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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 247

Senator KILGARIFF —Is the Minister for Finance aware of criticism concerning lengthy delays in the processing of proposals to the Foreign Investment Review Board, and does the Minister accept that such delays will lead to a reduction in the amount of foreign capital available to encourage development and provide much needed employment opportunities? Can the Minister say whether the reports of processing delays are fair and accurate, and if they are, what steps are being taken to facilitate speedier processing of those proposals? Will the Minister provide statistics showing the number of proposals put to the Foreign Investment Review Board over the past two years and the time it has taken to process these proposals?

Senator WALSH —I will just sort out some of the factual confusion. This question, because it concerns the Foreign Investment Review Board, ought to have been addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, which is me as it was in the previous Parliament. I do not have any knowledge of recent complaints about delays but it is quite possible that there are complaints but without my being aware of them or of the length of time for which particular applications may have been held up. Senator Kilgariff suggested that some action should be taken to expedite the processing of these applications. I suppose that is not a bad idea, but I hope he is not suggesting that we should expedite foreign investment by the means employed by the former Chief Minister of the Territory he represents. This expedition of foreign investment included the expropriation of property and the illegal advancing of bridging finance by the Northern Government to the foreign beneficiary of the property which had been expropriated from the previous owner.