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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 5425

Mr NEVILLE —My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade. Can the minister confirm that exporters are getting their maximum entitlements from the government under the export market development grants scheme? In particular, can he refer to those businesses in my electorate of Hinkler?

Mr TIM FISCHER (Trade; Deputy Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Hinkler for his question. He comes from an export zone of excellence and several companies are eligible under the EMDG scheme in his area. They are all helping to create jobs from exports, and some 204,000 in the direction of the electorate of Hinkler.

Let me confirm to the House that next week around 900 cheques will go out under the export market development grants scheme finalisation of arrangements for this financial year. I am pleased to announce that prudent management of the scheme has resulted in a full 100 per cent payout of the entitlements relevant to successful processed applicants. Also, for the first time ever, the tourism industry is getting a full rate of payment from the export market development grants scheme. In fact, there is some $20 million for the tourist industry.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr TIM FISCHER —Some interjections from the frontbench would indicate how little they know about this scheme.

Mr Crean —You cut it!

Mr TIM FISCHER —Yes, we did. We cut out some of the categories—like the one that saw a lady in Melbourne lift $500,000 out of the scheme without exporting one container. She did export herself to gaol. Let me tell you about another one. What about Labor's second cousin clause in the scheme? The second cousin clause allowed second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth cousins of exporters at the other end of the market overseas to come to Australia at taxpayers' expense and abuse the scheme. As a result, we cracked down on the abuse of the scheme that your sloppy management allowed for. So don't give me any cheek about cutting back the scheme.

We have an efficient and effective scheme that has overseen the performance of the export market development grants this year. Businesses are going to receive the assistance more quickly. The scheme is being run more efficiently. The grants are generating more exports per grant dollar for Australia than ever before. The export to grants ratio, which in 1996 was 30 to one, will rise to 36 to one this year. The results will also allow me to raise the initial payment for next year's grants from $50,000 to $60,000, giving approximately 200 additional businesses their full grants at the time of assessment without having to wait for distribution at the end of the year. We reformed the scheme. We have made it an effective scheme. We cut out the areas of abuse which Labor perpetrated.