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Key industry report gathers dust as Treasurer does nothing



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MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Simon Crean MP

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Shadow Industry and Regional Development Minister

Manager of Opposition Business

19 February 1998

KEY INDUSTRY REPORT GATHERS DUST AS TREASURER DOES NOTHING

Treasurer Peter Costello has been sitting on a major Industry Commission report for well over a year, not only refusing to respond to its recommendations but even refusing to make it public, Shadow Industry Minister Simon Crean said today.

The report, State, Territory and Local Government Assistance to Industry, examined the $7.3 billion of industry assistance provided by these levels of government and reportedly recommends means of reducing inefficiency and duplication through a more coordinated approach.

To date, the Treasurer's excuse for not releasing the Report has been that it raises 'substantive issues' which run across 'all levels of government'. This implies detailed policy work and wide-ranging consultation.

But according to information just released by the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism, the government has done no work whatsoever on the Report for more than a

A committee of officials established to formulate a response has not met since 19 November 1996.

• No further meetings of the committee have been scheduled.

• There has been no consultation with any State government on the report. According to the Department, "The views of the States are not known to us."

The Industry Commission's report has been gathering dust on the Treasurer's desk since 6 November 1996, even though the Industry Commission Act required that he release the Report within 25 Parliamentary sitting days - 12 February 1997.

The Treasurer failure to act on this report is inexplicable. Is there is something in the report he doesn't want made public, or is it simply a matter of incompetence?

The Treasurer should release the report without delay, together with a timetable for the government's response.

Further information: Phillip Tardif (02) 6277 4803(0, (0411) 491 186, (02) 6254 7383(1:)

Q.

Suite RG 108, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Telephone (06) 277 4803 Fax (06) 277 8496

SENATE ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

QUESTIONS ON NOTICE

•

INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO

Program 1.0: Department of Industry, Science and Tourism Sub-program 1.5: Industry Policy Issue: IC report on state and local government assistance to industry

Senator Bishop asked:

"...presumably, you have had some policy guidance given to Treasury in terms of what they are seeking to achieve. I am asking you whether you can confirm that, and what your policy advice was to Treasury...Which officer was involved in that process then?...Someone from the department must know which subordinate officer of the department was involved in that IDC review...How long [ago] was [the fast meeting of the IDC held]...Do you know when the next meeting [of the IDC] is going to be?...Can you take all of those questions on notice" (pp.549-550)

Mr Wright replied:

"Yes. We can take on notice when the last meeting was, who went and that kind of thing." (p.550)

Senator Bishop asked:

"And if advice was given by your department?" (p.550)

Mr Wright replied:

"I would have to look at that and see what is involved." (p.550)

ANSWER:

On 19 November 1996, Mr Martin Grafi -am of DIST attended a meeting of the IDC which was chaired by Treasury. No further meetings have been scheduled.

While most of the issues discussed in the IC report are covered by the Treasury portfolio, DIST advised the IDC that Industry Ministers have primary responsibility for investment policies at the state and federal levels.

QUESTION:

Senator Bishop asked: "Has your division or department had any consultationwith state counterparts regarding this whole report and its analysis?" (p.550)

Mr Wright replied:

"Not specifically. We liaise with state departments on industry policy issues, of course, but not specifically on this report in recent times. At the time of the IDC meetings, there may have been contact." (p.550)

Senator Bishop asked:

"Can you check that and advise us?" (p.550)

ANSWER:

To the best of our knowledge, there has been no consultation by DIST with state departments on this issue.

QUESTION:

Senator Bishop asked: "Are you aware of whether any of the states have expressed a view either in support or against the key findings of the report?" (p.550)

Mr Wright replied:

"Not from memory." (p.550)

Senator Bishop asked:

"Okay. Could you check and advise that as well?" (p.550)

ANSWER:

DIST is not aware of any consultation between the Commonwealth and the States on the IC Report. State Industry Ministers have not written to Minister - Moore on this matter. The views of the States are not 'known to us.