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Wednesday, 8 December 1976
Page: 3470

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) -by leave-The subject of natural disaster insurance has been before this House now for more than 10 years. This is just one more episode in the saga. It can be compared to Blue Hills. I hope that, as in the case of Blue Hills, one day we will have an episode which means that the matter has reached a satisfactory conclusion. I suggest that this is another example of lack of action by the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. I draw attention to the fact that as long ago as 18 April 1967 a member of the present Cabinet, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), as the honourable member for Moreton asked a question of the then Treasurer, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr William McMahon), on this very subject. The subject has been taken up by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). He asked questions on notice on this matter and received answers on 4 October 1967, 26 November 1968, 26 September 1969, 12 June 1970 and 9 December 1971. 1 am indebted to the honourable gentleman's prodigious memory for drawing to my attention the way in which this important subject of insuring and providing proper compensation for the victims of natural disasters has gone on and on in this House.

There is no excuse for lack of action on the part of the present conservatives who rule us. They were responsible when we were in office between 1972 and 1975 for stopping legislation relating to the Australian Government Insurance Corporation which contained specific proposals to cover the victims of natural disasters. So we can lay at the feet of the Liberal and National Country parties the fact that inadequate cover is still given to many victims of natural disasters in this country who suffer losses as a result of these terrible events.

I want to commend the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) in particular who has worked persistently since he arrived in this House on the same day as I did at the end of 1969 to bring to the attention of the House the lack of insurance cover in this area. I hope that instead of the establishment of more working parties, more committees and more investigations, which is all that we heard of in the statement made by the Minister, some decisions will be made and some action will be taken so that the victims are properly covered. Every year we get a new example of the need for such cover. I ask that the next time the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) rises to speak on this subject- and I hope it will be very soon- it will be to announce action and not just the establishment of another committee.

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