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Tuesday, 13 May 1980
Page: 2161

Senator CHANEY (Western Australia) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I thank honourable senators for their support of the Bounty (Ships) Bill 1980. 1 will endeavour to respond briefly to the matters which were raised by honourable senators in the debate on this Bill. Senator Walsh asked me why no bounty was being paid on ships for export. He wanted to know the rationale for that. The advice I have on the matter is that to pay bounty in that situation is simply to leave ourselves open to a countervailing duty being imposed by the importing country. We would be transferring money from one government to another. That is not really in the national interest. For that reason alone the Government would be reluctant to enter into that sort of arrangement. My advice also is that it is not a general practice to pay bounty on exports.

The honourable senator, leading for the Opposition, also asked whether the import component would qualify for bounty. He accurately pointed out that a ship made in Australia may well contain imported items. The answer to that question is that the bounty is payable on the manufactured cost of the vessel. Therefore, one might ask what the limits are. The inherent limit is that the ship must be constructed in this country. Therefore, it would be subject to that test. The actual construction of the ship must have been here.

Senator Keeffemade reference to what I think he referred to as 'whispers' of allegations about the previous system of bounty.

Senator Keeffe - I did not use the word whispers '. They are very loud noises.

Senator CHANEY -My recollection is that the honourable senator used the word whispers'. In any event, he suggested that he was not making accusations or raising queries. I suggest that if he has serious matters to raise they should be raised with the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) and be put to him in a very direct way. My own experience of Senator Keeffe is that he is very ready to put his pen to paper and raise matters which he thinks are in the interests of his constituents. I suggest that if he really does have allegations in this area they should be brought to the attention of the Minister in detail and not as a matter of generality.

Senator Keefferaised the matter of the eligibility of shipbuilders. He expressed concern about the operation of previous legislation. There are two limitations under this Bill. Firstly, the ship must be constructed in a registered yard. My advice is that any yard may become registered simply by applying to be registered. Any ship constructed in Australia which meets the requirements of size, weight and so on is eligible for the bounty. The other limitation is that the ship must not be for export. So, it is not a discretionary matter as to whether the bounty is payable, so long as the criteria which are laid down in the legislation are met. So that the sorts of difficulties which are concerning Senator Keeffe do not arise under the legislation which is before the Senate. I commend the Bill to the Senate and thank the Opposition for its support.

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