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Australian Trade Commission Amendment Bill 1994



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House: Senate

Portfolio: Foreign Affairs and Trade

Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

The Bill will remove the current age requirements in relation to Board members appointed under the Australian Trade Commission Act 1985. Presently Board membership is restricted to people under 65 years of age.

Background

The Australian Trade Commission Act 1985 creates a Commission known as AUSTRADE whose primary function is to encourage trade between Australia and foreign countries. The Act also establishes a Board which determines the policy to be followed by AUSTRADE, in conducting its statutory functions.

AUSTRADE has an export focus and makes grants to exporters to support and encourage the establishment of overseas export markets.

In 1992 - 1993 AUSTRADE reported it assisted exporters in achieving new export sales of $4.24 billion. 1 Exporters who were surveyed about the contribution to the sales made by AUSTRADE reported this contribution was:

. 'minor' for exports worth $1.41 billion

. 'significant' for exports worth $2.54 billion; and

. 'invaluable' for exports worth $300 million. 2

There has been criticism of the Export Market Development Grants scheme administered by AUSTRADE as being inflexible in the level of grants offered, with narrow eligibility rules and a time- consuming and complex application process which made the scheme less effective for smaller exporters. 3

Main Provisions

Clause 3 of the Bill repeals the three subsections which require appointments of the part- time members of the Board to:

. not occur if a person is over 65 years;

. not extend beyond the age of 65 years; and

. expire where a person attains the age of 65 years.

The Bill will remove the current restriction on the appointment of Board members who are over 65 years of age.

The proposed changes are consistent with amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1988 making age discrimination unlawful. It would appear that this prohibition may not apply to persons employed under statute, for example public servants. The amendments make it plain that the AUSTRADE Board are to enjoy the same protections as private sector employees.

References

1 Australian Trade Commission, Annual Report 1992- 1993, page 6.

2 Ibid., page 6.

3 Report of Chamber of Commerce Survey, 'Austrade grants push', The Australian Financial Review, 19 April 1994.

Margaret Cotton (06) 277 2439

Bills Digest Service

Parliamentary Research Service

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1994

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1994.