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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4329

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - Whilst we do not oppose these amendments that have been brought forward, the position of the Australian Country Party in relation to the establishment of the Industries Assistance Commission is still that we abhor the idea of creating a central planning body with such total authority for investigation and examination. We believe that it will lift itself above the normal responsibility of representatives in this Parliament. I made a speech describing the feelings of my Party on this question. Some of the amendments that have been brought forward will ameliorate the immediate harshness of this Bill.

The amendment which provides that the wheat industry and the sugar industry will not have to go before the Industries Assistance Commission is a very pious sort of amendment. The amendment provides that those industries are excluded from the provisions of the Bill for the first 6 months of next year and after that period any further discussions and negotiations with those industries will, first of all, have to be under the auspices of the Industries Assistance Commission. The amendment is nothing more than a palliative to try to keep the people of these industries at arm's length so that they will not rise in strong opposition to what is being done by the Government. In other words, the amendment will mean that all future industry discussions will, firstly, have to be with a group of economists and bureaucrats who will listen to the evidence and then make recommendations to the Government for the Government to make a decision.

We know only too well, from the recent decision of the Tariff Board in relation to colour television, how difficult it is to oppose the recommendations of an authority with the prestige of the Tariff Board. Of course, this new body will be built up with very much more prestige than the Tariff Board. What happened in relation to colour television? We had the drama of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) standing up in this chamber and threatening to resign if his Party would not adopt the attitude of the Tariff Board. I have been saying that if a body such as the Industries Assistance Commission makes recommendations, it is very difficult for members of this Parliament or the Government to alter those recommendations very drastically.

When I was Minister for Trade and Industry and had the responsibility for Tariff Board recommendations, I saw that it was very difficult to buck a recommendation of the Board if the media and public opinion seemed to favour the Tariff Board recommendation. They normally do because the Tariff Board, in dealing with industries item by item, generally is dealing with a minority group. So the interests of the consumer are generally dominant as far as the Press and the media are concerned. But I see-

Mr Whitlam - Hear, hear!

Mr ANTHONY - The Prime Minister says: Hear, hear!'. Of course he thinks of the consumers. That has been his attitude all along - to the detriment of industry and industry organisations, particularly the rural producers to whom he has been so harsh and vindictive this year. (Honourable members interjecting)

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