Page 97

THe Last Sentry at the Gate 1

PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES to consider than cattle and sheep. Most rural towns and businesses rely on their trade, employment and small- scale manufacturing of the rural industries to support them. There are many rural properties that are involved in primary production that have not received any real assistance at all. I do not think this was by design of the government but the government’s advice, or any government advice may have been limited. It is time this House investigated if Australia can handle these situations better for the benefit of all Australians and the taxpayer. There are many challenges to face to ensure that economic policy in manufacturing is encouraged in this country, that Australia does what it does best and that government policy does not cause businesses to go broke. Our enterprises need, for legitimate reasons, to become more efficient and viable in the future. If they suffer some temporary disadvantage due to an adverse or unfair government policy or inaction, then the resolution of such issues are not dependent on the political process; rather we would have a proactive group which, once established, can act decisively, if needed, to preserve Australia’s interest. The fact remains that the Australian government is the No. 1 petitioner of bankruptcies and company liquidations in this county and the No. 1 destroyer of jobs and enterprises. If business could continue to trade—and jobs not be lost—the government and the taxpayer would be the winners. It does not make sense for the government to move people from productive employment to unemployment and Centrelink when their enterprise can continue and be sold to more capable management. If you look at the productivity of Australia today compared with yesterday, the Productivity Commission has a lot to answer for. Government needs sound advice not just from academics but from experienced wealth creators to form common-sense policies. The bill is just for this House to allow the setting up of a group of the House to consider these issues and report back to the House. The purpose of this bill is to establish a joint parliamentary committee to investigate establishing the Australia Fund. Such a fund would be designed to support and assist reconstruction of Australian rural and manufacturing industries in times of crisis, including natural disasters such as drought floods and bushfires, world financial crises and unfair market intervention or manipulation. It is envisaged that the Australia Fund would have the ability, on the basis of an assessment of industry or business, to: provide emergency relief and ongoing assistance in the event of drought, flood or bushfire; loan money to businesses; act as a guarantor for loans; capitalise; waive interest; purchase existing bank loans; and assume control of relevant property of businesses for a specified time. In this way, the body would be designed to enable business to continue operations, earn revenue, employ workers and pay taxes rather than being prematurely wound up. It would support communities affected by natural disasters. It would also provide funds for industry and company restructuring and the acquisition of new technologies to make businesses more viable and internationally competitive. As part of its investigation as to the need for the fund, the committee would undertake hearings in all capital cities and major rural centres, and would specifically examine the impact on rural Australia of the ongoing drought and world market price fluctuations for primary industry production. The committee’s terms of reference would also include reviewing existing bankruptcy and insolvency laws with the aim of introducing legislation designed to assist governments to trade through difficult times, rather than be closed down. The existing taxation laws relating to bankruptcy will also be reviewed. The possible introduction of an equivalent of the United States chapter 11 provisions would also be investigated. A ministry of support to the committee could be provided by the House or Senate departments. At the completion of its inquiry, the committee would table before parliament its detailed report and its findings and recommendations. I commend the bill to the House. The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia 75


THe Last Sentry at the Gate 1
To see the actual publication please follow the link above