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Tuesday, 27 March 1984
Page: 696

Senator FOREMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. It concerns the Government's impending revision of the post-1984 assistance arrangements for the car industry and, in particular, the local content plan. Is the Minister aware of the view held by some sections of the industry that any further increase in the export credits scheme could lead to a further erosion of design and tooling skills within the Australian car industry? Will the Minister give an assurance that any possible changes to the local content plan will be made with a view to maintaining these skills within Australia?

Senator BUTTON —I am aware of the concerns which Senator Foreman raises about sections of the motor vehicle industry and the component industry to possible changes which would lead to a further erosion of Australian design and also tooling for the motor vehicle industry. Those concerns have been expressed to me on a number of occasions. I remind Senator Foreman that the Government appointed the Car Industry Council, which is an industry body of representatives of plant manufacturers, component manufacturers, unions and others, in November last year to consider a number of questions relating to the post-1984 plan of the previous Government. The terms of reference which I drafted for the Car Industry Council specified that it should give consideration to design questions and how design elements might be retained in the Australian industry. The Car Industry Council, in its report, made some suggestions in relation to that matter which would have to be considered by the Government as a whole because basically they deal with questions of sales tax reductions and tax incentives of one kind or another. I mentioned the terms of reference of the Car Industry Council report simply to indicate that this important question has been in the minds of Ministers concerned for some time and it will remain so. The Government will certainly take those matters into account in considering the plan for the post-1984 period .