Australia Indonesia Milk Industries Inc. will collapse. The Opposition is trying to get around it by trying to frame some sort of legislation in anticipation of a collapse. The present Bill relates only to surpluses and deficits on trading by the Australian Dairy Corporation. As the honourable member for Darling Downs noted in his earlier comments in the debate, the return on the ADC's equity into PTI have been returned to the DISF. Hence it is logical that any losses of equity-that is, non-trading losses-should be borne by the DISF. So the amendment that I have put before the House does not in itself prevent action, if it is considered appropriate, to offset trading losses, for example, the DISF sources. We are only talking about possible losses. I understand the motivations of the Opposition in this matter but, by and large, as I have said, its amendment is either plainly unnecessary in one case or simply does not make any sense in the other. I would have valued having a copy of the amendment to enable me to give a little more consideration to it, but the Government rejects it.

Amendments negatived.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.