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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4079

Mr LYNCH - My question is addressed to the Treasurer in the absence of the Minister for Overseas Trade and it concerns the Australian Industry Development Corporation. No doubt the Treasurer's colleague has kept the Treasurer very closely informed in recent developments concerning that Corporation. Is it a fact that the Australian Industry Development Corporation's proposed investment in the Redcliffs project is approximately 845m? What amount of funds can the AIDC borrow on its present capital of $50m? What is its full potential capacity to borrow under the Act? To what extent is that capacity being utilised at present? Having regard to the answers to these questions which the Treasurer no doubt will put on the record, will he not agree that his colleague has grossly misled this House by alleging that the AIDC has insufficient funds to enable it to expand and also by alleging that the Opposition's attitude to the new legislation is jeopardising the Redcliffs project?

Mr CREAN - As I indicated earlier this matter is not directly my ministerial concern. However, the AIDC, as presently constituted, was set up by an Act passed when the Opposition Parties were the Government for this country. The Act gave limited powers to the AIDC to borrow. In fact the Act states that the AIDC should seek to borrow principally overseas. At the moment the Australian Government, in view of the buoyancy of our overseas funds, sees no need to borrow overseas. We are endeavouring to widen the charter of the AIDC so that it can operate on the capital market internally. The Bill, at the moment, is meeting with some difficulty in being passed into law. My understanding is that existing funds of the AIDC are largely committed already to certain undertakings of a large kind, one of which is the Redcliffs project. Surely these days we ought not to be thinking of the AIDC in terms of an investment fund of $50m, rather we should be thinking in terms of $500m. That is the kind of capital development that this country requires and the sort of thing that is being talked about in the mineral fields, the gas fields and so on where in the ultimate the capital outlay is of a magnitude of billions of dollars. The majority of the capital funds available in Australia come from internal sources, but in our view they are not as properly mobilised as they should be and we see the AIDC as an agency to do that job better.

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