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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1370

Senator CARR —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. The minister would be aware that the March quarter national accounts highlighted the strong growth of the clothing and footwear sectors. However, what is the government doing to further strengthen these industries now that the textiles, clothing and footwear industries development strategy is nearing completion?

Senator COOK —I thank Senator Carr for his question. The current textiles, clothing and footwear industries development strategy is due to be concluded in February in two years time—February 1996. Under the current industries development strategy, $160 million in financial assistance has been allocated to projects that have promoted industry restructuring and increased for this industry international competitiveness. As a result of this strategy, exports have increased by 85 per cent since 1987-88 to nearly $550 million. The industries have already set themselves the objective of quadrupling manufactured textile, clothing and footwear exports to $2 billion per year by the year 2000.

  The government believes that the key to sustaining the restructuring of the TCF industries is to increase the pace at which the industries focus on export opportunities. If this is to be achieved, the outward reorientation of TCF industries must continue. I am, therefore, pleased to announce the establishment of a textiles, clothing and footwear—TCF—future strategies committee to review the arrangements supporting the TCF industries and to report on the industries' growth prospects over the rest of this decade.

  The review is foreshadowed in the government's white paper on employment and growth. The review will form an important part of the government's consideration of what arrangements should be implemented when the existing TCF industry development strategy expires in February 1996. The review will ascertain the competitive position of Australia's TCF industries against international benchmarks. It will identify those strategies required to take advantage of the market opportunities arising from the industries' improved efficiency, and the opportunities arising from the international market as a result of the recently concluded Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. It will also provide a blueprint to assist the industries plan their own development over the next 10 years.

  A committee comprising senior industry, union and public sector representatives will evaluate the industries' position and make recommendations to the government. I am particularly pleased to be able to report that a number of highly respected industry representatives have agreed to participate in this important review. They are Mr George Innes, a well-respected industrialist who for many years was in charge of Bond Industries; Mr Rod Mewing, the Managing Director of David Jones; and Mr Bill Mansfield, assistant secretary of the ACTU. Representatives of Austrade and the Department of Finance will also participate in the review to ensure that the federal government's services are completely integrated into the industry's future support measures.

  The review, which I expect will be seeking the views of all sections of industry, will be supported with all the necessary expert assistance. It will report to me early next year. This reporting date will ensure that the government will be able to indicate to the industries by mid-1995 what supporting arrangements they will be operating under after the conclusion of the present industries development strategy. A separate review of TCF tariffs will be conducted in 1996 with a view to recommending the rates to apply after the year 2000. I look forward to the review's findings, and I hereby table the review's terms of reference.