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Draft IAC report: textiles, clothing and footwear

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77/91 BACA


The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Robert Cotton, and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Val Fife, today commented upon the draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission concerning long-term assistance for the textiles, clothing and footwear industries, which had now been released by the Commission.

"The draft report has focused attention on the wide range of complex problems associated with the future development of these sectors. As such the report should assist interested parties to concentrate on the central issues involved prior to the Commission completing its

final report", the Ministers said.

Drawing attention to the draft report, the Ministers emphasised that supplementary hearings being scheduled by the Commission were expected to start in six weeks' time.

"It is important that all interests likely to be affected by decisions on long term assistance for these industries, study the Commission's draft carefully and put their views on the issues involved to the Commission in the course of the forthcoming hearings.

"This should ensure that the Commission can take into account all relevant viewpoints when preparing more detailed recommendations, in . contrast with the broad issues of principle and general approach enunciated in the draft".

The Government was fully aware that decisions on the nature and level of long-term assistance for these industries would have a profound bearing on the future wellbeing of industries employing 120,000 Australians, including many in decentralised locations. Accordingly any decisions, ultimately taken, must only be after a most careful and detailed

examination of all significant factors involved.

The Government also recognised that the type of difficulties involved in sustaining these industries were not unique to Australia. Most developed countries of the Western World were experiencing significant problems associated with imports of these products from

low-cost, low-wage sources. Overseas experience had demonstrated the difficulties involved in resolving problems in these labour intensive industries.

The Ministers stressed that the Draft Report does not commit the Government to any specific policies for these industries.

The Government will be asking the Textiles and Apparel Industry Advisory Council and the Footwear Industry Advisory Council to examine the issues associated with this draft report. These Councils will be called together quickly.

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Senator Cotton and Mr Fife explained that as far as the short-term future of these industries was concerned, the Government last April quite clearly indicated that import quotas on a wide range of these industries' products would be continued well into 1978· The Commission's draft report would not involve any departure from the Government's position regarding the short-term assistance requirements of these industries outlined on that occassion.

The Government had received an interim report from the Commission on quota levels to apply during the addional six months period decided upon in April, 1977· This matter is currently being examined. In reaching decisions on short-term quota levels the Government will be

giving careful attention to the employment implications involved.