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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2645

Mr TICKNER(10.30) —Tonight I begin by gently chiding the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker) who is known to us all as a very earnest young man. I suggest that he give very serious consideration to the inconsistency of the line he put with respect to government expenditure. He belongs to a party that is publicly committed to the most draconian cuts in roads expenditure that this country is likely to see in the post-war period. Not only does he criticise this Government for its expenditure on roads but he also seeks to attack another important initiative of the Government and that is to reduce expenditure on the assets test. It is typical of the Opposition that on the one hand it calls for massive cuts in government expenditure and on the other hand when this Government delivers the goods and initiates a number of cuts it is the first to man the barricades to seek to score cheap political points as a result of those initiatives.

I note with some approval that the Business Council of Australia will try to do what Don Chipp could not do and that is to keep the bastards honest. The Business Council of Australia has gone on record as saying that it will be watching the Opposition to see what its response will be to the Government's May economic statement. We on this side of the House will also be watching and we will be most vigilant to ensure that when the Opposition's hypocrisy is manifested it is exposed for what it is.

I also wish to comment on the matters raised by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) because in the Government ranks is a very active small business sub-committee of the Government members economic committee. I am sure that my colleagues on that committee would share my view that the honourable member's comments are worth looking at. I give him that assurance. He knows that we on the back bench are strident in our efforts to protect the interests of small business which employs so many Australians and contributes so much to the national economy. The matter I seek to raise tonight concerns a conference at which I was able to speak today.

Mr McGauran —Yes. Get on to it, will you.

Mr TICKNER —I spoke at the Australian Centre for Local Government Studies. I compared the information provided to Federal members of parliament with that provided at the local government level. I spoke in some detail about my experience on the Sydney City Council. I say as an aside to the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran), who persistently interjects, that one of the reasons I do not interject in such a pathetic way in the House is that for six years I sat opposite people who behaved in a similar manner to that of the honourable member. To put it frankly, I have been there, done that, and I think it is time that people moved on.

The matter I raise is the need for action at the Federal level to initiate greater information provisions to local government elected representatives. During the time of the Whitlam Government the Horton Committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries was initiated and it presented its report when the Fraser Government was in office. It concluded that local government is the only area of government that does not have specialised information resources readily at its disposal and designed to meet its needs. The Committee also concluded that few municipal libraries in Australia have yet assumed the role of information providers to elected members.

For the first time in the history of this country the Federal Labor Government has created an office of local government that gives local government an effective voice in the national Parliament. That office has as its Minister the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). The Minister has initiated a national inquiry into local government finance. I urge him to consider further national initiatives to promote reform and innovation in local government. I believe that a co-operative approach with State departments of local government and State Ministers could bring about a substantial alteration to the existing practices so that at local government level elected members have at least some opportunity to obtain specialist information which is readily available and taken for granted in both the State and Federal parliaments. I hope that this proposal will be seriously considered by the Minister on his return to the Parliament.