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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1781


Senator PETER RAE(8.18) —Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement in reply to what the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) has suggested as a course of action in relation to the amendment which I have moved.

Leave granted.


Senator PETER RAE —I thank the Senate. The Opposition does not wish to complicate what is a matter of very considerable importance to the people involved but not of sufficient importance to the public of Australia to hold up the Senate at a time when a lot of legislation needs to be dealt with. We see from Senator Button's suggestion that he will undertake to ensure that the Department of Industry and Commerce will review the processes which have been engaged in in relation to the hot stamping machines sequence of events which, I think, have been outlined adequately already and that this would be undertaken by the Department and reported to the Senate next year. My only concern is that by doing this it may delay some action which might otherwise have arisen had the proposal which I put forward originally been followed.

I would like to pay tribute to the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade, Senator Ruth Coleman, who having had some notice that it was likely that this matter would be raised in the Senate, had already done a considerable amount of work to prepare for a very quick investigation into the subject matter of my proposed amendment, that is:

The application of the procedures for the imposition of duty on the importation of hot stamping machines into Australia, with particular reference to the propriety of the administrative action involved in increasing the duty without a report from the Industries Assistance Commission.

We are indebted to Senator Coleman and her Committee for having done, in anticipation of receipt of the reference, a considerable amount of work to prepare for an expedited inquiry.

As opposed to that, the Government and the Democrats have make it clear in the discussions which have taken place that they will not support my proposal. In the light of the Minister's undertaking that a departmental review will be instituted immediately, I believe that it is better to accept that undertaking and not proceed with my proposal. However, I ask the Minister to ensure that the departmental review is undertaken expeditiously and, if he finds that some administrative action is necessary, to put that action in train forthwith so that there is no delay between now and when we are in government after the election. I hope that some executive action can be taken as the result of the inquiry which I anticipate and hope will not take long. In seeking leave to withdraw my amendment and accepting the Minister's assurance, I also add that I hope the Minister will take those two steps-to have an expeditious inquiry and seek to take any necessary action to achieve justice for the parties to all this at the earliest possible time. I see this as the best step arising out of all the attitudes prevailing in this chamber at the moment.

Amendment in regard to the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1984-by leave- withdrawn.