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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 160

Senator PETER RAE(5.18) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I refer briefly to the effect of the Government's decision in relation to the Industries Assistance Commission report on computer hardware and software, typewriters, calculating and other office machines, parts and accessories, recording media, metal working machines tools and robots. The report was made in February this year. On 5 July this year the Government announced a decision which was stated in these terms:

The Government has taken action to reduce the price of computers to industry and consumers . . . A decision, which takes effect tomorrow, also will reduce the cost of office equipment and recording media such as video and audio cassettes.

The Government also took steps to reduce the duties which had previously been payable on various items of computer hardware, electronic microcircuits, office equipment and other such items. It took steps to protect the Australian industry and Australian manufacturers and to assist them in the development which is taking place. Some of it is taking place in a very significant way. I was impressed to find that one of the factories I visited recently was selling back its technology to its big parent company in the United States of America. This is an interesting stage of development. What is happening is a 25 per cent value added bounty will be payable by the Government to Australian manufacturers. The bounty is for systems design and systems software as well as production, for domestic or export sale, and is expected to cost about $7m. It is an interesting approach. It is one which the Opposition would not necessarily take, but it is certainly one which will reduce costs to consumers and still provide some encouragement to manufacturers to continue to develop in Australia. I hope that the stage will be reached, by the application of the sort of positive measures which we will introduce in government in relation to more flexible wages policies and other forms of encouragement to manufacturing industry, when the bounty will not be necessary in the longer term. However we will have to wait until after the next election before we have an opportunity to do that.

Question resolved in the affirmative.