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Tuesday, 10 March 1998
Page: 909


Mr TAYLOR (10:45 PM) —A couple of months ago the honourable member for Oxley (Ms Hanson) was looking around for an issue. Her stocks were arguably at an all-time low. What did she come up with? She came up with the so-called Multilateral Agreement on Investment, the MAI. She in fact regurgitated some of her views in this place yesterday. There has been a lot of discussion, debate and debate on an urgency motion in the Senate on the same issue.

What did she come up with? She talked about secret deals by the Howard government, shadowy figures in the dark corridors of the OECD in Paris and all the extreme views that you would expect to originate from the League of Rights. That is where a lot of these comments are coming from. Members on both sides of the House would accept that there are people genuinely concerned about what the MAI may or may not bring. But both the member for Oxley and, I have to say, as late as today, her soul mate, or her sole mate, over the other side, the member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Campbell) has got on the same bandwagon. Of course, both have got it quite wrong. They are driving a parochial issue obviously for political ends. What the member for Oxley has said is unsubstantiated. It is unresearched and is clearly politically motivated.

The government has indicated that it wants an open debate on this issue. As of last Thursday afternoon the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Downer) referred this particular matter to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which I chair. Members of both sides of the House in this and the other place look forward to having an objective review of what that MAI may or may not mean in terms of what is being proposed and what is being discussed by this government and what was proposed by the previous government from 1995. We will be advertising in this weekend's national press for submissions from anybody who is interested. Submissions will close on 30 April. The committee is required to provide an interim report to the Minister for Foreign Affairs by 25 May.

I take the opportunity to refute the rubbish that the member for Oxley and the member for Kalgoorlie are both putting around. It is scaring people. I notice that the member for Kalgoorlie in his press release earlier today talked about a draft treaty on indigenous matters. Let me point out to the member for Kalgoorlie that it is not a treaty. It is a draft declaration which has not even been considered by this government and is of non-treaty status. Before he starts he wants to get his facts right on that and the MAI.

We look forward to having a series of public hearings around Australia on this subject. I think it will generate a lot of interest. I take the opportunity this evening to issue a challenge to the member for Oxley. If she wants to make her points, I challenge her to appear before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and then we will see whether she can differentiate fact from the One Nation fiction.