Two senior Rann Government Ministers have given conflicting answers in Parliament as to whether a $35 million Rann Government grant to Mitsubishi would have to be repaid if they closed their manufacturing plant in South Australia, Shadow Minister for Industry and Trade Rob Lucas said today.
“In simple terms, either Treasurer Foley or Minister Holloway has misled the Parliament on this critical issue,” Mr. Lucas said.
During Estimates Committee questioning on October 24, 2006, Treasurer Kevin Foley made it clear Mitsubishi would have to repay the $35 million grant:
“Under the existing loan agreement the state government has advanced $35 million to Mitsubishi out of a potential total of $40 million……We have a parent company guarantee against our advance, and it would be repayable should Mitsubishi no longer continue to operate in South Australia.”
Hansard, K. Foley, October 24, 2006
“Subsequent to Mr. Foley’s announcement, a number of media outlets (e.g. The Australian 26/10/06; The Sunday Mail 29/10/06) reported the Rann Government’s position that Mitsubishi would have to repay the $35 million,” Mr. Lucas said.
However, in Parliament on May 24, 2004, Minister Paul Holloway made it clear Mitsubishi would not have to repay the $35 million:
“The government will not seek repayment of the $35 million already paid.”
Hansard, P. Holloway, May 24, 2004
“Repayment of taxpayer funded corporate assistance, or ‘clawback provisions,’ have been a major political issue in SA for many years as Mr. Rann and Mr. Foley have been adamant that funding should be repaid if businesses close down. In fact, on a number of occasions, they attacked former Premiers Olsen and Brown on this issue.
”Mr. Rann and Mr. Foley would be guilty of gross hypocrisy if they have given one of the biggest corporate assistance packages ever by any State Government without requiring repayment,” Mr. Lucas said.
When this issue was raised in Parliament today, Minister Holloway was unable to provide answers to a series of questions as to whether he had misled the Parliament or whether Treasurer Foley had misled the House.
“In fact, the best he could do was telling Parliament he would need to look at the question before providing a response!
“Given the significance of this issue, and the fact it involves $35 million of taxpayers money, either Mr. Foley or Mr. Holloway should be forced to resign if they have misled the Parliament,” Mr. Lucas said.