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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 386

Senator JACK EVANS —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. As the import parity pricing formula used by this Government and its predecessor has failed to reduce oil consumption, increases the rate of inflation and reduces Australia's international competitiveness and, because it is based on Saudi crude in United States dollars, is now proving to be the fastest growing source of tax revenue in Australia, will the Government undertake to revise the formula taking into account that Australia is 70 per cent self-sufficient in oil production but still uses a formula which increases the price of petrol in Australia while around the world oil prices are dropping?

Senator WALSH —We are accustomed to having dilettante Democrats in the Senate, who pick up a handful of single issue zealot votes or single issue cause votes on anything they can think of, in the knowledge that they need to get 10 per cent of the vote-indeed, they will need a bit more than that in the future-to survive in this place and in the full knowledge that they will never be called upon to accept the responsibility for any policy or inconsistent set of policies which they advocate. The only policy that I can remember the Leader of the Democrats really pursuing was the policy of sending conscripts to Vietnam in the 1960s when he was Minister for the Navy. He sent Australian conscripts to Vietnam, and he has their blood on his hands. I remember that every time I hear him pontificating in the Senate about peace.

Senator Jack Evans —I raise a point of order. Mr President, I draw your attention to the fact that the Minister has lost complete relationship with the question and even with the questioner. He is talking about another member of this Party and he is referring to everything but the question. I suggest that he be brought back into line by you.

Senator Gareth Evans —Further to the point of order, to the extent the Minister might be ranging a little wide, might I suggest that it is a product of the questioner asking completely the wrong Minister.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The question has been directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I would ask the Minister representing the Treasurer to confine his remarks to the question directed to him by Senator Jack Evans.

Senator WALSH —I can only agree with my learned colleague on my right, who said the question was directed to the wrong Minister. I think he is right on two grounds, and he might wish to make some comments as to the policy aspects of it.