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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 2035


Mr SINCLAIR (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(9.11) —I wish to respond to one comment the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) has made. The difference between calling out reserves and having the power to do so should be obvious. Take Cyclone Tracy for example. Had there been the power and the opportunity, there is little doubt that, instead of having to move people thousands of miles across Australia, reserves would have been called out. We are not saying that every time there is a cyclone elements of the defence forces or the Reserve should be called out. We all know how fortunate Australia was that Cyclone Tracy did not annihilate thousands upon thousands of people in Darwin. There was no legislative power to call out reserves at the time of Cyclone Tracy. The amendment we seek to make to the legislation is designed to provide that power. I refer the Minister to amended section 51d (1) at the beginning of clause 22, which states:

Where the Governor-General considers it desirable to do so . . .

That obviously means that the Executive Council, on the recommendation of the Government, and taking into account all the financial concerns the Minister has expressed, including quite obviously the paramount need to try to preserve the employment of the reserves and the status they would have in their ordinary workaday lives, would not call out the reserves other than in extreme emergencies. The amendment we have moved provides that flexibility. I put it to the Minister that between now and any debate in the Senate it could be well worth while to reflect further on this amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 23 to 49-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clauses 50 to 57-by leave-taken together.