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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2780

Senator SIDDONS —I seek leave to make a personal statement.

Leave granted.

Senator SIDDONS —I thank the Senate. The reason I became involved in Australian politics 16 years ago was my concern about the efficiency of Australian industry and the very high level of foreign ownership of our resources. The events of the last two days have made it clear to me that I can no longer speak honestly and directly on these issues while remaining Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats and the Party's spokesperson on the economy. I therefore tender my resignation from the Party, effective now. Yesterday four of the seven Democrat senators voted in favour of subsidising the importation of foreign produced fertiliser. The fact that Australia is the only country in the world which subsidises an import speaks, I believe, for itself. But, more importantly, that we continue to do so when Australia is in economic crisis is a fundamental matter of principle to me and one which demonstrates that the Leader of the Australian Democrats and a majority of the Party's senators are prepared to pay lip service to the Party's economic policies as set out in its alternative Budget and elsewhere, yet vote against those policies rather than upset powerful groups in the community.

The Party's economic policies have remained consistent and its objectives have not changed. However, the present leadership has concentrated on single issues and ignored the fundamental fact that the economy and these issues cannot be separated. I will continue to fight for a change in economic direction in this country in every way open to me as an Independent senator. I will vigorously contest the next election, drawing attention to the importance of efficient export oriented industries as the only way to bring Australia back from the brink of bankruptcy. This is a challenge which requires a new vision for Australia. The elected representatives of the people have a duty to put clearly before the electorate an alternative other than to a market forces philosophy.