Senate debates

Thursday, 27 February 2020


Australian Business Growth Fund Bill 2019; In Committee

1:22 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

The more I hear about this bill, the more greatly it concerns me. I don't think you've been really up-front with the Australian people. This is based on the UK and Canadian equivalents, but in the UK and Canada there's no public money in it; it's all private investment. So my concern is: why would the Australian government want to get involved in this at this stage? Why don't the banks just put their money in and have something to do with it, not the Australian government and taxpayers' money? In fact, John Roskam, the executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, suggested that the use of $100 million of taxpayers' funds to invest in small-business enterprises was 'picking winners' and 'smacks of state socialism', and he indicated there were more important policy issues to resolve than access to credit for SMEs.

I know the government has been involved in other enterprises and the supply of funding. That was the case with the Regional Investment Corporation. RIC administers $2 billion for farm business loans and $2 billion for national water and infrastructure loans. The RIC is a corporate Commonwealth entity, and the Regional Investment Corporation Act 2018 provides for its governance arrangements, including the establishment, function and membership of the board. But this bill does not provide such governance arrangements in relation to the fund.

The unique status of the ABGF, the Australian Business Growth Fund, appears to be reflective of the government's intention of working with the banks and having the fund operate commercially, independent of the government. You're basically propping up the banks. The banks are going to get the majority of the loan here. I can't understand why the government would want to get involved in a commercial enterprise. Why are you getting involved in propping up the banks here when this is based on what's happened in the UK and Canada? They did not put any public moneys into this, and yet this government is intending to. As I said before, I want to know what returns you're going to get back on it.


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