(Australian Associated Press)
Australian exporters seeking to grow their businesses overseas will get easier access to taxpayer-funded loans after new laws cleared federal parliament.
The legislation expands the powers of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation to allow direct lending to a wider range of small and medium-sized businesses.
It provides loans to exporters who are unable to get finance from banks to expand overseas.
The legislation passed the Senate on Wednesday after the government agreed to several Labor amendments, and was later approved by the lower house.
“We need to foster an environment where Australia’s exporters can grow,” Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos told parliament.
“The evidence is very clear, Australian companies that export abroad are more productive, they pay higher wages and in that sense they make a premium contribution to the Australian economy.”
Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, who joined the Greens to vote against the legislation, slammed the lending of public money to businesses that failed to secure bank loans.
“If you want a loan and the banks have knocked you back, there’s a government bank that’s ready to hand you some taxpayer cash,” he told parliament.
“All you need is to have an idea that suits the political breeze.”
Senator Sinodinos conceded there were risks associated with the loans given some business ventures could fail.