Comment on Senate Committee report on Efic Bill

27 Mar, 2019

ACFID has responded to the news that the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee has published its report on the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Support for Infrastructure Financing) Bill 2019 [Provisions] and have recommended it is passed without amendment.

ACFID has expressed its disappointment in the Committee’s decision.

CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell, said:

“This Bill is being rushed through, despite the serious concerns that have been raised. The infrastructure facility – which this Bill enables – is the biggest change to the Australia aid program in a decade and the Government has already earmarked $500m from the existing aid budget to make it happen. It has simply not received the public and parliamentary scrutiny it deserves, particularly when funds will be withdrawn from existing aid programs to fund it.

“This Bill puts aside the interests of Australia’s neighbours in favour of boomerang aid for Australian businesses. It is inconsistent with building long-term relationships with Australia’s partners and they will see through this scheme.

“The public should be able to determine what the Government is proposing with $1.2bn of tax-payer backed lending. Efic’s exemptions from Freedom of Information and the shroud of commercial-in-confidence means that cannot happen.

“Our concerns were heightened when it was revealed that Efic provided support to grow Australian weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. We are troubled by the reticence to give this more time to address the concerns raised and ensure that Efic’s operations are fit-for-purpose and that this legislation will not lead to unintended consequences.

“Errors in infrastructure financing decisions made in the first 18 months can’t be rectified by a statutory review. We can’t simply redesign or tear-up an ill-conceived project that’s already been constructed. We need proper parliamentary scrutiny and a longer period of consultation and design of the initiatives and projects that Efic intends to facilitate and fund.”

ENDS

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Authorised by Marc Purcell, Deakin.