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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1956

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Am 1 correct in understanding that the declared policy of the Labor Party relating to financial assistance to industry is that in future no subsidies or financial assistance of any sort will be paid to industries before a full investigation has been made by an independent commission? The Minister will be aware of the great consternation that this has caused not only in rural areas but in many other areas owing to the fact that instances of decisions beyond the control of the producer or the manufacturer can greatly harm those individuals. I refer to such matters as variations in the rate of currency and economic conditions which are beyond the control of the individual, even weather conditions.

The PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator is allowed to elaborate to the extent that it makes the question plain.

Senator WEBSTER -Thank you, Mr President. I ask the Minister: ls this policy which the Labor Party has espoused intended to be brought into being by the Industries Assistance Commission Bill? Am I correct in understanding that yesterday the Prime Minister promised that subsidy assistance would be paid as protection for the manufacture in Australia of selected electronic components? Does this appear to the average person as a double standard?

Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator is asking me to give, in effect, a statement of Government policy in answer to a question. That cannot be done. I can tell him that the Industries Assistance Commission Bill is an indication of Government policy and is one matter on which the Opposition will have a chance to express an opinion and to have a full debate. It is No.7 in the Orders of the Day on the notice paper. The honourable senator should not expect me to give an exposition of the purposes and effect of that Bill now. He knows well that the Government has taken other measures which have been of assistance such as the 25 per cent tariff cut, currency revaluations and a whole series of other measures which have been of assistance to industry throughout Australia; so much so that the rural area is booming, there is full employment, there is prosperity over the country and with that prosperity come, as always, some attendant problems which are being dealt with by the Treasurer in his usual prudent and wise manner.

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