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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2774

Senator DEVLIN —My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce. Is the Minister aware of an article in today's Australian Financial Review titled `Plastics poised for take-off', which reports on the view of the Plastics Institute of Australia Inc. that the Government's decision to reduce tariffs on imported chemicals will boost growth in the Australian plastics industry? Does the Minister agree with this assessment? What are the likely growth prospects for the industry?

Senator BUTTON —I am aware of the article and, of course, it is an important comment following the Government's decision about reduction in assistance to the chemicals and plastics industry. According to the Plastics Institute of Australia, the plastics industry can expect major cost reductions in resins as a result of that decision and as a result of the Government's decisions relating to the industry generally. The plastics industry has recorded a steady growth in the last three years. In 1984 the growth in volume terms was 11 per cent, in 1985 it was 10 per cent and in 1986 it was 10 per cent. Over the past 15 months innovation, changing cost structures and changing fashions have contributed to this growth record. The industry is now worth $3 billion per annum and involves about 4,000 companies and employs about 80,000 people.

Following the announcement of a phased reduction in tariffs over three or five years, com- mencing on 1 February 1987, the industry anticipates a significant rise in employment in future years. The Executive Director of the Plastics Institute of Australia is reported as saying:

. . . we believe that there is a well-founded confidence for the future of the Australian plastics industry.

I share that confidence and hope that the industry achieves strong growth in the future.