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Wednesday, 20 May 1970

Mr HOWSON (Casey) (12:40 PM) - I am sad that the Government has not seen fit to accept either of these 2 amendments. The first one deals with the general question of the lender of last resort. The Australian Industry Development Association, which came out in support of this measure generally, stressed in one of its Press notices that above all this Australian Industry Development Corporation should be a lender of last resort. The Minister went out of his way to compliment the AIDA for what it said because he was so pleased with the support he was getting from that Association for this Corporation. The Association stated very strongly that it should be a firm condition that the Corporation be a lender of last resort and that its charter should preclude it from looking for business in any way whatever. Here we are endeavouring to set out in quite simple language what in fact so many people who have been generally supporting this Corporation from outside the Parliament have been insisting on.

So far I am really not impressed with the argument that the Minister has been putting forward, if 1 had had any doubts whatsoever when I rose earlier to speak, they have been dispelled by the remarks of honourable members opposite who have made it quite clear that of course . they would not like these amendments because they are so contrary to their doctrine. On the other hand, in relation to the limitation on the funds that should be held in any one company, this is a provision which has been lifted roughly from legislation on other Government instrumentalities, lt is to be found in the Broadcasting and Television Act. If we have seen fit in the past to put in this clause in order to deal with this very matter, I cannot see why the Minister is not willing to accept it. Here it is hedged around with every proviso. It can hold up to 15%, whereas 10% would probably have been a more reasonable amount. Even so, there is a proviso dealing with bridging finance. As honourable members on this side of the chamber have seen fit to bring in amendments of this sort in the past and have them inserted in Acts, 1 would have thought that here was another occasion on which such an amendment should be accepted.

Coming back to this question of lender of last resort, here we are using taxpayers' money and not asking the Corporation to earn any profit, lt is one thing to compete but to use a large amount - S25m this year - of taxpayers' funds, and not ask the Corporation to do anything - is a different matter. It can lend these funds out at any rate of interest. There is no provision for making a profit and no provision that it is to be a lender of last resort. I am really not impressed by the remarks of the Minister so far. if that is the best he can do he had better do a little more homework and come up with a more reasonable excuse than the ones he has put forward, because these are 2 reasonable amendments. So far anything we have heard from the Minister has, I think, really been a fair amount of nonsense.

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