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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2275

Dr F CAIRNS - No, I do not have that in mind; I am not thinking of motor cars. I am thinking of railways, of the machines that are used to transport material on the ground, and of ships. These are areas in which I would expect the Opposition too to be interested in increasing the Australian component that is involved in it, in being able to provide through the AIDC a way of building the infrastructure of a place like the Pilbara region, which has caused difficulties for the companies operating there and for the Western Australian Government. So, there is a strong reason why transportation for development projects of that kind should be included. It would be a great advantage if the AIDC, raising money effectively in Australia, could direct it into those regions.

The other part of the Bill to which the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition relates is the section of clause 5 that gives the AIDC power to form a company. Frankly I had nothing whatever to do with this amendment. It has come from AIDC because the Corporation has found, in the conduct of its operations under the old Act investing in companies, that the time has arrived when, in order properly to safeguard and look after its interests it has faced problems which required it to have these powers. This is something that has come up in the normal commercial operations of AIDC. The amendment is not part of my thinking. It is before the House because the AIDC Board and Sir Alan Westerman believe that to do their job properly they need these powers.

Mr Lynch - Of course they want to extend the sphere of their own operations. I can understand that.

Dr F CAIRNS - If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were in the same position as Sir Alan Westerman, if he were conducting a business of his own and if he found that in the interest of his business he needed to be able to do these things, he also would seek an extension of his powers. The AIDC is a public corporation that we have a right to protect, and we have a right to give it the type of powers that it believes it properly needs in order to conduct its affairs properly. That is why this proposal is before us. It has nothing to do with socialism. I do not know whether the Chairman would want me to relate to that. Anything in the nature of socialism would take place under the section relating to the national interest. There would be no proper use of the part of the AIDC in which the Board exercises its judgment on commercial grounds for any socialist purpose. The members of the Board are people such as Sir Colin Syme and Sir Charles McGrath, who is better known to the Liberal Party than he is to me. I am satisfied with the way .in which those people have done their job. As far as I am concerned, it will be those kinds of people, and others as well, who will be on the Board of AIDC. They are the kind of people whom we will reappoint when the time comes.

The Government is not concerned to use that part of AIDC for anything that the Opposition would describe as socialist. I think it is time that we had some things in Australia that the Opposition would call socialist. I think the great majority of the Australian people would be much happier if we had a public interest in the great national resources of this country; if we had a public interest in uranium and the eventual setting up of- - The CHAIRMAN - I ask the Minister to come back to the clause, otherwise he will be opening the matter much wider.

Dr J F CAIRNS - I know that we are restricted very often, as the Opposition is restricted, because of the time available and the proper procedures of this House. I do not feel annoyed because I could have predicted yesterday almost word for word exactly what members of the Opposition, including the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) would have said. Everything was predictable. But it is a bit disappointing when one looks at the situation in that way. I give the Government's assurance that nothing that the Opposition would describe as socialistic will be done by the National Interest Division, and that we will not misuse the AIDC for something that it was not intended to do in any other respect.

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