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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3088

Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(10.10) —I want to address briefly a few points that were made by Senator Durack. I think his arguments can be summarised in this way: The Government's legislation does not deal with the real issue and industry should be encouraged to do things itself and be more competitive. The honourable senator more or less encapsulated his view in an interjection he made when Senator Cook was speaking. He said that governments should get out of industry's hair. I think that is a fair enough summary of the main thrust of his comments.

Senator Durack also said that the Government was setting up another quango, that the cost would be $200m and, that an additional bureaucracy would be created and so on. I just want to deal very briefly with some of those points. The difference between this Government and the Government in which Senator Durack was a Minister in respect of trade is that the honourable senator's Government set up three quangos to deal with trade in addition to a very large Trade Department and, of course, the Trade Commissioner Service. This legislation will get rid of three quangos and establish a single statutory authority which, in addition to the functions of those three bodies, also incorporates the functions of the Trade Commissioner Service. In fact, the Commission will be governed by a single board of directors which, as other speakers have pointed out, will be substantially made up of people from outside the Public Service. Senator Durack said by way of interjection when the names of those directors were read out that the board of the Australian Trade Commission would be like that of the Australian Industry Development Corporation. He went on to say that the AIDC had not been a very successful body. I think he ought to read the reports of the AIDC. It was not a very successful body in the early period of the Government of which the honourable senator was a member. However, its performance has been extraordinary.

Senator Sanders —Who are you talking to? We didn't say anything. Are you talking to them?

Senator BUTTON —I am talking to Liberal and National Party senators. This is the sort of comment that has been made. I do not know what is meant by the suggestion that the Australian Trade Commission will cost $200m. A total of $117m will be used for export market development grants. Is Senator Durack saying that that system should be got rid of? If so, he should say so outside this place. Similarly, $30m will be devoted to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation. Is he saying that the EFIC facility should be got rid of? If he believes that he should say so outside this place. He should say that to industry. However, he was fairly silent on those points. There is also a cost in respect of the Trade Commissioner Service. That cost already exists. So there is no additional cost as a result of the establishment of the Commission. Senator Durack should know that the change will result in a division in the traditional personnel and functions of the Department of Trade.

I have dealt with essentially the main points that arose from what Senator Durack said. I found his remarks negative and churlish, which I think is extraordinary for a man of his normally generous disposition. However, I guess that is due to the fact that we are now at the end of the year and we have been sitting a lot of late nights. I commend the Bills to the Senate.

Question put:

That the Bills be now read a second time.