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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3150

Senator ELSTOB —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce. Has there been a substantial shortfall in offsets related work from overseas computer equipment suppliers? What action will the Government take to have Australian high technology firms pursue overseas suppliers known to have outstanding offsets obligations? Will the Minister consider making it compulsory for all government departments to report government purchases to the offsets secretariat?

Senator BUTTON —The offsets program was revamped by this Government in 1984. At that time very substantial sums of money were outstanding in respect of offsets obligations, and a large proportion of those outstanding obligations have now been recouped. The fact of the matter is that the administration of the offsets program in the last year or so has been very vigorous and a number of Australian companies, particularly of the kind referred to by Senator Elstob, computer companies and associated technologies, have been the beneficiaries of that new system which has been directed significantly in balance towards high technology industries. I am unable to provide the particular detail which Senator Elstob requests at this time but I will obtain it and give him an answer as soon as possible. I was also asked what the Government's view is about the behaviour of certain purchasing officers in respect of the administration of the offsets system. In respect of that matter I will consider Senator Elstob's suggestion and again give him an answer in due course.