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Wednesday, 4 November 1992
Page: 2647

Mr PETER MORRIS (11.17 p.m.) —I thought I was complimentary too, but I certainly was honest and absolutely specific in what I said. I do not retract one millimetre from what I said in respect of the honourable member for Gilmore (Sharp). I welcome the further enunciation of his support for the legislation. When honourable members read the Hansard they will see that his support earlier was circumspect and qualified—`It was a bit of this but not that'.

  Mr Sharp interjecting—

Mr PETER MORRIS —Calm down.

Mr Sharp —They haven't printed the Hansard yet.

Mr PETER MORRIS —I will get him a copy in the morning and I will just show him the point. In my office I wrote down my notes as I listened quietly to him and watched him on the monitor. What he said earlier was much more qualified than what he said just now. I welcome what he said just now. In regard to what I said when I was referring to the seafarer who lost his two fingers, what the honourable member for Gilmore has to remember is that that is what one will get when the Opposition abolishes cabotage.

  The honourable member for Gilmore is up there leading the charge against cabotage. I interpret what he said tonight to mean that he is not proposing the abolition of cabotage. I think I am entitled to say that, after the nice things he has just said about the Australian seafaring industry, its opportunities for expansion and the progress that has been made. Contrary to his suggestion that I have never recognised Ralph Hunt, I say that Ralph Hunt was a decent Minister and a decent man for whom I had a lot of respect and with whom I worked. When he brought down the Crawford report we supported its recommendations strongly.

  But we went on much further from there. One has to recall that Ralph Hunt had a terrible time trying to get the Crawford inquiry established; he had a terrible time getting the approval of Cabinet to say what he said on 2 February 1982 when he tabled the report in the House. He does deserve recognition. I have given it in the past and I am happy to give it again if that makes the honourable member for Gilmore happy.

  The honourable member for Gilmore cannot on the one hand argue all the attributes of the Australian seafaring industry and on the other hand argue about cabotage and opening up the Australian domestic shipping transport industry to itinerant tramps from around the world. We are nearing the end of an inquiry by the Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure into shipping safety. What we have found during that inquiry is horrific—the sheer, bloody, ruthless exploitation of impoverished Third World seafarers. The industries that use those ships which those seafarers have to crew are out there saying what great benefits they are bringing this country and what great progress they have been making for us in sales. But those industries—or some sectors of them—are riding on the shoulders of beggared, impoverished, starved Third World seafarers, often in ships that should not be at sea.

  The case I referred to a few moments ago involved Burmese Third World seafarers. I will get the information. The honourable member for Gilmore has probably read about it already, but I will send him a copy of it.

  What is the Opposition's choice? What is its policy? Its policy is abolition of cabotage. Members of the Opposition have confirmed it to me by their nods and signals across the chamber. I say to the honourable member, `Dear colleague, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that you do not support those activities because they are happening and it is not within the wherewithal of this nation to stop them happening by unilateral action'.

  The suicide case that I referred to is not a decision for government; it was the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal when the Opposition was in government in 1979. If somebody wants to dispute that decision of the Tribunal, it can be challenged. It was not a government decision; it was a decision of the Tribunal.

  The honourable member referred to the penthouse benefits. The benefits that an employee would receive under this Bill are related to the normal weekly earnings at the time of injury. We will not be paying them fat cat salaries of public servants. This legislation is not new. It is not accurate to say that for the first time public sector standards are being linked to the private sector. That was the case pre-1971 when we had a National Party government for 22 years—two decades and more. This legislation is not new; it is simply restoring what was there previously.

  Whilst I welcome the move in position, evidenced by the honourable member for Gilmore in his latter remarks, I am entitled, listening to him for the second time, to say that this legislation will pass the Senate with the support of the Opposition. Even if it objects or is not happy with some of the minor provisions of the legislation I have referred to tonight and to which I have answered and responded to, we will have its support for the Bill to go through. I finish on that note. I welcome the explicit support of the honourable member for Gilmore on behalf of the Opposition. I look forward to the speedy passage of the package of legislation through both Houses of the Parliament.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time.