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Monday, 29 August 1994
Page: 523

Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) (7.02 p.m.) —We have given very careful consideration to the Democrats' opposition to clauses 6 and 7. My colleague Mr Tim Fischer MP, who is our shadow minister for trade, wrestled with this issue during the weekend after I made further representations to him last week following representations from Senator Spindler. We remain unconvinced by the Democrats' argument. It is a question of judgment as to whether one settles on five grants, 10 grants or 20 grants.

  We are not talking about the rights of the individual firms, which are not affected by this. This applies only when a number of firms join together to create an artificial entity to bring themselves within the scheme—and for good reason, too, because as individual firms they do not meet the threshold—so the limit of five grants to be imposed is not unreasonable. It is as simple as that. If the Australian Democrats are genuinely interested in benefiting small business, I think they ought to look to some of their other policies, such as their high tax policy.

  Senator Spindler interjecting

Senator HILL —I find it somewhat inconsistent that on the one hand Senator Spindler argues about increasing fuel taxes and all of the extra burdens that make it so hard for small businesses to exist, and on the other hand he says that they need further benefit under this bill when it has not even been demonstrated that eight opportunities for consortia instead of five is going to provide, in practical terms, an added opportunity. In our view, the case has not been made out by the Australian Democrats, and we are not prepared to support their opposition to the clauses.

  Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.

  Remainder of bill—by leave—taken as a whole, and agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.