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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2704

Senator SIDDONS(8.15) —I appreciate Senator Chaney's support in principle of our amendments but I am afraid that the logic of what he says insofar as the way the Opposition is going to vote on the amendments escapes me. We are led to believe that the Opposition cannot support the amendments because it is a fiscal matter and would affect the Government's revenues. I think I interpret Senator Chaney's remarks correctly when I say that. Yet the Opposition is to vote against the Fertilisers Subsidy Bill 1986, which is one of the Bills we will consider tonight and which will affect the Government's revenue by $13m, no less. So where is the consistency in the Opposition's stand? It says that it supports the reversal of the 20 per cent cut in bounties but it cannot vote for our amendments because they will affect the Government's revenue. Yet it is to vote against the Fertilisers Subsidy Bill which will affect the Government's revenue by $13m at least.

I would also like to comment on Senator Grimes's remarkable statement-it seemed remarkable to me-that industry cannot expect bounties to go on for ever. Of course they do not. Most bounties are granted for a specific length of time and are then reviewed. That has been my experience with government bounties, anyway. What has happened in this case is that the Government has given industry a certain level of bounty and then, suddenly and arbitrarily, to meet its deficit requirements in a Budget, has cut the bounty by 20 per cent. As I say, that is ad hockery. Industry does not expect bounties to be in place forever but it does expect a firm guarantee that they will be in place at a certain level for a certain length of time.