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Tuesday, 19 May 1970

Mr GILES (Angas) - I continue my remarks, which I began last Thursday, in support of the motion for the second reading of the Bill to establish the Industry Development Corporation. I dealt with the fact that the conditions applying to this Corporation were almost precisely the same as those applying to a free enterprise corporation. An example of this is taxation in the normal course of events. I dealt also with the fact that the protective devices built into this Bill assure that this position -should be maintained. I referred, as an example, to the tabling in the Parliament of any notice of dismissal of part time or full time directors and the fact that Parliament has the ultimate say on such an action. I referred to the fact that the proposed Corporation is not an Australian Labor Party type of Socialised mechanism for taking over from private enterprise the industries of this country. I referred too to the fact that it was an aid to the manufacturing and mining industries from the free enterprise sector of our industry.

Again, I referred to the changing circumstances of Australia, to the changing circumstances of our balance of payments and to the changing circumstances in regard to foreign equity in Australian companies. I pointed out that these changing circumstances needed a change in thinking. I hope I pointed out also that I regarded this Bill as being vital to meet these changing circumstances as they affect the Australian equity in Australian industries.

I referred also to the fact that I would anticipate there would be little or no competition with trading banks or, indeed, the Resources Development Bank. I mentioned, I believe, that if there is a field of competition I felt that the Corporation itself could compete, and probably would compete, with the few merchant banks as we see them in Australia today. There are very few of those institutions. I referred to the directors, both the full time, but more importantly, the part time directors. I stressed the importance of people of consequence making sure that a business evaluation would dictate what terms were allowed to certain infant or other industries requiring and making application for funds. I referred to the capacity of the directors, both part time and full time, to decide what interest the proposition could bear and what servicing terms could be met. I pointed out during those remarks that the source of the funds would be the source as anticipated of last resort.

I pointed out, too, that my expectations were that the Corporation, whilst starting in a relatively minor and small way, would come to the rescue - and I stress it again - of private sector manufacturing industries and private sector mining industries. There may be others that' would come into this category. But that is the way I feel the

Government has worded the Minister's second reading speech - and indeed has worded the legislation that empowers the Corporation to take action in these ways. I pointed out that any increase in capital from overseas for the sake of this Corporation could confidently be. anticipated to provide a nett increase in the flow of capital funds to this country. I pointed out that government loan capacities would not be competing in certain areas available for this type of overseas finance. I pointed out, Sir, that quite contrary to my friends on the opposite side of the House there was no intention whatsoever - that is the happiest news - by the Government to allow any intrusion by governments into the function of the Corporation, that every protective device possible as far as I am aware surrounds the Bill in order to assure that it does succeed in its aims of helping to finance propositions from the private sector of Australian companies.

Not long ago an honourable member of the Opposition pointed out to me very plainly - and of course he shall be nameless - that his complaint with this Bill was that it helped private industries too much. This, of course, demonstrates precisely the difference between the Government's attitude on this type of legislation and the Opposition's attitude. We do not wish that this Act setting up the Industry Development Corporation should aid in public sector investment; on the contrary, we wish it should aid in private sector investment. To use an argument, as I have read on odd occasions, that this therefore would help our Socialistic friends to achieve their ambitions for public ownership of companies is quite ridiculous. The whole aim of this Bill is in entirely the opposite direction. I believe that the time will come when the Corporation will achieve a very worth ful function for the people of Australia and will achieve the aims of this Bill.

Mr Armitage - You need to have the people to own it.

Mr GILES - 1 accept the challenge: If the worst for the nation comes to pass and the Australian Labor Party does take control of the government benches in due course, the very terms of this Bill make a decisive difference between that Party's ideas and the ideas of the people on this side of the political fence. I have taken it as tantamount to a declaration of Labor's own policies that honourable members opposite would not give financial help to Australian industries with export potential; honourable members opposite would not give it because they wish such industries to be taken over by public sector corporations - by the Government - and no doubt they would introduce a Bill that might look, at face value, extremely like this Bill but whose provisions would be the exact converse of the terms of this Bill. I thank the honourable member for his interjection because 1 think it is most necessary that the people of Australia should be very well aware at this point of time that there is a complete philosophical difference of approach between the 2 parties in this House on the question of public ownership. The Labor Party believes in public ownership and we on our side of the political fence believe in encouraging private ownership, with proper business principles applying to it.

For too long 1 have listened on odd occasions to people, not aligned politically, use frantically and loosely the term 'free enterprise'. This country has never adopted the same attitudes as the United Kingdom or the United States of America regarding the ownership of public facilities and instrumentalities. This country has never had, for instance, a privately owned company owning the telephone structure. We have never had to any reasonable degree private ownership of railways or private ownership of the major type of hospital. Where are we? I say: Beware of the person who loosely uses the phrase 'free enterprise'. We have our own methods in this country and 1 will give regard, when it is due, to Opposition legislation. Thinking back over the last 30 years 1 can recall some legislation introduced by the Australian Labor Party that has worked to the benefit of this nation. After all, that is the approach we want set out in the terms of this Bill. If it had been bad legislation the Government would have altered it. Some of it was bad. We are a young nation and we are feeling our way. I believe there is a slot and a sound reason for the establishment of this Corporation, and that it is in the interest of the Australian people that this Bill should be passed.

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