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Tuesday, 23 August 1994
Page: 19

Senator BURNS (3.26 p.m.) —There is no doubt that the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) is concerned about not only rural families and their problems but also families throughout this nation. In his role as the Prime Minister and as the leader of the government he has indicated this very clearly. He has taken many legislative actions to give assistance to people who have required it in those circumstances.

  The Prime Minister made a statement about drought being a part of our nation. No-one in this chamber who knows anything about the rural industry—and certainly not Senator Brownhill who will propose a matter for debate this afternoon which will be critical of the government—would not know that drought is part of the rural landscape; but in a severe drought, which no-one can manage and for which no-one can prepare, those affected do need assistance. The very stupid, very inept and very uninformed criticism of the Prime Minister for saying the drought is part of the rural landscape has got to be condemned because it is not valid.

  In almost every part of this country and on every day of every year, there is a drought. Whether it is a severe drought is another matter. It is on record now that Senator Collins went to the cabinet and another $14 million was provided. I do not propose to go much further than to say that Prime Minister Keating is a compassionate person. There will be further debate this afternoon on this matter. I am sure that these arguments will again be canvassed. Those people who want to be informed and those people who are informed can make a judgment on that.

Senator Crane —When are you going to ask him about the recommendations in your report?

Senator BURNS —We will talk about that.