The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says a proposal for federal parliament to establish a joint parliamentary committee to investigate creating an Australia Fund has won government support.
Mr Palmer said the committee would examine ways to provide support for Australia’s rural and manufacturing industries and provide immediate assistance in the fastest possible time to Australians in need following natural disasters such as drought, bushfires and floods.
“Government by its very nature is slow to act and parliament is slower to take action,” he said.
“But when there is a natural disaster and major economic needs, the response by government needs to be better than it has been. The financial muscle of the Commonwealth has rarely been flexed as it could be to assist Australians in time of need.”
Mr Palmer said the Australia Fund, which he first raised in parliament in February this year, would have the ability, on the basis of an assessment of the industry and/or businesses, to provide emergency and on-going drought/flood/bushfire relief, loan money to businesses, act as a guarantor for loans, capitalise or waive interest, purchase existing bank loans, and assume control of relevant property of the business for a specified time.
“In this way, the fund would be designed to enable businesses to continue operations to earn revenue, employ workers and pay taxes, rather than be prematurely wound up, and support communities affected by natural disasters,” he said.
“It would also provide funds for industry and/or company restructuring and the acquisition of new technologies to make businesses more economically viable and internationally competitive.”
Mr Palmer said as part of its investigation on the need for the fund, the joint parliamentary committee would undertake hearings in all capital cities and major rural centres and examine the impact on rural Australia of on-going drought and world market price fluctuations for primary industry produce.
“The committee’s terms of reference also include reviewing existing bankruptcy and insolvency laws with the aim of introducing legislation designed to assist companies to trade through difficult times, rather than be closed down,” he said.
The committee is scheduled to deliver its final report and recommendations to parliament on or before June 30, 2015.