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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1203

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member must return to the Bill. Some private views expressed by the honourable member for Macarthur outside this place are not being debated. I ask the honourable member to debate the Bill.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Mr Deputy Speaker,it is relevant to the Bill to point out how statements have been made which have been thoroughly misleading and that this is a general pattern. That is what I am relating to the Bill. I submit with great respect, Mr Deputy Speaker, that it is entirely proper that that kind of analogy, that line of argument should be permitted to be led in this place. If it is not going to be led it will circumscribe the arguments that can put in this place in a way that would shackle the Opposition as has never occurred before in the whole history of this Parliament. So with the greatest possible respect, may I continue to say that just as this Parliament has either been misled or misinformed by a Minister who did not know what the circumstances were in relation to this Bill, so too were a group of people in Melbourne misled by the honourable member for Macarthur who would have believed what he said. I have not the slightest doubt about that. He said that there was no real difference - I agreed with him and there was not an argument between us - 'between Pitt and Collins Street farmers and that you could not make a valid distinction. We did not argue about that. But the one point on which the honourable member for Macarthur did disagree with me was when I said that the Government was going to use this as a smokescreen under which to remove all depreciation allowances which are available to the farming community. The honourable member for Macarthur made it plain that he thought that would not happen, and of course it has.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I will ask the honourable member to resume his seat unless he proceeds to discuss the Bill.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Mr Deputy Speaker,a central point in this Bill is that this Parliament has been misled. If we are not allowed to lead arguments which suggest that that is a habit of Government spokesmen in relation to primary industries, I submit with great respect that the Opposition is being shackled and is not being allowed the proper rights of debate and argument which ought to be available to the Opposition. I have mentioned quite plainly how the Prime Minister and the honourable member for Riverina have said 2 entirely different things. The House is indebted to the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party who has pointed out in plain terms that the Government is going make a very heavy profit out of this legislation. The requirement over the period of operation of the measure is a little under $S5m. At lc per lb an amount of $69m will be collected giving a profit of about $15m That is not a bad profit.

It would be worth while getting the restrictive trade practices legislation or the Government's own prices tribunal on to the activities of the Government in that regard. Because of the tax of 1.6 per lb, which this Bill provides for, the total levy amounts to $8Sm which is over $30m more than is required to cover the cost of inspection services. The honourable member for Eden Monaro (Mr Whan) said when the Deputy Leader of the Country Party had originally made these points that he was going to answer them but when the honourable member did get up to speak he studiously evaded the points and gave no answer at all concerning the profit which the Government will make out of the producers of meat as a result of this legislation. It is a shabby and shoddy trick which the Government is seeking to play.

Mr Duthie - It is a lie. It is a lie what you have just said.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - I object to those words and I would ask that they be withdrawn.

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