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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 742

Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate)(8.03) —I would like to thank honourable senators for their contributions, particularly those who made short contributions, to the adjournment debate. I will comment briefly. Senator Kilgariff spoke early. Senator Gareth Evans has assured me that he will examine Senator Kilgariff's point about Kakadu National Park. I guess the honourable senator can expect a response from him in due course.

Senator Missen made a long speech about Amnesty International, particularly about Irian Jaya and the relationship of the Australian Government with Indonesia. I will refer the contents of Senator Missen's speech to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) with a request that he see the Amnesty group. With regard to the questions on notice to which Senator Missen referred, I will see whether an early answer can be obtained. Senator Missen devoted some time to discussing the position of five refugees held on a Torres Strait island and the comments of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Hurford) about that issue. I will not accede to the request that the Cabinet's minutes be made available. I think there is some serious disagreement between the Government and Senator Missen about the circumstances and the importance, both in international relations terms and in human terms, of this issue. That is a matter which I will ask the Foreign Minister to address.

Senator Mason called again for a judicial inquiry into the Chamberlain case. I do not know whether the Commonwealth really has a function in respect of that matter, but I will refer his request to the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen). Senator Vanstone asked that Australia Post give recognition to the wine industry. I totally agree with her point about the importance of the wine industry and the assistance and recognition which it should be given. I do not know that the symbolism of a postage stamp will take the wine industry very far, but I will certainly refer the honourable senator's request to the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy). In the case of Senator Crichton-Browne's comments, I will refer them to Mr Malcolm Fraser.

Senator Vigor made a few comments about local government. I think we would be in fundamental disagreement with him about the generosity with which local government is treated. Indeed, I suppose we would be in fundamental disagreement with him about the role of rational and reasonable government in this country on this issue. I understand the honourable senator's concern for local government. It must be regarded as admirable. But whether the Commonwealth should do more for it I very much doubt.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The PRESIDENT —Before the Senate adjourns, I advise honourable senators that Estimates Committee B will meet in the Committee Room No. 6 shortly after 8 p.m. and Estimates Committee E will meet in the chamber at 8.30 p.m. Prior to the sitting of committees the bells will be rung for three minutes.

Senate adjourned at 8.06 p.m.