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Time for Government to help exporters.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/005 TUESDAY 11 JANUARY 2005 SENATOR LYN ALLISON LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO HELP EXPORTERS The Australian Democrats called on the Australian Government to do more to assist exporters following today's announcement of the second worst ever trade deficit figures. "It is worrying that while we continue to import more and more goods from overseas, Australian export figures are not improving," Senator Allison, Leader of the Australian Democrats said. The Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures showing that, in seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a deficit of $2,661m in November, an increase of $287m on the deficit in October. "The Government's policies of winding back the Export Marketing Development Grant, reducing incentives for Research and Development, and reducing tariffs have contributed to Australia's poor trade performance. "Incentives for property speculation and the recent election bribes have resulted in Australians spending up big on imported goods. "Australia's trade figures will continue to get worse as a result of this month’s tariff reductions for imported cars, clothing and other goods. The only way to improve our trade predicament is to boost exports. “The Australian Democrats policies would improve Australia’s trade performance by: • Freezing further tariff reductions unless they are matched by our trading partners; • Restoring full funding to the Export Market Development Grants Scheme; • Reviewing business taxes to encourage longer term productive investment rather than short-term speculation; • Increasing the tax deductions for business research and development to 150%; • Significant public re-investment in education and training to address Australia’s skills shortage; and • Improving the low participation rate of women in the Australian workforce by promoting more family-friendly policies such as paid maternity leave and low cost child care. "The Democrats believe that the Howard Government should include improving Australia's export performance as one of its key priorities for its fourth term. If it doesn't we will be faced with higher interest rates and a dangerously unbalanced economy," Senator Allison concluded. Media Contact - Katrina McGrath 0408 056 167