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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2882

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I refer the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce to reports of serious differences within the Government over the appropriate response it should make to the recent report on protection for the Australian textile, clothing and footwear industries. What stage has been reached in settling these differences? When can a decision by the Government be expected so that uncertainties can be laid to rest?

Senator BUTTON —I would not be too concerned about laying uncertainties to rest. The uncertainties have been about for many years. I do not think that the current situation heightens the drama by more than a couple of degrees. Insofar as the honourable senator's question relates to differences within the Government, there are often differences within the Government about various issues but this Government has always had the capacity to resolve them and make decisions which are in the best interests of the community. That will be apparent in any decision that is made on this matter, as it has been on others. I am unable to say precisely when a decision will be announced. But I can assure the honourable senator that as soon as I know, I will let him know.