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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1478


Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(10.08) —Before I go to the amendment to clause 8, I wish to say one further thing about Senator Chaney's last remark about whether an abuse of the legislation or a breach of the legislation would be the more appropriate terminology. He referred to value judgments and objective judgments. The fact is that the Authority will be making subjective judgments about these things because this legislation is legislation about implementation of a policy. The Automotive Industry Authority Act and this amending Bill are designed to implement a policy on a wide range of issues. It might be said that any legislation is designed to implement a policy, but in some ways it is in a different sense in this legislation. One can look at some pieces of legislation and say that they confer rights and obligations which are capable of objective determination. It is quite clear that some things in the development of the motor vehicle plan involve value judgments about the directions in which this industry has to go, about the state of technology in the industry, and about the desirable levels of competition and of co-operation-a whole range of issues. I think there is a different character in a sense about these provisions from those which one would normally find in legislation dealing with other matters.

I turn to the Government's amendments to clause 8. The first proposes to add at the end of proposed new section 26B a new sub-clause (2) which reads:

Where, within the period of 12 months commencing on the day on which a declaration under this section in respect of an Australian company came into force, that company did not enter into a grant agreement, the Authority may, by resolution, revoke that declaration.

There is a further amendment to which I will refer conjointly with the amendment I have just read. The amendments propose to rectify two anomalies discovered in clause 8 of the Bill after its introduction in this place. The first amendment proposes to place a time limit on eligible company declarations that may be made by the Automotive Industry Authority under proposed new section 26B. The Government believes that such declarations should not be allowed to run on for an unlimited period. Companies which wish to be declared an eligible company should, in the Government's view, be bona fide in their intention to enter into an agreement for a project grant under this scheme at an early date. The amendment therefore proposes to permit the Authority to revoke an eligible company declaration if the company does not enter into a project grant agreement within 12 months from the date of the declaration.

The second amendment is designed to ensure that only financial assistance provided by governments will be taken into account by the Authority in determining the level of support provided to a project. It has been brought to my attention that the provisions of proposed new section 26J, as currently drafted, may have the effect of including equity funding as financial assistance. They may also, for example, include loans obtained by companies from financial institutions for the purpose of carrying out an automotive development project. It is not the Government's intention that the Automotive Industry Authority should reduce the amount of any grant provided to a company where such funding practices are involved. In other words, it is designed to ensure that it can make its own efforts in addition to the provision of assistance by the Government in respect of a particular project. The amendment therefore deletes any reference to other than government financial assistance. I apologise to honourable senators for not having had those amendments circulated, but I think they are probably fairly clear in the context.


The CHAIRMAN —Do you wish to move those two amendments together? There being no objection, leave is granted.


Senator BUTTON —I move:

(1) Page 5, clause 8, at the end of proposed new section 26B, add the following sub-section:

'' '(2) Where, within the period of 12 months commencing on the day on which a declaration under this section in respect of an Australian company came into force, that company did not enter into a grant agreement, the Authority may, by resolution, revoke that declaration'.''

(2) Page 8, clause 8, lines 34 and 35, leave out ''another person or body'', insert ''a Territory''.