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Oppositions claims on coal export duty 'ludicrous'



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DPIE91/314C 4 Decemberl991

OPPOSITION’S CLAIMS ON COAL EXPORT DUTY LUDICROUS'

The M inister for Prim ary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, has welcomed the favourable response by industry bodies to the Government's decision to abolish the Coal Export Duty and criticised the Coalition's response to the initiative.

"It is ludicrous to suggest as the Opposition Leader and Leader of the National Party did yesterday th at the Government stole the idea from the Coalition's GST package which was only announced on November 21,"

Mr Crean said.

"The Government's decision to abolish the Coal Export Duty was the result of working closely with the company in developing an industry development strategy,"

Mr Crean met with the Group General Manager of BHP-Utah Coal Limited (BUCL), Bob Flew, in July shortly after taking over the portfolio.

"Detailed discussions have continued since then on the repeal of the Coal Export Duty and commitments the company was prepared to make if the duty was abolished."

The M inister said the empty claims of theft showed th a t neither John Hewson or Tim Fischer had spoken to the company before m aking such clearly false statements. "It also suggests th a t the Opposition has neither the capacity nor the inclination to talk directly with business in

order to establish the real facts.

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Telephone: (06)277 7520 Facsimile: (06)273 4120

T h e Opposition's GST package proposes the abolition of the Coal Export Duty with no conditions attached. The Government's initiative however dem onstrates the distinction between the approach of the Coalition and the Government.

"The package of major reform measures for the coal sector typifies the m utual gains th a t are able to be made when governments work closely with industry to overcome sectoral impediments and promote industry development.

"The Coalition is also proposing to scrap the Joint Coal Board purely as an expenditure cut. This decision would not only wipe out the significant and beneficial roles served by the Board but there would be no gain. This is because our initiative in maintaining the Board would require it to become self funding by 1992-93.

"Accordingly there would be no nett savings from the Coalition proposal to scrap the Board while the health and welfare standards of mine workers and their families would be jeopardised."

"The changes to the role of the Board flowed from an independent inquiry conducted by M r Bryan Kelman and it will m aintain the functions identified in the Kelman Report

"The Opposition's position is an ideologically driven dry economic approach which h as no regard fbr the legitimate role of Government in achieving national objectives," he said.

Information: Catherine Payne (03) 655 2600 or (06) 277 7520.