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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1453

Senator ARCHER(3.07) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The Export Development Grants Board annual report for 1983-84 again reflects the fact that we should pay tribute to the service provided by the Board and the high calibre of its members and staff. The Grants Board has performed a very great function in the last few years and has given considerable assistance to a very wide range of people who have become interested and involved in the export market. This country, being a trading nation, by what it produces and by its geographic location depends very heavily on the productive sector and on the exporters in that sector. I am extremely concerned to see that in the allocation of funds for 1984-85, as per Budget Paper No. 1, on page 209, undetermined claims before the Board as at 30 June 1985 could amount to as much as $95m. This is almost twice as much as that carried over from the previous year, when it was $57m. This is a very serious trend and it certainly gives some credence to the general rumour that it is part of the attitude of the Government to dispense with the scheme, the Board and the lot. I believe that it would be a disastrous state of affairs if the Board were disbanded and the effort that has gone into establishing the system up to this stage were interfered with in any way.

In support of that, we also know that the Board has been required to reduce staff to 81 staff years in the current financial year. This will mean that the delays are going to be greater and that the likelihood of the scheme falling into disrepute will be even greater. This adds even more credence to the rumour that this Board is due for destruction. It is quite difficult to understand why the Government would feel that an organisation such as this should be targeted for this sort of treatment. If we are to become any sort of a force in the world it will be only by encouraging people to export and by giving those exporters the encouragement that an organisation such as this is able to provide.

Question resolved in the affirmative.