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Tuesday, 15 October 1996
Page: 4152

Senator COOK —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Tourism. I refer to Minister Moore's portfolio responsibility for the computer bounty. Is it not true that three of the companies in which Bligh Ventures has a substantial holding are in receipt of computer bounty funding—that is, RSM Research, which received $24,200 in 1995-96; Elpro Technologies, which received $36,900; and JTEC, which received $1,102,400? Is it not true that, of the five bounties axed in the budget, only the computer bounty was continued beyond budget night—that is, until June 1997? Why did the computer bounty get such special treatment? How can this possibly be a decision that does not in any way relate to the activities of Bligh Ventures?

Senator PARER —As Mr Moore has clearly pointed out, Bligh Ventures is a venture capital investor. Again, I will speak slowly. It invests as a minority shareholder in other companies. It does not of itself manufacture, m-a-n-u-f-a-c-t-u-r-e, anything, grow anything or develop anything. Mr Moore has made it very clear that he is not aware of any investments made by Bligh Ventures up to the end of the 12-month period until he has read the annual report. I have nothing more to add to the answer I have given.

Senator COOK —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the minister confirm that the purpose of a venture capital company is to invest in order to make a profit—

Government senators —Hooray!

The PRESIDENT —Order! I cannot hear the question.

Senator COOK —and that the firms in which it invested it did so in order to make a profit and all of them were in receipt of the computer bounty which was continued on when the bounties in other areas were cut off? Minister, can you assure this chamber that the prospectus for Bligh does not encourage would-be investors in that company because of its desire to invest in high technology stocks?

Senator Knowles —Why don't you try to make it sensible?

Senator PARER —It is very hard to answer that question. The first question Senator Cook asked was: is it true that venture capital companies invest in order to make a profit? Venture capital is, by its very nature, risky. I would have to give you an answer that, on behalf of investors and potential investors, I would really hope that is their intent, Senator Cook. Minister Moore has made it very clear that he has no idea what particular companies that company invests in. It is a venture capital company; it acts as a minority shareholder. Until the annual report comes out, Minister Moore has no idea as to what they have invested in over what period of time. I also repeat the fact—(Time expired)

Senator Hill —Madam President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper .