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Tuesday, 25 June 1996
Page: 2715


Mr TIM FISCHER (Minister for Trade)(9.55 p.m.) —The submission by the member for Cunningham (Mr Martin) might have been half believable if the Australian Labor Party had sought to inject this amendment into the legislation when it was considered in the Senate earlier in this session. But the truth of the matter is that they did not. You have been advised now by the member for Perth (Mr Stephen Smith) that you have pursued one course of action in the Senate and are now pursuing a different course of action in the House of Representatives.


Mr Martin —This is where the government is.


Mr TIM FISCHER —I concede that this is by far the most important chamber. I think that you and I would agree on that. We have indeed agreed on that. I respect the Senate. It is the house of review. It has a role to play. But there is an early lesson for the opposition to learn, as they embark on that long period of opposition which awaits them: you get caught out if you vary your tactical approach from one house to the other.

If the Labor Party and this opposition genuinely believed in what they are about this night, we might have heard them move the same set of amendments in the Senate. You have about 30 senators up there. But not one of them, including your designated representative, chose to put down this particular amendment. I think that I have now effectively exposed the fact that the opposition is being inconsistent, too smart by half in a sense.

I have a great deal of respect for the member for Cunningham. I hear him say that he wanted to have first chop at this amendment. He wanted to do this in what he regards as the superior house. That is why he would not let his colleague representing him in the Senate move a substantive motion.

The truth of the matter is that the tourism industry is extremely important to Australia. It has come from nowhere to everywhere. In recent years it has involved a great deal of inbound tourists from countries such as Korea, whereas 15 to 20 years ago there were almost no inbound tourists from Korea or Malaysia. Today there are very significant numbers from those and other Asian countries. Following my recent visit to South America, I believe that there will be enhanced air links and enhanced trade investment and tourism between Australia and South America.


Mr Latham —Name some.


Mr TIM FISCHER —I will. I refer to the air links particularly between Sydney, Papeete, Easter Island and Santiago. I am pleased to advise the House in response that a co-share agreement has been reached between Qantas and Lan-Chile to open a new air link between Australia and South America, which will further enhance the tourism industry.


Mr Latham —What has that got to do with you?


Mr TIM FISCHER —It has everything to do with the efforts of the coalition government to boost some of the links which the Labor Party when in government neglected. I listened carefully to the members for Cunningham and Perth, and even more carefully to the member for Capricornia (Mr Marek). I point out to the House that the amendment you seek to move in this House you did not seek to move in the Senate.


Mr Marek —Thirteen years.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Order! The member for Capricornia will not contribute when he is out of his seat.


Mr Latham —He is out of his tree.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —And the member for Werriwa will restrain himself as well.


Mr TIM FISCHER —So you are being somewhat inconsistent in your approach. I say again in clear-cut terms that it is a matter which, quite properly, the government will address in the budget context.

I invite the member for Cunningham to return to this matter after he has been to the Olympic Games. I wish him well with his trip to the Olympics. I hope that his help will boost the momentum towards some gold medals, silver medals and bronze medals at the Olympics.

At the end of the day, this is a nonsense amendment. The member for Cunningham knows it is a nonsense amendment in terms of its timing. As I said before, it is one which the coalition will quite properly address, one way or the other, with regard to our commitment in respect of the budget on 20 August. It is for those reasons that the government supports the underlying bill but rejects the amendments moved by the member for Cunningham.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —The time allotted for the remaining stages of the bill has expired. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.