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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2316


Mr MOORE(4.33) —The Bounty (Room Air Conditioners) Amendment Bill supports the decision of the Temporary Assistance Authority in its recommendations of October 1982 and gives support to an industry which certainly has found itself in some difficulties in recent years. Originally Kelvinator Australia Ltd approached the previous Government, and through a Trans Australia Airlines reference in October 1982 a similar bounty was made payable to the company. On this particular occasion the TAA report has not only recommended the continuation of the payment; the Government has gone further insofar as it has imposed a quota applicable to imports which is 55 per cent of that pertaining to the 1982-83 calendar year. In relation to that, the principle of imposing quotas retrospectively is something with which businesses would quibble. I have always been implacably opposed to anything retrospectively imposed which imposes a penalty. If it is retrospective in terms of a handout or benefit, I guess it is done with everyone's eyes open.

The position of Kelvinator has deteriorated quite dramatically. Production in 1981-82 was some 59,356 units, whereas the estimated production for 1982-83 appears to be about 24,800 units-quite a substantial decline in this area. Needless to say, this has had a dramatic effect on the financial position of Kelvinator. I suppose that such a production fall would substantially affect unit costs, as production costs on the declining turnover would inevitably rise. If we look at the market place, we find that sales of air-conditioning components in 1982 reached a level of 261,000 and in the nine months to the end of March 1983 were already running at 216,000. The most evident fact is that local production as a percentage of sales has declined from 60,000 out of 261, 000 units to 22,000 out of 216,000 units. It is quite evident that the Government took this into consideration in bringing in the quotas as well as the bounty payment.

It is noted that the advice to the company is that the bounty assistance will be applicable until 30 June 1984; in other words, it is a sink or swim situation after that time. I should draw attention to some of the comments made by the Government about employment when it was in opposition. I will not go down that alley because I happen to think that industries in Australia have to compete and have to meet competition, providing it is fair. It is because of that view that I have always thought that the dumping provisions are the ones that should be looked at and that a company should be given an opportunity to restructure, meet competition and make its investments, but in no circumstances should it be looking for an everlasting handout. For that reason, I think that the approach taken in this Bill seems to be fair and because of that, the Opposition will not oppose the Bill.