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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1157

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - I am certain that organisationally it is wasteful to have 2 committees dealing with the subject of foreign affairs and defence. However, I have changed my mind on this issue since the Budget has been read to the Senate. The allocation for the defence of Australia has been increased by just over 12 per cent. We have been told that the general Budget allocations will be increased by 32.4 per cent over the allocations made in 1973-74.

Whilst I believe that it is organisationally wasteful to have 2 committees inquiring into the same subject matter, it may very well be a safeguard for Australia if there are 2 such committees. I have changed my mind on this matter on the basis of the totally inadequate presentation to the Senate and the explanation behind that presentation as to how the defence forces will be maintained when the rise in their salaries and wages bill must be far in excess of the total allocation for defence in the Budget. I do not know how on earth we are going to provide sufficient defence for Australia when we are not even allocating sufficient money to keep up with the increase in wages and salaries, let alone the rapidly escalating costs for every piece of hardware that is required for defence. If I do not know, I want 2 committees, instead of one, to try to tell me.

I am sorry to have caused the Senate this little organisational disturbance. I had spoken earlier and I could not speak again. However, I have not held up the Senate for many minutes. But I want to issue my protest and say that if some risk is to be taken I will take it on the basis that we may have a little more expenditure on another committee because the Government certainly has not given a sufficient increase in expenditure to the defence forces as such. I issue my protest in this way by voting for Senator Withers ' amendment.

Question put:

That proposed sub-paragraph (c) (Senator Withers' amendment) be agreed to.

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