Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Support for Commonwealth Entities) Bill 2017; Second Reading
I rise to speak on the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Support for Commonwealth Entities) Bill 2017. Have you got a good business idea? Have the banks refused your requests for a loan? Then get a loan from the government; it's getting back into the banking business. It has got the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will provide you with a loan if you tell the public servants that your business idea will save the climate. The Abbott government had wanted to abolish this green bank, but after the Senate rejected the idea and we got a new Prime Minister, the government is now an enthusiastic supporter.
The government wants to establish the Regional Investment Corporation, which will provide you with a loan if you tell the public servants that if you don't get a concessional loan your farm will be taken over by a larger, more-efficient farmer—we just couldn't have that. Now, the government is expanding the role of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, so it doesn't just provide loans. If you've got a business idea relating to the exporting of manufactured goods that no bank will touch, now the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, through this bill, will offer loans. If you've got a business idea relating to tourism but can't get a loan from a bank because they assess your idea as bonkers, all you need to do is point out to the public servants that some of the tourists you hope for will be foreigners.
The same applies if you've got an idea for an online business. If you point out to the public servants that some of the online customers you hope for will be foreigners, you're in. If your idea relates to intellectual property, and no bank thinks it's worth a pinch of salt, then you're in luck too, provided you point out to the public servants that some foreigners might use your intellectual property. You'll even be able to get a loan from the government's Export Finance and Insurance Corporation if you want to invest overseas, provided you mention to the public servants that some indirect benefit will flow back to Australia. So what are you waiting for? If you want a loan and the banks have knocked you back, there's a government bank that's ready to hand you some taxpayers' cash. Commercial viability is no longer a prerequisite. All you need is to have an idea that suits the political breeze.
I hear the cynics out there pooh-poohing this development. They say that government banking makes us poorer by diverting cash to ideas that aren't as profitable as the ideas supported by commercial banks. They say that, when loans turn bad, government banking makes unwilling taxpayers instead of willing bank shareholders take the hit. They also make annoying references to the history of government banks—but it will be different this time, somehow! I don't think it will come as a surprise that the Liberal Democrats oppose the establishment of government banks, which make us all poorer. I will be opposing this bill. Unfortunately, I'll probably be alone in doing so.