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Address by Ian Sinclair



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EMBARGO UNTIL DELIVERY

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ADDRESS BY THE RT. HON. IAN SINCLAIR, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, AT THE NCP FUNDRAISING DINNER.AT WILLOW TREE ON WEDNESDAY, 2ND SEPTEMBER, 1981, AT 7.30 P.M. .

The main focus of our attention at this time - with a most important

New South Wales election only weeks away - is State politics.

In many ways, State issues have a greater effect on us than most

Commonwealth issues. They are matters that are of direct concern

to us in our day-to-day life. . .

The competence of State Government, for example, determines the

sort of education our children will receive. It determines the

quality of our hospitals, the efficiency of our local government,

the condition of our road and rail transport systems, along with

the reliability of law and order and so many other matters of

great importance.

Before I talk about some of these matters, however, I want to

say a fewjwords about a problem that is of special concern at

this time to most people in country regions - and especially in

those where meat production is important.

We must ensure that there are no further misrepresentations

about the quality of Australian meat exports because of the

isolated criminal acts in this regard over recent weeks.

The consequences of those actions were potentially very serious

indeed. The U.S.. meat market is very sensitive, and horror

stories, about competition can be blown out of all proportion . . \ . · · ‘

very quickly. This, of course, could prove disastrous at a

time when our prices are already down. .

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Fortunately, the Australian Government acted on this question

immediately it received initial advice from the United States.

Our actions were positive and I believe the problem has been

brought quickly under control. '

Now, as I am sure you will have read, Peter Nixon, the Minister

for Primary Industry, has announced that he will introduce

tough new penalties against those breaking Australian meat

export laws. ' . . . ) >

These penalties must be strict and effective. .

Our reputation has been very high and it will remain high.

It is most important that our exporters are recognised for

the genuine contribution they are making to Australia.

We have to do all that we can to rebuild any credibility that

the high reputation of our meat industry has lost because of

these sad and criminal actions.

There are many ways that we can do this. Not the least

important, of course, is simply maintaining the high standards

of performance that our producers have always exhibited.

Another major step would be some degree of reform or restructuring

of inspection services. We all appreciate that these services

are vital, but we have had to put up with a duplication of

systems that must result in added bureaucratic costs and

inefficiencies.

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One consolidated inspection service would be a way that we could

cut down on unnecessary duplication and ensure that the highest

standards are maintained uniformly across Australia.

But New South Wales persists with its desire to preserve a State

Inspection Service. We need the Commonwealth standards for

export market purposes and there is no reason why the Commonwealth

could not carry out all inspections - with reductions in costs

to all concerned. . . . .

New South Wales persistently refuses to acknowledge the benefits

of a single service - and so the added administrative burden

is imposed with accompanying higher risks of error and inefficiency

Frankly, I doubt if the Wran Labor Government in New South Wales

has ever given any serious attention to the problem. It probably

regards it with the same:.lack of interest that it has for all

the problems of rural people. ; .

This lack of^interest has been exhibited time and again,

especially since the legislation was forced through the State

Parliament to reduce country representation to the point where

no Government need ever again seek the support of country people.

Mr. Wran knows that his Labor Government can now be returned to

office without Labor control of a single country seat. It is

little wonder, therefore, that his policies and priorities

have completely disregarded country interests.. , .

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As Leon Punch pointed out in his Policy Speech in Armidale last

week, country New South Wales has received nothing from the

present regime except promises and public relations. .

There have been expensive and much-publicised country Cabinet

meetings that have produced nothing of benefit at all for the

people. '

There is no new luxury XPT train service, which Mr. Wran promised

us two years ago to have in two years time. There are only two

carriages - and these can't operate properly or efficiently

because of the state of the tracks.

There is still nothing but the promise of better country police

services.

And if we"look over the exorbitant promises made at the Castlereagh

by-election, we find that most of them are filed away and probably

regarded as no longer operable.

