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Wednesday, 8 December 1976

Mr ELLICOTT (Wentworth) (AttorneyGeneral) -Mr Deputy Chairman-

Mr Jacobi - You certainly are well represented today! The National Country Party is here in force! None of its members are here.

Mr ELLICOTT - They know their farmers. I rise again to answer the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). I am sure that he has read the Industries Assistance Commission report on rural reconstruction, because he had to draw on it for what is not really an original amendment. He took it out of the IAC report. That report sets down the matters which appear in sub-paragraphs (a) to (h) in the third paragraph of his amendment and it then says:

There are several types of administrative arrangements that could carry out the above-mentioned activities. Two approaches are put forward for consideration. Of these the second is preferred.

Of course, the Commission preferred the approach which the honourable member put forward, namely, a statutory body. We are aware of the desire of the Opposition to set up boards and commissions. Commissions were established time after time in the years in which it was in office. We do not operate automatically in that sense. We look to see whether a commission is necessary. The IAC did not say that this board was necessary. It said that either approach was satisfactory, but it preferred the board. That is clear enough. The honourable member's amendment is in line with the second approach.

This second approach was discussed with the States. It will be recalled that it was suggested in the IAC report that the States would have representation on this board. Despite the fact that they would have this representation, the fact is that no State authority was in favour of a board. No State authority was in favour of the second approach. That in itself is an indication of their reaction. Some of those States are Labor States, as honourable members will recall, and their reaction was that they did not want a board. Our analysis of the proposal suggests that it would be more costly and would achieve no better results. A very telling point, I suggest to honourable members, is that all the things mentioned in paragraph 3 of the amendment about the method of operation are things that the IAC said could be achieved by a commissioner for rural adjustment appointed within the Australian Department of Primary Industry. There is no need for a board with a large number of members. There is no need for additional administration. There is no need for the additional cost. Therefore, the Government rejects the amendment and indicates once again that it prefers the first approach.

Question put:

That the amendment (Mr Keating's) be agreed to.

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