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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 981

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE —My question, which is directed to the Minister for Finance, relates to reports in the Australian Financial Review of yesterday and today regarding the Western Australian Government's Exim Corporation. Does the Minister share the concern expressed about the operation of that Corporation? In particular, has he sought to inquire how an unexplained $2.8m interest payment was earned by a corporation which, according to the last annual report, had no funds on deposit and only $350,000 in cash, investments and loans outstanding? Is the Minister concerned that Exim has still not lodged its financial reports which were due in December last year? Finally, is it a fact that the Commonwealth advanced $6m to Exim to acquire cattle properties for Aboriginals in the Kimberley? If so, is the Commonwealth concerned about the apparent lack of progress of that project?

Senator WALSH —I have read some of the report in today's Australian Financial Review, although I did not read any of the report which was apparently in yesterday's edition. Towards the end of Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle's question she referred to the $6m that had been provided by the Commonwealth Government for the purchase of cattle properties in the Kimberley region. As far as I know, those purchases have been completed, but I will seek confirmation of that.

Senator Chaney —They have not gone to Aborigines. They have bought the properties but they are just sitting there.

Senator WALSH —I do not know where they have gone. I said that as far as I know the properties had been bought, but I will have that checked out and find out what is currently happening to them.

I did read the section in today's edition which referred to the late lodgment of company returns. If I remember correctly, the Financial Review said that Exim would be ultimately fined for lodging those late returns. I think that compliance with company law of Western Australia is entirely a matter for the State Government. Apart from the $6m which was provided for the purchase of those cattle properties, I really do not think that what goes on inside Exim is anything to do with either my portfolio or the Treasurer's, but is a matter for the State Government. The Commonwealth is entitled to be involved only to the extent that Commonwealth moneys have been supplied for a particular purpose, and certainly it is legitimate to check out that the money has been used for that purpose.