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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2070

Senator ROBERT RAY —Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware of Senator Boswell's claim that the Economic Planning Advisory Council is 'an ALP controlled body with nine out of 10 of its members being ALP puppets, dedicated to ALP policies'? Is there any evidence to support this claim? Is it not a fact that EPAC members are at least as independent as Queensland's State Government electoral redistribution commissioners?

Senator BUTTON —I am not competent to comment on Queensland's State electoral redistribution commissioners. I feel that I may have some preconceived prejudice on the basis of long-standing experience, so I will not make any comment about them. The suggestion made by Senator Boswell about EPAC is characteristically ill-informed, if I might put it mildly. I point out to Senator Boswell that EPAC is in a sense a representative body. A variety of important groups in this community were asked to nominate people for the membership of EPAC. Those bodies included the Confederation of Australian Industry-

Senator Chaney —Didn't you choose them?

Senator BUTTON —Senator Chaney is querying this. Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle asked me a minute ago what guidelines the Government gave EPAC. Honourable senators opposite have been in Opposition now for 18 months and EPAC has been established for 12 months. The Opposition does not have a tittle of understanding of what EPAC is all about, yet people like Senator Boswell make these ill-conceived comments. The Confederation of Australian Industry has a representative on EPAC; the Business Council of Australia has two representatives; the Australian Council of Trade Unions has representatives on EPAC; a whole range of organisations of that kind have representatives on EPAC. To suggest that the individuals to represent those bodies were chosen by this Government and that in any sense they are Australian Labor Party--

Senator Boswell —Puppets.

Senator BUTTON —Puppets is absurd. Senator Boswell probably does not understand the nature of political dialogue and consultation. I think it is very important that he try to have some understanding of the variety of bodies which this Government has appointed in order to obtain a variety of points of view. A variety of points of view is consistently put to EPAC by different bodies. For example, the Australian Council of Social Service representative on EPAC, I think I am correct in saying, has been very critical of some of the other views expressed at EPAC. The nominee of the National Farmers Federation of Australia has made it quite clear that he does not share certain views advanced by a majority of people of EPAC, and so on. So it is a ludicrous comment and one which deserves only condemnation, which I will not make very rigorously because of Senator Boswell's apparent incapacity to grasp these issues.