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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 443

Senator SCHACHT (Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction) (4.48 p.m.) —I think the opening parts of Senator Spindler's remarks are actually part of the contradiction at the moment. We have commercial interests—about 20 per cent in the AIDC—and we have a government guarantee.

Senator Spindler —We could move to sell those back to the government.

Senator SCHACHT —No, I think in the end Senator Spindler would have to agree that that is a contradiction. But I would probably see that there are two ways to resolve that contradiction. Senator Spindler's view would be to have it 100 per cent in government ownership; the other way is to have none of it in government ownership. I think that debate is about to occur and will occur on the appropriate bill in this parliament, not to say in the community. I think that is when we will have the debate.

Senator Spindler —And at the ALP conference.

Senator SCHACHT —At the ALP conference, at the ALP national executive and, as I said, in the Australian community as is appropriate. We have dealt with those issues very satisfactorily in the Labor Party over the last 11 years of government. I have just been informed that it was only in the very late 1980s that the 20 per cent of the AIDC was sold off to the private sector. I suppose Senator Spindler might well say that that was when we first put our foot in the water, as a parliament, to let that happen. We might well say that once we are halfway in, we have to go all the way in. That is a debate that we will have in the chamber at a later stage. We have now had our dialogue for a while. The opening round has been enjoined on this issue. I commend the bill as it is. The debate is not absolutely germane to this bill. Let us get on and carry the bill.

  Amendments agreed to.

  Bill, as amended, agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.