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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1783

Senator HARRADINE(8.31) —I would think that there would not be too many honourable senators in this place who had not been made aware of the difficulties that are being experienced in the coal industry. Those difficulties are exacerbated by State and Federal charges, one of which of course is the duty . I am sure that in the areas in which these difficulties are experienced the views that have been expressed not only by the management but also the workers concerned bear upon the decisions that are being taken by honourable senators and by groups within this Parliament. As I understand it, there is a general view that the duty should be removed. Whether or not it is replaced by something else is a matter for further consideration, but at this point I believe there is merit in the proposition that has been put forward by the Opposition. However, the point that has been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, and by Senator Jack Evans is also valid; that is, that the Liberal- National coalition's policy was in existence, I think, prior to 1975. That policy proposes the removal of the duty. It has not been implemented, even when the Liberal-National coalition was in government. Therefore, I feel that the words 'as proposed by the policy of the Liberal/National Coalition' add nothing to the Opposition's amendment. The amendment states:

At end of motion, add ', but the Senate is of the opinion that, while the government's decision to remove the duty on blended coal is to be welcomed, the severe economic circumstances affecting the coal industry and the discriminatory nature of the remaining levy warrant an immediate and total removal of this duty , as proposed by the policy of the Liberal/National Coalition'.

If there is a problem with those last few words, why not remove them? We have the substantive request which would then be the substantive view of the Senate. We will have expressed our opinion. As I have said, most members of the Senate will have understood what is taking place in the coal industry. We will have expressed an opinion that the levy ought to be removed immediately. In order that the Opposition's amendment might be acceptable, I foreshadow an amendment in the following terms:

That all words after 'duty' on the seventh line of the amendment be deleted.

Such an amendment would maintain the thrust of the Opposition's amendment and would make it more acceptable to those who may wish to vote for the removal of the tax but not to tie it to the policy of the Liberal-National coalition.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Jack Evans's amendment to Senator Peter Rae's proposed amendment) be left out.