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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1477

Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(10.02) —Senator Chaney has raised a number of issues regarding the operation of proposed new sections 26F and 26K. I think they were the two main points he used to illustrate a general point. In a sense this legislation is conferring benefits. It is saying that sums of money will be available to a company and that the benefits are conferred on the basis that the company complies with a number or requirements. To be eligible for the benefits the company is being asked as a company to comply with the requirements. That point is important to remember in the general context of the legislation. I do not think the provisions of this legislation can be viewed in quite such a strict legal context as is perhaps sometimes given to them.

In regard to proposed new section 26K, Senator Chaney referred to the expression that an action by an applicant 'constitutes an attempt to abuse the Act', and asked properly what is an abuse of the Act. I understand that this legislation is very much based on the Australian industrial research and development incentives scheme legislation which was introduced by the previous Government. I am told by the draftsman that the expression 'abuse' as is used here is a term of art. It has been used in a number of pieces of legislation, including not only the AIRDIS legislation but also the National Health Act 1953 and the Export Market Development Grants Act 1974. Senator Chaney suggested in a sense what I, if I might say so with respect, thought was probably a more elegant phrase, but that was how the phrase got into the legislation. I think his objection was to the tone of the expression rather than to the content. I really cannot take the matter any further than that at this stage.

I come back to the points which are being made generally. The scheme embodied in this amendment to the Automotive Industry Authority Act is a scheme which is basically part of a total package designed to confer benefits. One is dealing with a very difficult, fragmented industry. The essential point is that if those benefits are to be available, there must be compliance about a number of things. Need I remind Senator Chaney of the history of this industry and the non-compliance with requirements of previous governments about imported componentry, transfer pricing and a whole range of issues historically in which there has been non-compliance by sections of this industry? I think it is important to look at the matter in that context.