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Tuesday, 9 November 1976
Page: 2431

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Is the Department of Productivity to carry out the functions which were to be entrusted to the productivity commission which the coalition parties promised to establish in their science and technology policy published last November and also the functions of the productivity study centre which they promised to establish in their manufacturing and industrial development policy published at the same time? Or is the Government still committed to establishing the productivity commission and study centre?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - I think the honourable gentleman would be helped if he read the statement that was put out on Sunday announcing the changes. Obviously, as the Minister settles into the Department and as the Department becomes established, he will be proposing various measures to the Government in relation to his portfolio responsibilities. I think that the honourable gentleman should understand that a Minister has been given specific responsibilities in areas of importance to Australian industry of all kinds; and quite specifically those responsibilities because- this is no criticism of any departments or Ministers that have been involved in these areas- the problems relating to .productivity, management, labour and new technologies are matters that have always been there. They are long-term issues; they do not go away. So often, as the honourable gentlemen would understand, there are matters of immediate and pressing interest and concern that affect departments and Ministers. Therefore Ministers who have had the general questions of productivity added on to their other more urgent responsibilities have not been able to give the specific attention to this important area which I think is warranted. I make that statement not only in relation to this Government but also in relation to the previous Administration and administrations before that. That underlines the reason for the particular ministry and the appointment of a Minister. In terms of specific policies, I have no doubt that the Minister for Productivity will make proposals to us from time to time.

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