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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3367

Senator ELSTOB —My question is to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce. On Tuesday I asked him a question about offsets programs and computer purchases. I now ask the Minister whether he is in a position to provide the further details that he promised then.

Senator BUTTON —I am in a position to provide further details but I am not quite sure where they are. I find myself in much the same position as was Senator Walsh yesterday. However let me say that, since the revised offsets program was announced by the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, and me in January of this year, there has been a great deal of activity by government and companies interested in offsets work and this has led to quite successful and worthwhile results. Since February this year, there has been some $500m worth of offsets work which will flow to Australian companies as a result of the revised program. A further $300m worth of offsets work is under discussion between aircraft manufacturing companies and overseas companies at present. That excludes negotiations taking place between aircraft manufacturing companies and the Boeing corporation and Airbus Industrie relating to the new generation of aircraft to be produced by those companies. However, the important point is that the new offsets program is being used much more successfully in respect of technology transfer and higher technology work for Australian companies. The number of companies that have benefited from offsets under the revised offsets arrangements has increased significantly. After eight months we are able to point to a result which far exceeds the results under the previous offsets program, which were subject to some abuse and some defaulting by a number of companies which had entered into agreements under that program. We very much welcome the revised scheme and the results that have been obtained to date. We encourage new companies to come into the scheme as far as possible. As at today six companies have been awarded the status of pre-qualified offsets suppliers, and that list will grow in the next few months. The Government is encouraged by the progress that has been made under the scheme and we hope that it continues in that way and that even more companies will be involved.