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Wednesday, 7 June 1989
Page: 3528


Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(12.46) —We must not get confused about these things. It is great joy to a politician's heart, as we have seen in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, to tell corporations what they ought to do in terms of commercial decision-making. The AIDC is not like that. That is why the national interest provisions are there. If there is anything that a Minister wants to tell the AIDC to do, he has to bring it to the Parliament under the national interest provisions. That is in section 8a of the legislation. We are talking here about the annual corporate plan which is presented to the Minister. That may contain some highly confidential material.


Senator Lewis —We are not seeing the corporate plan, only the direction.


Senator BUTTON —I understand that, but if honourable senators see the directions without the corporate plan, the chances are that it would be meaningless. If they see the directions with the corporate plan, the chances are that it would be immensely damaging to the commercial confidentiality of the AIDC.


Senator Lewis —It sounds like Yes, Minister.


Senator BUTTON —It is all very well to bleat in here, but that is not the honourable senator's function. The fact is that those two propositions are correct. We either give a direction which is published here, which is meaningless, or give a direction plus the corporate plan and then we damage the organisation. That is where the bureaucratic interference problem arises. The Corporation has an outstanding record as a commercial organisation and has been the largest investor of any financial corporation of its kind in Australian industry development. It has maintained an outstanding commercial record. It is not our business to make judgments about how it does that, so long as it discharges its fundamental objectives. It was not set up to provide venture capital; we have another vehicle for that. We can each intrude our own wishes into the matter, but that will not help very much.

Amendments agreed to.

Amendments (by Senator Lewis)-by leave-agreed to:

Page 6, clause 13, lines 1 to 9, leave out the clause.

Page 6, clause 14, lines 10 to 24, leave out the clause.

Page 7, clause 18, lines 18 to 21, leave out the clause.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.