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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 202

Mr BARRY JONES (Minister for Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(10.08) —As we approach the witching hour of 10.15 p.m., I just want to make a few comments to wind up. In the debate there has been heavy concentration on the Australian Industry Development Corporation Amendment Bill and hardly any reference to the Commonwealth Guarantees (Charges) Bill. I thank honourable members for their contributions. I just want to correct and restate one or two points.

The AIDC paid up capital is now $100m, not $87.5m as stated by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore). An additional $12.5m was paid as of 30 June 1986. The functions of the AIDC are set out in the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act. They are to promote sound industry growth and Australian ownership in industry. The Corporation is required to perform these functions in accordance with sound business practice. The focus of the Corporation is somewhat different from that of a purely commercial institution, although the distinction may sometimes be a subtle one. The AIDC also makes direct contributions to specific industry programs-for example, the very important malaria joint venture involving the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, the recent heavy engineering package and the consequences of the restructuring of the textile, clothing and footwear industries.

The other point of correction is that the AIDC has not sent a submission to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button, seeking to be privatised, as was suggested earlier. The Corporation has sought additional capital from the Government and has made a number of suggestions if budgetary circumstances preclude such a capital contribution. One such suggestion involved seeking capital from the private sector in the form of a perpetual debt. However, no detailed proposal has been put to the Government. Of course, the point of seeking additional capital is to assist the Corporation in contributing to the Government's industry policy. Such capital would particularly assist the Corporation in financing the high risk, delayed earnings equity investment essential to industry restructuring and high technology industry. I endorse the remarks particularly of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall), the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Wright) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Allan Morris) when they referred to lost opportunities and the traditional conservatism of the banking system. I think we are going in the right direction now. I thank honourable members for their contribution and commend the Bill to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.