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Tuesday, 11 May 1993
Page: 379

Senator COULTER —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that both the Federal Labor Government and the State Labor Government of South Australia began the MFP initiative with a promise that this project would be substantially privately funded? How long is it since the project was initiated? How much have the two governments now either spent or committed to the MFP? What firm commitment does the MFP have at this stage and from which private companies? What are the amounts involved and when will these commitments materialise?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The MFP Development Corporation is a State statutory body, as I guess Senator Coulter would be aware, that is responsible to the South Australian Parliament for the management of the project on behalf of the Federal and State governments. While the concept was first discussed in 1987 the establishment legislation was only passed in April 1992 and the board had its first meeting in December last year and it has just appointed a CEO.

  In June 1992 an agreement was signed between the Commonwealth and South Australia on their respective responsibilities on the MFP. The MFP against this background has to be seen as a long-term project. It will be developed over some 20 to 30 years. It is therefore really quite premature to criticise the level of private involvement that exists at the moment, as Senator Coulter's question implies. Nonetheless, the private sector is heavily involved in the project and this is expected to grow, and the board is certainly drawing heavily on private sector expertise.

  A number of projects are being developed now with a view to private sector involvement in areas such as tele-medicine, international software training and media. The first commercial MFP project was announced last June involving the formation of a privately owned MFP services company to implement environmentally and commercially sustainable strategies for waste management, as well as provision of water, electricity and gas for the MFP site itself. Interest from the international business community is being managed through the MFP's international advisory board.

  Finally, on the question of costs, the Commonwealth has committed up to $70 million, including a contribution to start-up costs, servicing for the international advisory board, support for MFP developments in other States, investigation into energy efficient utilities, support services for the MFP, the provision of 50 DAS staff to assist in research and development of the site and provision of building better cities funding for the core site. In addition, a wide range of Commonwealth programs have been identified as potentially providing support for the MFP. At the South Australian level, that government has established an enterprise zone for the MFP offering fast tracking of regulation and approval processes, concessional electricity and water charges and 10-year relief from taxes and charges.