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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2561

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party) - I wish to speak very briefly, merely to indicate that we support the general character of the Bill.

However, I speak also to draw attention to something that has happened concerning communication between industry and the Government over this Bill. It is pointed out in a communication I have received from the Australian Manufacturers ' Export Council, which states:

The Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr J. F. Cairns, announced on 13 March 1973 that the Government had decided to extend the export incentive schemes in the form of export incentive grants and export market development allowance until June 1974.

I think that that would have been done at the request of the businesses concerned and that the decision of the Minister was a wise one. The submission continues:

During the intervening period, the Minister would arrange for a thorough review of the operation of the schemes and the outcome of that review would be considered the Cabinet.

As a result of this co-operation with Dr Cairns the Australian Manufacturers' Export Council undertook a nationwide survey. It obtained extensive information and made it available. As a result of deliberations the Council has now sent a submission with recommendations on a revised overall export development scheme to the Minister for Overseas Trade. I would like to see that kind of co-operation in other measures which the Government undertakes and which may affect the business world. The general body of Australian manufacturers in a recent report called for that type of co-operation. The manufacturers said that they felt that there had been a major breakdown in communication between the Government and industry on a Bill such as the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill. They said that they wanted the opportunity to consult the Government prior to the introduction of legislation into Parliament which would have repercussions on the business sector. The Associated Chambers of Manufacturers of Australia in its report states:

Even when industry is consulted, frequently it is only after the experts in the Government have reached fixed positions and perhaps even the Minister has become committed to the policy. Under these circumstances input from industry is too late, with the result that industry is put in the position of being against something or of appearing to be negative.

The newly appointed Minister for Secondary Industry and Supply, Mr Kep Enderby, has publicly acknowledged the lack of consultative machinery to enable effective communications.

That is between the Government and industry. The report points out that the Minister has taken an initiative which the ACMA welcomes, and which I welcome, to establish an Australian industries council which will consist of Ministers from the Federal and State governments, industry leaders and trade unionists. I do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill except to say that I think that a lot of the problems which the

Government has met in the past 12 months in regard to legislation of an economic character could have been obviated if the Government, having prepared its plans, had said to industrial organisations: 'Let us take time out. Let us have this legislation he here for a while. We will look at it. You put your submissions and we will see whether we cannot reach a point of cooperation'. This would be better than the Government being in the position of wanting something and the Opposition opposing it. That is the reason which lies behind the decision which the Australian Democratic Labor Party has made to defer certain Bills.

We feel that when a Bill comes in and when the Government has reached a fixed position there ought to be time for consultation, discussion and possible co-operation with industry. Therefore, at times when people criticise the DLP and say that we are obstructing Government legislation, it is not the case that we want to obstruct government legislation. We say that before these measures which may have a wide economic effect come into operation, surely there ought to be time for industries which will be affected to have a good look at these measures and to make their submissions to the Government as to how the measures can be improved. Therefore I am pleased to see the indication here that both Dr Cairns and Mr Enderby bear in mind the need for co-operation and consultation. I hope that that kind of thing will continue.

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