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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3425

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - in reply- The Government appreciates the fact that basically the Opposition is not opposing the Bill. It is necessary for me to say very briefly that the whole purpose of the legislation is to achieve a more equitable spread of the benefits. I think it should be made clear that under the old scheme the benefits which applied were grossly inequitable. Let me give to the Senate a few figures. Under the old scheme- the market development assistance scheme- 1 per cent of recipients received more than 50 per cent of the benefits. Under the export incentive grants scheme 2 per cent of recipients receive more than 50 per cent of the benefits. That indicates the degree to which large firms were receiving the overwhelming bulk of the benefits.

The purpose of this legislation is to help the smaller firm and the middle sized firm, to encourage them and induce them to go into the export .field and, in particular, into new exports. The big firms are generally big enough, with sufficient resources, to carry their own development costs. I am sure that we will see more benefit even though there is less money involved at this stage. It will be spread much more effectively amongst a greater number of small and middle sized firms. I appreciate the fact that Senator Durack recognises that the legislation will now involve other organisations such as cooperatives which were precluded under the previous scheme. The other main point he dealt with concerned the variant market premium rates. In the case of new markets there is an 85 per cent limit and in the case of established markets the limit is 60 per cent. It is necessary to have the differentiation because the whole thrust of this legislation is to establish new markets, to encourage people who are not exporters into those new markets and also to encourage established exporters into new markets. It is very important that, if we are to use public moneys for this purpose, we spread them as effectively as we possibly can. It would of course be desirable if we could have the best of both worlds and give everybody everything they wanted, irrespective of size and irrespective of purpose. That would involve an enormous burden on the public purse. Therefore, as every government recognises, those moneys that are expended have to be put to the best use.

I would like to say a lot more but unfortunately time is running out on us tonight. In view of the other legislation to be dealt with it will be necessary for me to conclude my remarks by saying that I am sure that this legislation will find wide acceptance throughout the manufacturing industry in Australia. It should be said that Dr Cairns went to great pains to sound out the views and the feelings of the manufacturers of Australia who were engaged or likely to be engaged in exporting. He did everything he possibly could to alter the legislation before it was finally brought before the Parliament, to ensure that the needs and the desires of the manufacturing sector of the economy were properly accounted for. As a result, I believe that we have before the Senate good legislation which can only be of benefit to the exporting industries of this country.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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