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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2277

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) - I realise that time is the essence in this debate and I will not take very long. Both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) have advocated that we should return to the status quo. In a very few words I want to say how sorry I am that consideration of this Bill during the Committee stage will not take a long time. I must confess that there has been a breakdown in communications relating to the second reading speech on this Bill. It was sincerely hoped on the Government side of this Parliament that there would be a meeting of the minds across the table at the Committee stage of this Bill. To that effect the services of the officers of the Department of Secondary Industry and the Australian Industry Development Corporation were offered. It came as a surprise to me that the Bill was brought on for debate so soon, because as Chairman of the Caucus Economic Committee I learned of the offer of the officers only at the same time as the Opposition did. I am still hopeful that when this Bill comes back into this House after a time in the Senate, if other arrangements cannot be made on this occasion, we can have a good detailed study of it.

I want to say sincerely something which I think could be said to come within the ambit of this clause, because this clause is the essence of the proposed changes. I believed, and many have believed, that the changes advocated by the Government were in line with the thinking of the previous Government. The right honourable member for Lowe nods his head. The changes arose out of the fact that the purposes of the Bill were defined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his speech during the second reading debate, and have been mentioned by the right honourable member for Lowe. They were to preserve Australian control over the mining and manufacturing industries as well as providing development finance in situations where existing financial institutions were not able to provide that finance. The second of those purposes of the Bill has been covered by the Bill. But, in the light of experience, I think that the first of them has not been covered, and that is the reason for these changes in the functions of the Australian Industry Development Corporation, that is the reason for the widening of its functions.

Mr McMahon - You will accept the fact that the Minister himself said that this was not the Government's will; this was the will of Sir Alan Westerman and his Board. The Labor Party did not want it.

Mr HURFORD - I do not accept that. I think that is a misunderstanding at which the right honourable gentleman has arrived. Certainly the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) who sits at the table mentioned and quoted from the speech of Sir Alan Westerman when he was delivering his speech during the second reading debate. But that is not what has motivated the Government in this matter. In the light of experience we have found that the takeover of Australian industries is not prevented unless we can find within Australia the investment funds to take the place of overseas funds. The functions of the Australian Industry Development Corporation, both in our view and in the view of many men, if I may say so, who are the political colleagues of the 2 gentlemen at the table opposite, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the right honourable member for Lowe, need to be widened to do this, and that is precisely what these clauses in this Bill do. I draw to the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the right honourable member for Lowe to clause 5. (a) (ii) which reads: engaging or participating in enterprises or developmental projects in relation to any such industries or activities',

This is in order to allow the AIDC itself to enter into joint ventures with other organisations in order to achieve the same purpose that the right honourable member for Lowe when he was Prime Minister of this country set out to achieve. It is in the light of experience that we have arrived at these conclusions and that any men of different political persuasions have arrived at these conclusions. I promised that I would not take one minute more than I had to in order to allow more ground to be covered and I am going to rest on those comments.

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