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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1671


Mrs KELLY(6.05) —I rise to speak in a relevant way to the Bill which, honourable members will be surprised to know, is the Industries Assistance Commission Amendment Bill. I believe it will be welcomed by all industry groups. Australian industries have faced a very difficult business climate for a number of years. I believe that is being alleviated now that we have a Labor Government . I congratulate the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown), in his capacity as Minister assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce, for introducing the measures before us today. They, along with all the other administrative actions taken by the Government, will be of great assistance to industry and will be well received throughout the country.

The Bill provides for the extension of temporary assistance for a total of three years without need for a report from the Industries Assistance Commission. However, a report from the Temporary Assistance Authority is still required annually and other administrative amendments are there to ensure accountability. It is essential that these initiatives be seen in perspective. These measures do not represent an increase in protection; they are a response to short term economic needs and have been necessitated by the general downturn in industry and the economy in recent years under the previous administration. In this context, an easing of the arrangements for granting temporary assistance is a responsible move which will be of great benefit to many industries. In recent years, the sharp increase in dumping in Australian markets has also caused great problems. The provisions of this Bill will be of some assistance in this respect .

The Industry and Commerce annual report of 1981-82 indicates that the number of dumping complaints has increased substantially. It outlines increasing work loads and streamlining procedures which are necessary to deal with this matter. The legislation before us is really seen to be complementary with the administrative arrangements that are being taken to overcome the dumping problem . The Government is very concerned about the extent of dumping. The provisions of this Bill will be definitely complementary to the measures being undertaken.

As we all know, IAC references have provided a large number of very valuable reports on a wide range of industries. There is no intention in this Bill to reduce the Commission's work in this area. Rather, the measures being taken today represent a temporary departure only from established practices and have been made necessary by the downturn in the general economic situation. It is clear that increased protection is not the answer to economic problems facing Australian industries. Rather, general restructuring will be required in many areas if we are to meet the challenge of the 1980s and beyond.

In Australia protection is afforded to industry by very visible methods. I believe bounties are much more preferable to tariffs. It should be commended that we do have these visible measures so that the taxpayers and industries generally are aware of the consequences and the costs of protection. In France, for example, video units have no duty or quota. The one point of entry has only two officers working on it. This system, though it does not have visible methods of protection, works much more to the detriment of industry. People are not being informed of the cost of protection.

Understandably in times of economic downturn there is a tendency to return to greater protective measures. This increases as there is a greater pressure for more jobs. Most frequently the protectionist trend occurs in almost invisible, surreptitious ways. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has reported on the steady creep of small protectionist measures and the proliferation of administrative and legal obstacle to trade. This occurs in not only domestic markets but also international trade.

The measures before us today must be seen as temporary ones and must be seen in the Government's overall commitment to developing Australian industry in the interests of Australia as a whole at the same time as protecting jobs. The arguments in favour of reduced trade barriers have been thoroughly canvassed in this place and others. I am sure that most people are aware of them. There are plenty of historical examples both within Australia and overseas to illustrate the economic problems and stagnation that results from continual government subsidies and assistance to industry.

This Government is promoting soundly based industry and business policies which will stimulate balanced growth and enlarge employment opportunities. This will ensure a firm foundation for prosperous economic growth in the years ahead. The taxpayers' dollar will be spent more wisely on assistance to industry. We welcome these measures and hope that industry in the years to come will be in a situation where it will not need this sort of assistance. I believe the Government is beginning to start a very constructive role in ensuring that we have a balanced private sector in this country.