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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 498

Mr KEVIN CAIRNS (Lilley) - by leaveThe honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) has just replied very truly and wisely. His comments concerning the House of Represenatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, of which he is Deputy Chairman, are perfectly correct. Firstly, I make a comment concerning the nature of the reports of the Expenditure Committee. The great openness of mind by Committee members to one another has characterised our activities ever since the Committee has been in existence. The reports we have brought forward have not been facetious or fractious. We have always sought to make the reports workable and ones that can be implemented by a government if it wishes to carry out the present operations or develop another way of carrying out its objectives.

The Treasurer (Mr Howard) has responded by proposing a Bill which will amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act and in doing so has clearly agreed with the spirit of finding (F) of the Committee. I will read from finding (F) and indicate what the Treasurer intends to do. One can see the similarity of thinking. He stated:

The existing capital structure of the AIDC is no longer relevant to the Corporation's needs and unnecessarily ties up substantial public funds.

The report goes on to argue that the gearing ratio could then be moved on. Paragraph 70 of the committee's report states:

Evidence suggests that the AIDC could move cautiously towards say 10 to one initially in terms of the gearing ratio.

On this occasion the Treasurer proposes to move to eight to one, so he is nearly where we originally wanted to go. He is 80 per cent of the way. We have made those recommendations for one or two important reasons, namely, to save taxpayers money and to save appropriations by this Parliament to the capital funds of the AIDC. We made another couple of recommendations in that area concerning the payment of dividends and subordinated loans and we hope that they will be considered. I welcome the Treasurer's statements which are in the spirit of our findings in recommendation F. We look forward ultimately to the full response of the Government to those recommendations. I believe that the Deputy Chairman of the Committee has spoken truly and correctly and has the interests of the committee and of the Parliament at heart.

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