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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2159

Mr BEAZLEY (Minister for Defence)(11.47) —The amendment is not agreed to but the motives behind it are not despised. The intention has been-and it is part of government policy-followed up with the appointments that we have made. We have an interim board which will become the full board. The areas designated for those three members include having qualifications in the following fields: Housing operations; property development or management; business management; real estate management; finance; building or construction management; or social planning. Indeed, the people from the private sector who have been appointed as the private members of this board all come into one or other of those categories of involvement in real estate management and development, property development or whatever. Leaving the appointments open is a little more sensible I believe than actually designating one of those specific areas as opposed to any of the others as an area from which a board member might be drawn.

When governments are setting up statutory authorities they sensibly usually leave themselves open to appointments from the widest possible range of people and do not place themselves under the sorts of constraints that the Opposition is suggesting. In some areas of government patronage it might be said that the circumstances which the honourable gentleman said might arise do arise under all governments. With the Defence Housing Authority I have not noticed, and would not anticipate, a mad scramble from people who like to go on such boards to get on this one. This is very much a working body-a body on which kudos comes not from one's membership of it, but from the satisfaction of a job well done. I do not think that there will be any requirement to constrain this or any other government in the way in which the amendment suggests because only people from the various categories associated with the building and housing industry will have the desire to serve on this body. Only people from those categories will be of any interest to this or future Labor governments. I do not think that the Opposition needs to be concerned, either about our appointments to date or the achievement of the objectives that it seeks in its amendment.

On the question of whether funds will be more readily made available by this Government or any of its alternatives in defence and other areas, I can only say this: We on this side of the chamber do not have to explain a $16 billion revenue shortfall because in our promises we are not aiming to achieve in some way or another such a revenue shortfall. Therefore we do not have to worry about the way in which--

Mr Spender —On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Leaving aside the repetition of something which is a fabrication-but I do not hold him guilty for that-the Minister has moved on to precisely the kind of matters that you said I should not move on to. You pointed out that the debate should be more constrained; I accepted your injunction, but the same rule should apply to the Minister.

The CHAIRMAN —With all deference to the honourable member for North Sydney, the reason I drew his attention to that matter was that I did not want this situation to occur. The honourable member for North Sydney does not seem to take all that much notice of me and seemed to feel that discussion on government funding was somehow or other germane to the Government's finding money to fund this Authority. The Minister is now talking about the Government's money and funding the Authority. The honourable member is only in this position because of his own activities.

Mr BEAZLEY —The point having been made, I shall leave it. Suffice it to say that our objective will be that within whatever outlays are permitted for defence, we will seek a situation in which the housing area is protected and, as a result of the establishment of this Authority, that will be easier and easier.

Amendment negatived.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.