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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3979

Mr HURFORD (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I wish to direct a question without notice to the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is it a fact that the Australian

Industry Development Corporation would be well set up, if and when the Australian Labor Government's amendments to its Act are passed by both Houses of this Parliament, to assist any winemaking companies with a liquidity problem? It is a fact also that such a liquidity problem may arise in some companies as the $15m deferred taxes are collected over the next 5 years? Further, is it a fact that this excellent prospect of assistance to the South Australian winemaking industry is now put in jeopardy because of the irresponsible actions of the Opposition majority in the Senate in failing to pass the Government's amendments to the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - It is possible for the AIDC to assist the South Australian wine industry in relation to the problems of that industry that have followed the changes in the tax arrangements that inevitably should have been made.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There are too many interjections and they will cease. There should not be interjections when a Minister is speaking.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) My grandmother used to say that empty vessels make the most sound and I have had to come here to find that out. The AIDC would be equipped to assist. We have had no request, as far as I am aware. While we would welcome one, I do say to the House that the implication in the question is a correct one. Under present circumstances I do not think the AIDC would be able to assist the wine industry. Because of the level of funds available to the Corporation it must have first regard to basic developmental projects. I would not say that the wine industry is a basic developmental project in fact or in terms of the AIDC's very limited powers to act according to the present law, which is, of course, affected by what the Senate is doing.

The Senate is proposing to refer the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control for inquiry and report I believe the Democratic Labor Party senators are genuine in their attitude. I think they wish to have the Bills more closely examined by that Committee and, given that view, I am quite prepared to see that examination made. However, I do say that the other Opposition parties - the Liberal Party and the Country Party - are not genuine at all. They do not want to see the scope of the AIDC widened in any way.

Mr Snedden - On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I do not know how you can permit the Minister to go on like this knowing that we have no opportunity to debate a matter which is a major current issue. You are providing an opportunity for the Minister to say things-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition is reflecting on the Chair. I have no control over the way the Minister answers the question as long as the answer is relevant to the question asked.

Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker, quite clearly this question relates to a Bill which has to come before this House. To allow this to be anticipated without any opportunity for us to answer or to speak about a Bill which is currently in the Senate is quite clearly not the proper use of the forms of this House.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is a matter for the House to decide, but the question as it is now is quite in order.

Mr Snedden - Then, Mr Speaker, as a further point of order, may I ask the Minister whether he will make a statement on this matter after question time and allow it to be debated so that there is not just a one-sided presentation?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Decisions on such matters rest entirely with the Leader of the House. I call the Minister for Overseas Trade.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) I do not wish to rely on any precedents but I sat on the Opposition side for 18 years listening to the honourable member as a Minister misusing question time. Any complaints about my doing so receive no response from me, I can tell you. I do not wish to take up any undue time but I do think that it is necessary for me as the Minister responsible for this Bill to take the first opportunity that I have to state the attitude of the Government to what is happening in another place. I have done that. I have done it clearly. I think that that is my responsibility as the Minister who introduced the legislation.

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