CANBERRA, June 12 Australian industries received
more than A$17 billion ($16.05 billion) in government protection
in the previous fiscal year, including tax breaks, tariffs and
handouts, with hard-pressed car builders and manufacturers the
biggest beneficiaries, a new report shows.
As the government considers more support for car builders
after Ford Motor Co announced it would close two
Australian auto plants due to a strong currency and local costs,
the report about government support said the auto industry
received A$1.1 billion in assistance in the year that ended
June 30, 2012.
Net assistance for all industry that year amounted to an
estimated A$10.5 billion, said the report prepared by the
independent Productivity Commission, the government's main
advisory body on competition issues.
Australia's government is a strong supporter of free trade
and low tariff barriers, and is often critical of support for
agriculture given by export competitors including the United
States and Japan.
But the report, released on Wednesday, said primary
producers in Australia received almost A$1.6 billion in combined
assistance last fiscal year, including A$891 million in taxpayer
support and A$548 million in tax concessions.
"The effective rate of assistance for manufacturing is
around 4 percent and 3 percent for agriculture," the commission
The biggest individual recipient sectors in primary
production were beef, sheep and grain growers, who received
combined assistance worth A$550 million, it added.
The country's powerful resource sector, which is only just
coming down from a record mining export boom, received support
worth A$492 million, including A$400 million in budget support,
even though tariff support was wound back.
The biggest sector to benefit was manufacturing, which
received more than A$7.3 billion in support, including almost
A$1.4 billion in public funding from the budget, A$362 million
in tax concessions and A$5.6 billion in net tariff support.
The country's powerful coal, petroleum and chemical
industries received assistance worth A$926 million, outstripped
only by the food, tobacco and beverages sectors.
While Toyota Motor Corp this week said it was
committed to continued manufacture in Australia, the commission
report found effective assistance rates for car manufacturers
and automotive parts suppliers of around 9 percent.
Also well above average was support granted to textiles and
footwear manufacturers - also hit hard by overseas competition
and high local costs - with effective assistance worth 7