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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1665


Mr MOORE(5.28) —The four Bills before the House, as the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Hurford) indicated, are related items. The first Bill deals with an amendment to the Industries Assistance Commission Act and bravely brings into force a decision made by the previous Government in relation to the period in which temporary assistance can be given, particularly in these economic times. For that reason, the Opposition will not be opposing the Bill.

The other three Bills before the House relate to Temporary Assistance Authority decisions asked for by various sectors of industry. The most notable aspect of these Bills is that in no case are the recommendations of the Temporary Assistance Authority being followed. In the first case, in relation to agricultural tractors, the Authority recommended that a loan be made available to Chamberlain John Deere Pty Ltd at concessional rates. The difficulties in which the company found itself revolved around the difficult economic times, the record drought and, on top of that, intensified import competition. While the Government accepted that some assistance should be given, it decided that this should be in the form of a doubled bounty payable to Chamberlain, the manufacturer of tractors in Australia. At the same time it placed an order for $ 2m with the Massey-Ferguson company in relation to overseas aid for Bangladesh. It seems to me that to give assistance by way of bounty payments to Chamberlain and then to give an order for 140 tractors to a company which does not produce them in Australia is, to say the least, an inconsistent approach by the Government. For that reason, I would like the Minister when he responds to rationalise that decision to give to one company assistance which could total $3 .4m and at the same time to give an order for $2m to a totally different company .

The second Bill in the package deals with bounty paid on tractor cabs. In this regard the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker), who is sitting behind me, has a particular interest because the one producer in this field is situated at Ararat which is in this electorate. I know he will wish to raise that matter in some detail. Again, the recommendation of the TAA was not followed and, as a consequence, the Government made a more beneficial grant to that company than was previously recommended. I will leave that matter for the honourable member for Wannon to follow up.

The third Bill is the Bounty (Injection-moulding Equipment) Amendment Bill. Once again, this does not follow the recommendation of the TAA but proposes a rather ingenious way to subsidise employment. In this case, when TAA assistance was sought, there were two producers in Australia. Since that time one has gone into receivership, leaving the one producer, Battenfeld (Australia) Pty Ltd, which operates in the Albury-Wodonga Area. The Government has decided to grant an additional bounty of 20 per cent to the company, providing it maintains the same level of employment for the next 12 months. I note in the papers provided that the cost of this is put at an extra $100,000. If the bounty goes up by 20 per cent-it was previously 15 per cent-and the cost last year was $686,583, how then will the extra 20 per cent cost only $100,000? Unless there is a dramatic fall-off in production-which I presume is the answer-there may well be some under-allowance in that area. Overall, it is an approach to bounty payment which is unrelated in the true sense of industry support but is wholly related to employment subsidisation. It is regrettable that industry assistance should be measured in that way, because it does nothing to ensure efficiency within the industry. I hope that when the IAC report in relation to this product comes out, it will point to the efficiencies in the industry and the terms of manufacture, rather than to a new form of employment subsidisation, which I do not believe is in the best interests of industry. With those few comments, I indicate that the Opposition will not oppose the Bills.