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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2485

Senator ROBERT RAY —I direct my question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to Press reports quoting Mr L. Carmichael, Assistant National Secretary of the Amalgamated Metals Foundry and Shipwrights Union, in which he is critical of the Government's approach to establishing infrastructure for the Australian Manufacturing Council. Can the Minister indicate what progress has been made in this matter?

Senator BUTTON —Certainly my attention has been drawn to the comments which have been made by Mr Carmichael. I am very well aware of them. I have had the opportunity of discussing these matters, if that is the appropriate word, with Mr Carmichael over some time. The Manufacturing Council was established and had its first meeting in March of this year. The process leading up to the establishment of the Manufacturing Council was a long consultative one with various bodies, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Confederation of Australian Industry, the Business Council of Australia and so on, which required agreement on the terms of reference and the functions of the Manufacturing Council. That took some time. There were delays but they were contributed to by all parties involved. In October last year I wrote to the various organisations which nominate members of the Manufacturing Council seeking their nominations. It was not until February 1984 that I got the final answers to those requests from the various nominating bodies, including the CAI, the Business Council and the ACTU. There was concern about the delays occasioned by that process but I think it is better that such a council be established on the basis of clear consultative arrangements beforehand rather than act in haste and repent at leisure.

I regret that some delays have occurred in the appointment of the secretariat to the Manufacturing Council-largely because of the responses received to advertisements and the decision of the selection panel that the applicants were not necessarily appropriate for various positions and, secondly, because of the mystical ways in which the Public Service acts to perform the task of making appointments to various bodies. That matter is being pursued very quickly now and I think it will be resolved in the next few weeks.