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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6479

Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (7:09 PM) —Thank you to the member for Groom for his question. I will try as well as I can to facilitate the discussion. I think this is quite a valuable forum. I would like to thank him for responding when he was the minister—if not on the spot, then following up with responses later that were of some considerable value.

In relation to the TCF review and the budget response, the fact is that the government will drive innovation in the textile, clothing and footwear industries by investing $401 million in a retargeted TCF innovation package. That will run from 2009-10 right through to 2015-16, with an extra $55 million earmarked for innovation, including $10 million in new funding. I think that is the $10 million to which the shadow minister referred. The package recognises the importance of the TCF industries, which still employ, despite a lot of restructuring over the years, more than 45,000 Australians.

Mr Ian Macfarlane —I hope the minister is wearing an Australian-made suit.

Dr EMERSON —In fact, I am. It is an Australian-made suit. It is a very nice one. It has stood the test of time. I will not say, ‘At Lowes’; I got it somewhere else. It was a DFO store, in fact. There are more than 45,000 Australians relying on this industry. The industry, as the shadow minister well knows, has moved from lower value items to more fashion items. We in the government think that, to that extent, it has a very good future. The funding that we are providing aims to make the TCF industries stronger and more sustainable by supporting the development of new products and processes, especially at that high-tech, high-value end of the market.

That is $10 million out of a total $401 million. Anyone, including the shadow minister, could argue for more funding for just about every conceivable program, but this is an important contribution to the ongoing health and restructuring of these industries. I will just point out that since the coalition have been arguing that Labor has gone into too much debt it is a bit ironic that they are now arguing that we should be spending more.