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State Government Assistance to Industry report

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111.:;411 JJ-lito ua lat e Hon Gareth Evans QC MP Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer State Government Assistance to Industry Report

The Government has today finally released the Industry Commission's final report on State, Territory and Local Government Assistance to Industry.

This information report is dated 29 October 1996. In other words, it was available for the Government to release almost a year and a half ago.

The Government's failure to release the report for so long is a direct and flagrant breach of the Industry Commission Act which requires reports to be released within 25 parliamentary sitting days.

And to make matters worse, this extremely long delay was despite repeated questions from Labor in Senate estimates on 8 May 1997, 2 June 1997, 19 August 1997, 12 November 1997 and 20 November 1997.

It's obvious, now seeing the report, that a key reason for the inordinate delay by the Howard Government in releasing it, is its criticism of several State Coalition Governments.

Most notably, the Commission points to a lack of transparency and accountability in the incentives offered by Liberal State Governments in South Australia (where the Commission finds that the secretive parliamentary committee process in that State "does not provide for public accountability and transparency of the use of public funds") and Victoria (where the Commission finds that the already meagre level of information

provided by the State Government on selective incentives to industry is declining).

In addition, the Howard Government has sat on the report because it lacks the strong leadership characteristics necessary to forge a national framework with real teeth to limit the costly competition for investment between the States identified by the Industry Commission.

A Government that considered the Industry Commission to be an important source of economic advice would not have suppressed this important report for so long.

Industry Commission reports are produced at great cost to the taxpayer. It is scandalous that this report into state and territory government assistance to industry has been allowed to sit gathering dust for almost a year and a half before finally being released.

23 February 1998