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Wednesday, 19 May 1993
Page: 833


Senator FOREMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Science and Small Business. The Minister would be aware that the South Australian Premier, Mr Arnold, last week held meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo. Has the Minister seen reports regarding Japanese concerns that have been raised about the future of the multifunction polis, and are these reports accurate?


Senator SCHACHT —Yes, I have seen the press reports regarding comments made by Mr Yahiro, who is a former chairman of Mitsui, during the visit of Mr Arnold, the South Australian Premier, to Japan last week. However, I would say that, on the whole, the comments made by Mr Yahiro during a speech he made at the Australian embassy reception for Mr Arnold were very positive. Although he acknowledged that the MFP had been affected by the global economic downturn, he also indicated that there was still strong continuing interest by Japan in the MFP. He focused on progress made by the MFP in spite of these international economic conditions, including the establishment of the MFP Development Corporation, chaired by Mr Alex Morokoff, and comprising members from the Australian business community, the appointment of the corporation board itself, the appointment of Mr Ross Kennan, the chief executive officer of the MFP Development Corporation Board, the establishment of the close links with the international advisory body and the continuing strong interest by the Japanese through the Japanese support organisation. He also made very positive reference to the Arnold Government's recent economic policy statement `Meet the Challenge'.


Senator Ian Macdonald —Like the State Bank.


Senator SCHACHT —I notice Senator Macdonald interjecting again. He may be surprised to know that, according to an opinion poll published today, the Labor Party is ahead again in South Australia.


Senator Alston —Clutching at straws again.


Senator SCHACHT —No, not clutching at straws—


Senator Vanstone —You haven't seen a winning poll there for months.


Senator SCHACHT —I point out to Senator Macdonald and Senator Vanstone, before they get too cheeky about the Arnold Government, that there are indications that the Arnold Government has a very good chance of being re-elected, despite the best efforts of the Opposition to talk down South Australia's opportunity, including the MFP.

  It is unfortunate that some people in the Opposition in South Australia and here, as well as one Australian Democrat, Senator Coulter, would do everything possible to talk down the MFP, not just as a South Australian project but as a national and international project. I am very pleased to be able to do what I can on behalf of the Australian Government to make a very strong commitment to the MFP Development Corporation Board in order to get the MFP up and running over the next 12 to 18 months.

  We believe that Mr Kennan, the new chief executive who comes with extraordinarily good credentials, will be in the best position to attract the private sector investment that we need in the MFP during the next 12 to 18 months, despite the best efforts by some opposite to do everything possible to torpedo this very important national and international project.