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Friday, 25 September 1970

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to provide temporary assistance to local manufacturers currently producing bountiable tractors additional to the normal assistance provided by the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966. The decision to introduce amending legislation was taken after an urgent review by the Government of the. Australian tractor manufacturing industry during which evidence was received from the two registered manufacturers - Chamberlain Industries Pty Ltd of Western Australia and International Harvester Co. of Australia in Victoria - that the industry was facing serious damage from import competition. Since the Special Advisory Authority is not empowered to recommend on variations in bounty assistance, it was not appropriate for the problem to be referred to him for consideration. The assistance now proposed will be additional to and at rates equal to those now paid on production under the present Act. The assistance will only be paid in respect of bountiable tractors produced at premises registered under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966 as at 1st July 1970. The amendment extends the bounty to 30th June 1972 subject to earlier termination by proclamation if appropriate. It is estimated that this additional assistance will cost the Government $ 1.25m to the end of the 1970-71 financial year, an amount which it is considered will sustain the industry in the current situation. The Government will review the situation before the 1971-72 Budget to determine the effect of this additional assistance and if necessary adjust the rate of payment. In addition, the Tariff Board will be asked to report on the question of longer term assistance to the industry. Without this further assistance it is possible that the country could lose an important industry involving a large capital outlay and directly employing some 1,400 persons, many of whom are highly skilled. Some reduction in the normal labour force has already occurred. I commend the Bill to honourable members. [Debate, (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.]

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