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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 1307

Mr CHYNOWETH(10.11) —I wish to speak to the Bounty (Computers) Bill 1984 during this cognate debate, but before I do I mention to the honourable member for O'Connor (Mr Tuckey) that within the electorate of Flinders we have the steelworks of John Lysaght. I am quite certain that it does not charge too much for its steel. It is very conscious of its prices and it does an excellent job. The people there work very hard to keep the costs down for all Australians.

The bounty offered to Australian manufacturers of computer equipment has been welcomed overwhelmingly by the computer industry. It is what it has been wanting for many years. Praise of the Government's policy fills all the industry magazines. Having worked in the industry since its commercial inception in Australia, and having designed and manufactured computer room equipment, I am extremely aware of the great new opportunities and the potential which this bounty will offer to all Australian manufacturers. The bounty of 25 per cent will certainly stimulate the computer manufacturing industry and the peripheral industries. This will undoubtedly lead to more competitiveness within the industry, more employment opportunities and, therefore, a genuine stimulus to the community and the economy.

The bounty will be paid on all computer production for domestic and export sale . I believe that the number of computers and related equipment produced in Australia at this very moment runs into thousands. We have within Australia a large number of scientists and engineers with skills which could enable our country to lead the world in many areas of computing. The bounty will expand the opportunity for them to put their considerable skills to work. We should not only be looking at our own market but also following the example of a few Australian companies and moving out to the huge market of the rest of the world. The bounty will assist those companies prepared to do so.

The bounty is directed to private industry and will undoubtedly go to many small businesses. I am sure that the bounty will please that area of the industry which employs a major part of the work force. Small businesses are able to adapt to change very rapidly. They are usually the most innovative and the most progressive. I urge those who have had thoughts of moving into the computer industry to do so now.

In the electorate of Flinders we have many high technology firms. I know that they will be extremely pleased. I have had representations from many for assistance. I am proud to belong to a government that is committed to assisting them. In and around the Frankston and Mornington area high technology firms are being established very rapidly. I have been advocating for many months now that this area is the correct part of Victoria in which to establish a high technology industry. I am sure that it will happen in the very near future.

The rate of advance within the computer industry is still increasing exponentially and will continue to do so. Unless our Australian industry is involved in this explosion of growth we will be rapidly left behind. Therefore, the nation will be reliant on imported technology. I have stated before that, if we do not develop our own high technology industries, we will be a technological backwater. The bounty provides an opportunity for the Australian computer industry to participate in this growth.

A provision in the Bill is that the bounty is not payable to equipment which is not of good merchantable quality. This is a most important clause. What it does is prevent inferior manufactured goods from obtaining the bounty. It creates a standard of excellence which must be obtained. Australia already has a good name in manufactured products and this must be protected. It will also prevent the scheme from being abused by manufacturers who sell equipment not up to accepted standards. It is a provision which will enhance the reputation of Australian goods and provide the world with quality goods.

The Hawke Labor Government has moved quickly to ensure that government bodies are aware that they should purchase Australian-designed and manufactured computer equipment where it is compatible with overseas equipment. We have given the off-set program close scrutiny. I am certain that those who have off-set obligations under their schemes will be instructed to fulfil them. In my years as an electronic technician I serviced much office equipment in many large American firms that established their offices in Australia. They all insisted on installing American-made office equipment. I trust that private industry will also make a conscious effort to buy quality Australian-made computer equipment and, therefore, provide the initial stimulus and assistance a new industry requires.

All these actions will, in the future, increase the market for our own computer industry. The Labor Government is creating the opportunities; we are supplying the incentives. It is now up to the industry to act quickly to use these excellent conditions which we have created to build for this nation an industry whose expansion is limited only by our imagination. I commend the Bills to the House.