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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1108

Senator MARGETTS (9.25 p.m.) —I echo many of the comments made by Senator Spindler. Whilst the Greens will be supporting the Bounty (Ships) Amendment Bill 1993, we feel that some of those people within the industry may feel like it is a choice between death by bullet or death by starvation. We agree to the bill because it enables some time for the shipbuilding industry to adjust to the effects of a reduction in the bounty that is currently paid. But it tends to be made necessary by the loss of government revenue caused by tariff reductions and the need to be consistent with the current blind faith in free trade. Neither has been assessed as to its social and economic implications.

  I ask that, before we go so far that we cannot turn back, there is some attempt to assess the impact of the removal of both tariffs and bounties. Perhaps we should ask some questions. Are we gaining jobs? Are we becoming more efficient? What are the effects on our balance of trade and our balance of payments? This is often used as the reason for which we take these policy actions.

  The kind of information that is available in policy performance statements would help us a great deal, should we ever be given the chance to choose with regard to that great level playing field in the sky—the Uruguay Round of GATT. The Greens would suggest that perhaps, as we make great changes to our trade policies that will affect people as we go along, it would only make sense to assess whether they are achieving what they say they are achieving, so that we can make better decisions in the future.