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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1109

Senator McMULLAN (Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services) (9.27 p.m.) —I thank honourable senators who have spoken in support of the legislation. I will not delay the Senate for long. People have been brief in their contributions on the legislation; therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to be lengthy in my response. As at least some senators have indicated in their contributions, this legislation is a reflection of an election announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) to extend the shipbuilding bounty in line with the general manufacturing industry tariff; that is, to reduce the rate at which the tariff is phased down. The legislation was introduced in the last session and we are proceeding with it here today with somewhat greater speed than we were until yesterday. I am grateful for that and I promise to say no more on that, as I caused enough trouble about that yesterday.

  The current legislation, as everybody knows, would have provided for the bounty to be reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent much more quickly. This would have been ahead of the average of the general manufacturing tariff. As a whole, it will reduce to five per cent from 1 July 1996. This is an industry that has been very successful. The legislation reflects the government's belief that Australia's builders in this area deserve at least the same backing from the government that other Australian manufacturers get while they tackle the competitive challenges ahead.

  I will not divert to respond to the comments made by Senator Short and, in particular, Senator Spindler. I missed the last of Senator Spindler's comments while I was walking down to the chamber. But we have had these sorts of discussions in the past, and I will not reiterate them. I have to apologise to Senator Margetts. I missed the thrust of her comments. I will have a look at them in the Hansard and follow them up. I cannot respond intelligently because I heard only the last few words. I missed her contribution while I was walking down here.

  While in the Senate we have diverse views about issues of tariffs, protection, assistance to industry and industry policy generally, I think we all share in the pleasure that a successful industry with strong export growth such as this provides. This is legislation which will assist the transition process and maximise the possibility of the industry continuing to be successful. I thank the Senate for its support and commend the bill to the Senate.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.