Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 4 December 2003
Page: 23836

Dr EMERSON (2:54 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Trade. I refer to the government's decision to provide three grants, totalling $200,000, to World Wide Entertainment, which is run by the former director of the failed Pyramid Building Society. Does the minister recall answering my question earlier in the week, when he said, `... presumably there are other directors and shareholders' of World Wide Entertainment? Isn't it a fact that there are only three shareholders of World Wide Entertainment—two of them being the former director of the failed Pyramid Building Society and his son? Given that the former director of the failed Pyramid group has said that he intends to apply for further grants, will the minister guarantee that the government will not provide further grants to World Wide Entertainment?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —I thank the member for his question. I am aware of the information that he indicated in terms of the ownership of the company, but the structure is a little bit different, in that I understand that the individuals that he mentioned hold 10,000 shares each. The third party, Mr Bertrand, holds 20,000 shares, so it is a split in that direction. As I indicated in my earlier answer, as far as applicants to the EMDG program are concerned, the scheme is non-discretionary. Grants are accessed and paid by Austrade according to the rules set out in the Export Market Development Grants Act 1997. It is a highly successful scheme. Last year, 3,800 small and medium-sized Australian enterprises received assistance from the EMDG program.

I say again: I understand this scheme was launched—interestingly, given that former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is in the gallery—by the Whitlam government in 1974. It has been conducted and has had rules applied in a similar manner, at arms-length in terms of the scrutiny of applications, the assessment of the appropriateness of businesses that apply, and ensuring that the objectives are maintained—and that is to enhance opportunities for exports into international markets and to sustain the employment in those businesses. I understand that in this business there are some 20-odd employees whose jobs rely on this area. This issue has been brought to my attention by the member for Corangamite. In asking Austrade during the assessment process that was undertaken, the sorts of issues that have been raised were investigated in terms of the appropriateness of the loan according to the rules and the law at the time.