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Monday, 6 June 1994
Page: 1324


Senator COLLINS (Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) —by leave—I want to acknowledge the comments that Senator Crane has made about the value of the existing arrangements. That is a view that accords with my own. I want to say with regard to the report that Senator Crane has just referred to—I have not yet had an opportunity to read it thoroughly, but I will—that, after having read the synopsis of it, it accords very much with the conclusions that the government's own economic review committee of the cabinet review of those arrangements has already drawn.

  In respect of formulating the directions in terms of the government's policy that we want to see those research and development corporations pursuing, I want to advise the Senate that I have met with the chairs and chief executives of all of the corporations in a group. I have, over the course of this year, scheduled meetings with all of them individually and, indeed, have already completed about half a dozen of those meetings. I will be writing to the chairs of all of the corporations and councils shortly laying out the government's objectives, particularly in view of the public interest component of funding, which is important in order to continue to justify the extent of government support that we provide.

  In respect of the report's recommendations on a review of those funding arrangements, that again is already in hand as a result of the ERC budget review process. A reporting date has been set on the completion of that review for 1995. The important point that I want to make in conclusion is that the government has given a firm commitment to the continuation of the existing funding arrangements; that is, dollar for dollar, not only for this financial year but also for the following financial year.