Again, as Leon Punch has said, the Wran Labor machine has stifled

progress and abandoned many programmes essential to the welfare

and improvement of the State. '

The impact on country people of the Government's perverse

priorities is indicated by the escalation in charges for

electricity, transport, water, sewerage and other services.

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These are matched only by the decreases in State funds for

hospitals and schools and especially for roads and bridges.

Indeed, the State Government appears to" have nothing more in

its roads policy except to misrepresent the positive steps the

Commonwealth has taken to promote efficiency in this area.

This financial year, the Commonwealth Budget has allocated

$685'million for road grants to the States and Northern Territory.

This represents a 9.1 per cent increase over last year.

Of this, New South Wales will receive a total allocation of • - . \

more than $214 million, of which nearly half will be for

national roads.

the Roads Grants Act of this year, the Commonwealth has

"-attempted to build and reinforce efficiency in national roads

construction works. .

Grants for national roads construction - not for maintenance -

are to be conditional upon tenders being called and dealt with

in accordance with approved procedures. . .

The tenders will be called by the State Department of Main Roads.

The DMR itself will be eligible to compete with private

contractors. Naturally where the DMR is a tenderer, the

. tenders will be opened in the presence of a Commonwealth official.

But it is emphasised that the criterion will be value for money.

Where the DMR1s tender is the best and lowest, it will be

: awarded the work.

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If the DMR is not awarded the contracts, the NSW Government of

course within its own funding of roads will be able to pick up

the shortfall. Thus, it can guarantee the continuity of work

for its employees if it is unable to provide the efficiency

and labour costs which will award the DMR contracts.

It needs to be seen that the DMR has all the advantages - the

equipment, the experience and the know-how. It is in the

position of being, the market leader as far as contracts are

concerned.

The State Government has put real pressure on employees and

told them, in effect, that the DMR is not going to win these

contracts. What they are really saying is that the DMR is

inefficient. In this way they are condemning their own

organisation. .

The Commonwealth's policy is an eminently sensible approach

and we must not let it be misrepresented for crass political

purposes.

The Wran Labor publicity machine has been trying to generate

stories about the impact that these policies will have on,

employment. This is nothing but a red herring and I would

not be surprised if the real purpose is to distract attention

from the truth about country employment in New South Wales.

Country New South Wales, with some 25 percent of the population,

has 43 percent of the State's unemployed.

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And for every junior job opportunity in the country, there are

as many as 199 applicants (compared with 14 in Sydney).

Figures like that should not permit the Wran machine to get

away with crocodile tears and misleading statements about the

costs of efficiency.

Further, no government that takes a swipe at country employment

in the way that Mr. Wran has with his increase in payroll tax

should dare raise .the spectre of unemployment.

Rural unemployment needs positive policies - and if we read .

Leon Punch's Policy Speech we find they are there.

While we are considering costs, I would like to draw your

attention to one final point of concern.

How many times have you noticed that whenever a community has

expressed a need for: improved services - a school, a hospital,

a police station, better power or better roads - the State

Government has fobbed it off with the cry that it does not

have the funds?

This excuse is demonstrably false, unless the State Labor

Government's administration is so grossly inefficient that.it

has squandered all that it has gained in its massive rip-off

from the taxpayers. '

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We all know by now - or we should know - that on a per capita

basis, we in New South Wales now have imposed on us the highest

taxes in Australia. A family of four is paying almost $32 a

week in State taxes - and under Labor many charges and fees

have increased by up to 900 percent.

But why is none of this revenue available when the country people

of New South Wales demand the ordinary services they deserve?

I suspect that the answer to this question is simply that the

only epople who have gained by five years of Labor are the

members of the Labor Party. They have even passed a special

Act of Parliament to force the taxpayer to pay Labor ’ ■ s election

campaign costs.

If I needed only one good reason to return a McDonald/Punch

Government in New South Wales, this deplorable grab by the

Labor Party for public funds would be enough.