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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3336


Mr McGAURAN(10.48) —I wish to speak of two matters of specific concern to primary industry and to the people of Gippsland. They relate to the dairy and fishing industries. The dairy industry is up in arms because the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) has, for the second time, knocked back a recommendation from the Australian Dairy Corporation for a 10 per cent increase in the domestic market price. The industry has estimated that this decision will mean a loss of revenue of more than $20m in 1983-84. I emphasise that amount-$20m. The Minister has tried feebly to justify his decision on the grounds that the increase could lead to greater milk production at a time of low international prices. I do not accept that argument for one moment; neither does the dairy industry.


Mr Cunningham —You ought to ask them.


Mr McGAURAN —Does the honourable member from McMillan accept that argument?


Mr Cunningham —Too right.


Mr McGAURAN —He does accept it. Let Hansard record that he does. It will be of great interest to the dairy industry and to the members of his electorate which, prior to his election, was a very fine dairy producing area. In fact, the Minister could very easily cause increased production by not allowing the increase recommended by the Corporation. Dairy farmers may now very well have to milk more cows to maintain their income, hence increasing overall production.


Mr Hand —They have never had it so good.


Mr McGAURAN —My attention has been drawn to the interjection of the honourable member for Melbourne that farmers have never had it so good. I simply say that that is sheer and absolute disregard of the financial plight of dairy farmers throughout this country, dairy farmers suffering under the mini-Budget of 19 May and the Budget of 23 August. Measures were taken in those Budgets which unhesitatingly discriminated against rural producers of this country, and each and every Government member ought to be ashamed of his disregard of the primary producers of this country. They have always hated the farmers. They hate the farmers because the farmers represent the true spirit of the Australian character-the spirit of entrepreneurism, the spirit of endeavour, the spirit of exploraton. They are men who take risks. They are the salt of the earth.

Honourable members interjecting-


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order. I have never heard such farmyard noises.


Mr McGAURAN —Your comment is totally appropriate, Mr Speaker. It is because the Australian farmer represents the true Australian spirit, the true Australian character, that these men opposite are resentful and dislike and distrust the Australian farmer.

In regard to the fishing industry, I invite all Government members, including the Minister for Defence Support (Mr Howe), to examine an advertisement which appeared in the Australian newspaper on 2 November. It was signed by no less than eight fishing organisations and accused this Government of selling the fishing industry down the drain, and they are their words. What greater indictment of government administration could we possibly get than that? It was a full page advertisement co-sponsored by no less than eight fishing organisations including the Victorian Professional Fishermen's Association. The simple fact is that the Labor Government is sending the fishing industry right up to northern Australia to the wall. This industry relies on diesel fuel more than any other industry; yet this Government has increased the fuel excise every six months. By so doing it will cost the fishing industry $3m this year alone. Do Government members care at all about the plight of fishermen-fishermen from Lake's Entrance to northern Australia? I do not think there is any doubt that they do not care in the slightest. Labor came to office with a ream of promises, as always, for the fishing industry. It has not implemented any worthwhile policies for the industry. The Government seems to have no knowledge at all of the fact that the fishing industry is one of the nation's most fuel intensive industries. Increased diesel prices will cost the industry at least $3m this year. This Government is destroying the Australian fishing industry, a major industry that earns some $360m in export income.


Mr Cadman —Why do they hate the fishermen?


Mr McGAURAN —This Government hates the fishermen because they have many things in common with Australian farmers-they represent the best things about the Australian character, things that are anathema to socialist beliefs.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.