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Friday, 7 September 1984
Page: 635

Senator JACK EVANS(9.45) —I think just a couple of points need to be clarified. First of all, Senator Jessop indicated that the Opposition had moved a motion last night which would, if supported by the Government, given the industry the chance to survive. I agree with that. The Australian Democrats unanimously supported that motion and the Government rejected the proposal out of hand. No matter what we would hope, wish and pray for this morning, that proposal fell to the ground last night. To pretend that it is still there is a nonsense. It no longer exists as a proposition or as an alternative. The only alternative available to this chamber today is the amendment which I proposed this morning on behalf of the Australian Democrats.

I put to honourable senators that there will be a big test for the Liberal Party in this chamber when we come to debate the assets test. Just where do its principles lie in terms of this Government's Budget and the inability of the Senate to interfere with it? The crunch test is around the corner and I suspect that this morning Senator Jessop has dug a huge hole into which the Liberal Party is about to fall. If Senator Jessop were to be consistent with the statements that he made this morning on this proposal, which would alleviate the problems of the wine industry in his area, he would be voting for this amendment . If he has left to him only the argument that he would not in any circumstances interfere with a government's budgetary measures, that argument will fall to the ground the day that he interferes with the assets test. Senator Jessop is in diabolical trouble. He either lets down his own State or the industry in that State this morning, or he will let down his own Party when the time comes for the assets test debate. I have great sympathy for his position because he is in a no win situation. That is why I can understand why this morning Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle made a scathing attack on the Democrats. She shares Senator Jessop's position. She is also in a very embarrassing position. If she does not support this move by the Australian Democrats to alleviate the tremendous pressure that will be put on the wine industry, she will have run out of excuses .

I hope that the Opposition will reconsider its position. It needs now to support this Australian Democrats move to salvage the wine industry, to give it a chance to survive over the next decade and to build its base. Then it will provide sales taxes which will swell the coffers of future governments. But by imposing a 10 per cent sales tax now we will kill the goose that could lay its golden eggs for governments.