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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2778

Senator ELSTOB —I ask the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce: How successful is the Government's policy of a 150 per cent tax deduction for research and development expenditure under the industrial research and development taxation concession scheme? Will the Government be considering extending the eligibility criteria for the scheme following criticism that it affects only one link in the marketing chain and that there also needs to be similar assistance for the identification and development of market opportunities? In particular, what is the Minister's response to calls from the travel industry to have the development of the infrastructure for tourism in this country covered by a similar scheme?

Senator BUTTON —I believe that the scheme has been quite successful. The measure of that is the number of companies that have indicated increased expenditure on research and development in the past year or two and particularly since the scheme has come into force. Senator Elstob has asked whether the eligibility criteria for the scheme should be extended following criticisms that it affects only one link in the marketing chain. I do not know whether sufficient time has elapsed to draw that conclusion. I would think not. The scheme was deliberately limited because of the need to target it towards research and development activity, an area in which Australia had an appalling record compared with other countries. At a later stage there could be amendments to the scheme, but the market opportunities might best be identified by those people in the market who ought to have the necessary skills to do so. Nonetheless, the matter can always be examined. I do not know whether there should be a similar scheme for tourism. My mind boggles at the notion of research into tourism. I can understand the notion of development but I do not understand terribly much the notion of research. Perhaps I can refer that part of the question to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism to see whether he has anything further to add.