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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1069

Senator COLLARD (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(10.49) —As I indicated previously this morning, the Bills before the Senate are basically routine Bills. The Opposition will not be opposing the Export Inspection Charges (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill and allied Bills. In the Export Inspection (Service Charge) Bill 1985 changes are proposed to the way in which export inspection charges will be levied. Those changes are welcomed mainly because they mean that some tidying up will be done and some savings made. The Government proposes to allow the industries to opt for whichever system offers them the most viable option. This Bill proposes that charges be levied on a man-hour basis. This proposal replaces the flat rate charge which was levied regardless of costs. One of the beauties of this Bill is that it will allow greater self-regulation within industry; in other words, industry is on trial to show how it can operate under this system and keep its standards high.

It is significant, Mr Deputy President, that we have industries outside our export industries that operate under self-regulation. One area you know quite well is the engineering section of our airline industry. We have just finished debating the Qantas Airways Limited (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1985. I mentioned the engineering side of the airline industry. Senator Sanders drew a comparison between Qantas and Continental Airlines. As I indicated, the engineering sector is self-regulated. It is the best in the world. I recall that because of a cost-cutting operation a DC10 crashed at O'Hare Airport when an engine and pylon came off the wing of that aircraft. Only two airlines in the world were implementing that cost-cutting maintenance operation that ultimately led to the accident; namely, the airline whose plane crashed at O'Hare-I think it was American Airlines Inc.-and Continental. At the same time as that cost-cutting operation was being carried on, Continental was seeking to undercut Qantas on the Pacific routes. I have raised this point mainly because Senator Sanders raised it in his speech today but also to point out that we have self-regulation in industries other than the export industries, such as the engineering section of the airline industry. It is the best in the world and it works very well.

As I said, export industries will be on trial. The proposals in the Bill will allow greater self-regulation. I hope that the industries rise to the challenge. The proposals would help keep their costs down by keeping government costs down and they could still maintain the high standards that are necessary to guarantee that our exports are accepted around the world.

The Export Inspection (Establishment Registration Charge) Bill 1985-Senator Haines has commented on the names that we give these confounded Bills-provides for a charge on registration or on annual renewal of registration of an export licence. That is a good idea also. I understand that the poultry industry has already opted for that proposal. The Government has estimated that these Bills when implemented will give a saving of $18m per year. I might add that under this Government already inspection charges have doubled from $23.9m in 1982-83 to $53m in the current year. That increase is being borne by the export industries at a time when we just cannot afford it. I say once again that all of those export industries are associated with our primary industries. At a time when our current account deficit is running at around $10 billion and rural industry is providing 45 per cent of our export income it is to be abhorred that export inspection charges are increasing unnecessarily and a burden is being put on those industries. If this $18m saving is for real, it is to be welcomed.

I admit that when we were in government we looked at cost recovery. We were recovering up to 50 per cent of costs. We did not go any further because of the parlous state of those industries. It is now part of our policy to remove inspection charges from those industries for the very simple reason that those industries are providing jobs and very much needed export income. Let the people of Australia be under no illusion as to where we stand. The point has been made that these changes were made with little or no consultation with the industry. Once again, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) is guilty. He has been in a lot of trouble this year because of that lack of consultation. We in the Opposition, that is, the Liberal and National parties and the Australian Democrats, have amended quite a few primary industry Bills.

Senator Haines —We have tried to amend more than you would support.

Senator COLLARD —The Democrats have tried to amend a few more, but we have amended some that the industry wanted us to amend, all the time in consultation with the industry. I would have thought that the Minister would have learned his lesson. Obviously, he has not.

Unlike Senator Haines, I have not read the report of the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills to any great extent; so that wipes about 10 minutes from the time for which I could speak. Undoubtedly, Senator Haines is raring to go, having read in great depth that tremendous report. As I indicated, the Opposition, although not liking the fact that the industry has to bear the costs, welcomes the changes, if they are there, and certainly welcomes any reduction in the charges.