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Wednesday, 25 March 1987
Page: 1501


Mr SINCLAIR (Manager of Opposition Business)(4.23) —The gripping rhetoric of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen) had all his colleagues enthralled! Not one of them stopped talking throughout the whole of his speech, when we were told that for some reason the Government is running scared of a debate. Everybody needs to know that the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett), that brilliant rhetorician sitting opposite, the man who knows all about the problems of health, has not yet responded in this House to any of the questions that we have validly raised. My colleague the honourable member for Barker (Mr Porter) and others on this side of the House have asked questions, and not one of those has been answered by the Minister for Health. What is going to happen now? We have been told that we have until 4.45 p.m. to complete the Committee debate. We will then have until 5 p.m. to complete the debate on the rest of the Bill.

I have never heard more balderdash in my life than that which came from the Deputy Prime Minister. All I can say is, thank goodness the Leader of the House (Mr Young) will not be away for long. The Deputy Prime Minister claims that for some reason there will be any amount of opportunity to debate this legislation in the Senate but no opportunity here at all. If he really wants the Senate to debate the legislation, I should tell him that both this House and the other place will be sitting next week. Today is Wednesday. There is no reason why we cannot continue our debate. On this side of the House we are particularly concerned because a range of people who are adversely affected by the provisions within this identity card legislation have not yet had their questions answered.

There is no satisfactory answer to the cost of the introduction of this legislation. There is no satisfactory answer as to why 2,000 public servants will be needed to supervise it. There is no satisfactory answer as to why legislation is being guillotined through this House on 25 March when it will not come into effect for the average Australian until some time in the 1990s. It is five years before we will be called on to use our identity card. What is the urgency? Why does the Deputy Prime Minister have to hurry the legislation? Let us be honest. He does not know whether his Left is going to stick. What this is all about is why Senator George Georges left the Australian Labor Party. None of the wimps in the Left in this place are game to stand up in the way they did in Caucus. They all know the legislation is wrong. They know, in their little corner opposite, that when they go back to their branches and their factions they will be asked by the Left wing: `Why the devil didn't you lot have the gumption to stand up and express your concern about the introduction of this obligatory identity card?'.

Members of the Left are very brave in their rhetoric when they are commenting across the chamber in Question Time but they are very short in their ability to respond when it counts. Where is the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Hand)? He is always in here. It is good to see him sitting on the front bench. We know he should be there but unfortunately he has a colleague here who does not agree about the quality of his talent. It is a great pity that members of the Left are not prepared to support the forceful advocacy that Senator Georges was prepared to express in public places. What is up with the left wing?

This is really what the Deputy Prime Minister is about. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Scott) is another member of the Left. They are all sitting opposite. We know what the Deputy Prime Minister is doing. He is applying the guillotine because he is afraid that his Left will go to revolt. He knows that they know that this legislation is a fraud. He knows that the Left of his party recognises this legislation as having no effect whatsoever on tax evasion. He knows that identity is not the problem in tax evasion and social welfare fraud. This legislation will have no effect. The only reason this guillotine is being applied is that the Deputy Prime Minister is afraid that he does not have the numbers.

We have not heard a great deal from the Deputy Prime Minister of late. We have heard from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), and we have all heard the Treasurer (Mr Keating), and I think the Attorney-General and Deputy Prime Minister has decided that he finally wants his voice to be heard. What a way to have it heard-to come into this House to gag debate on a measure that will not have effect for five years. The measure deserves to be defeated, this guillotine deserves to be defeated and we on this side of the House will not do anything to help the Government to hide its problems with its left wing from all the rest of the Australian people. We are going to oppose this Bill and I frankly hope that everybody in the left wing will support us when we do.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! Before I call the Minister for Health I ask for some quiet in the House so that the Minister can be heard. There was great difficulty hearing the last two speakers. I call the Minister.