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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 24

Senator BUCKLAND (1:57 PM) —I note the time we have available to consider the legislation and see that I will not have time to go into the substantive part of my contribution now. I would like to say on these two textile, clothing and footwear bills that there is a need for what the government is suggesting it will be doing and that the Strategic Investment Program, the SIP scheme, is one that, on first reading, is something that is well and truly required, but I just wonder if it is too late. In the substantive part of my comments at a later time I want to go into the impact on the whole textile, clothing and footwear industry in my home state of South Australia of factory closures, cutbacks in the number of people in the industry—that is, of those surviving parts of the industry—and the greater use of people working as contractors in the textile, clothing and footwear sector.

I will not, as I would have liked, be able to go into those sections that deal with outworkers or those people working in what we often hear described as sweatshops. These are the people who will be affected and who will not, in fact, get any benefit from any SIP scheme set up by the government. However, the grant that will be set up to provide for research and development is, I believe, well overdue. It is one that will go a long way to help industry develop in this country. It will assist industry to compete against the cheap imports which on many occasions are of far inferior quality to products that are being sold in this country.

Senator Sherry —It will help the current accounts too.

Senator BUCKLAND —As Senator Sherry says, it will help the current accounts somewhat. Indeed, the quality of the product that we are receiving and the number of people that are being disadvantaged by cutbacks in the industry are matters that we need to take into account. We can throw money at the TCF industry now but we cannot redeem some of the past practices that we have foolishly let go. It seems to me that when there is a factory closure, too many people are absent—

Debate interrupted.