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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2788


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(5.55) —I speak to the motion in the absence of Senator Peter Rae who is indisposed and away from the Senate today. I agree with the commendation at the beginning of the statement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) as to the great significance of the report of the review of the Industries Assistance Commission conducted by Mr Uhrig. All I wish to do at this stage is to put on record a statement which has been prepared by my colleague Senator Peter Rae. With respect to the Government's response to the review of the IAC, Senator Peter Rae said:

The Opposition welcomes the general thrust of the Government's decision in relation to the Review of the Industries Assistance Commission. This Review was conducted by Mr John Uhrig, Chief Executive of Simpson Holdings Limited. It was both a timely and in-depth examination.

The Opposition is disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to maintain the full independence of the Commission by allowing it to retain the power to initiate its own inquiries. Although the power has not been formerly used, its existence guaranteed a degree of independence.

The move to make the Industries Assistance Commission inquiries 'industry wide' is a move in the right direction, but in terms of today's real world of international trade, industry wide really means industry wide-world wide.

The Government has referred to the fact that it proposes to reduce reliance on the tariff, and this is a move in the right direction. However, it does not appear that the Government has adequately addressed the relationship between the structure of industry as opposed to the economics of industry. The structure of industry must be viewed in terms which compare it to its world competitors. The real world is full of protective provisions, providing particular industries with advantages by way of subsidies (sometimes hidden), export incentives, tax holidays, special standards to provide protection to local industries, and a whole wide cross-section of other such measures. We are not competing in a perfect world.

For this Government to produce a statement on the Uhrig Review and the future of the Industries Assistance Commission without reference to the relevance of wages policies and the tremendous impact which this can have on competitiveness, lends to the statement an aura of unreality-an Alice in Wonderland overlay.

The Government does not appear to have adequately dealt with the Report's recommendations relating to anti-dumping measures.

The Opposition welcomes the moves to reduce the cost of the Industries Assistance Commission procedure, and also the recognition that the change in approach by the Industries Assistance Commission must be an evolving one. The Opposition believes that the whole of these questions must be viewed in the context of the creation of jobs, and that can only take place through the creation of a competitive position for Australian trade.

The Government does not appear to have adequately acknowledged this essential element.

That statement has been put out on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Rae. I am sure that this very important matter is one which a number of senators will wish to debate at a later time, and at this stage I seek leave to continue my remarks .

Leave granted; debate adjourned.