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Monday, 1 June 1998
Page: 4272

Mr CREAN —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and it follows the answer just given. Does the Prime Minister recall his statement, when announcing the automotive tariff freeze almost a year ago:

This is a package. If it is amended in any way the package will be off. I ask the Senate to guarantee immediate passage.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that, one year later, the legislation putting the automotive package into place has not been brought before the parliament and is not even on the pre-poll priority list of your government? Prime Minister, what is your understanding of the meaning of the word `immediate'? Will you guarantee that you will not be backsliding on the car industry plan, never ever?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Devastating. Absolutely devastating questions. The member for Hotham and I think the member for Batman and a number of other frontbenchers in the Labor Party would no doubt have been present at the annual dinner held by the major automotive group here in Canberra last Monday night. In case there are other members of the House who might have wanted to be there could not get there, I inform the House of the ringing endorsement my government received from the industry for the quality of the decisions that we have taken in relation to the motor vehicle industry. Our policy decision was widely acclaimed by the motor vehicle industry. Our policy decision has saved thousands of jobs.

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. It goes to relevance, not to the plan which was our plan, after all, but when he is intending to legislate for it.

Mr SPEAKER —That is entirely irrelevant to a point of order.

Mr Crean —When will the Prime Minister legislate? Haven't you let the industry down by saying a year ago that you would do it immediately?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is entirely within the standing orders.

Mr HOWARD —The policy we announced was a great policy. The policy we announced will be fully implemented. The policy that we announced has the support not only of the industry but also of the trade unions involved in the automotive industry. The legislation will be introduced and we will honour in full what we announced.