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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Minister for Trade) . - I will contest the last point because, while this is a non-profit, nonlosing organization, I am sure that time will reveal that its operations are conducted with the end result of making, overall, neither a profit nor a loss on its insurance transactions, but of earning an appropriate income on the investment of its funds. If the Government had told the organization - and the legislation would have revealed this - that it was not expected to make a profit or a loss, but could make a concealed loss so long as the loss did not exceed the interest from the capital, that would be giving it a subsidy or, if anybody likes to use the term, a " concealed subsidy ". I would not argue on that point at all. That is not the policy, the practice or the intention upon which the organization is established, and on which it will proceed to conduct its business.

On the other hand, the analogy that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) tried to create between the possibility of this institution operating merely on a Government guarantee without capital and the fact that Ansett-A.N.A. has had its business facilitated by a Government guarantee, is not an analogy at all, because the two things are not really comparable. The essence of the difference, of course, is that AnsettA.N.A. has capital. It has millions of pounds worth of capital in its own right, and millions of pounds worth of assets in its own right. That of course, distinguishes the situation from what is envisaged.

I said when I spoke earlier that I had no doubt that it would be practicable to have a Government instrumentality operating without possession of capital but on the basis of a Government guarantee.

Mr Pollard - That is Douglas Credit.

Mr McEWEN - I repeat that it would be practicable, but such a procedure would be in the field of Douglas Credit, and if that is offensive to the honorable member 1 did not intend to be offensive. Here is a business organization to which we are seeking to attract widespread business. I remind honorable members that business can be carried to the organization not merely by Australian business entities, but also by overseas business entities, which operate in Australia or which, while not operating in Australia in their corporate entities, may do transactions in Australia. We wish that they would regard the Australian Export Payments Insurance Corporation as a normal business organization with capital of its own built up so that it can meet its own losses, if any, and carry its own working expenses. On the general proposition I will do no more than agree to differ from my friends of the Opposition.

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