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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2011

Senator MESSNER(5.28) —I wish to discuss the report of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board because I regard it as a most valuable report. As Senator Puplick has just pointed out, it is the final report of this organisation before it goes out of existence. It has had some 10 years of activity, having been instituted by the Fraser Government and continued by an Act of Parliament in 1981, again by the Fraser Government. The present Government has now changed the system, as Senator Puplick has pointed out, to one of tax deductibility.

The Liberal Party of Australia supports the moves that have occurred in the extension of tax deductibility for research and development because we feel that that is a more effective and more efficient method of handling the kinds of grants that are necessary in this area. That is not to say that this body, the subject of this report, has not achieved good work in the past, as was suggested by Senator Puplick in his remarks. In fact, page 3 of the report shows that the value of grants give to industry under the various schemes total, in today's dollar value, some $600m-a very worthwhile contribution by the Government towards the expansion of industrial research and development in this country. Quite clearly, the industrial future of Australia relies very heavily not only on competitive factors, which this Government is doing its best to destroy, but on the adaptation of research and development into marketing of new products, ideas and services that can be put on the world market to try to improve our balance of payments, which are so disastrous at present.

It is, of course, Liberal Party policy to continue to ensure that adequate funds are made available for research and development and, consequently, we generally support the incentives that are provided through the tax system. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.