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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1819

Senator JONES(10.23) —My comments on the referral of the interstate road transport Bills to the Standing Committee on National Resources will be brief. Senator Puplick talked about the Australian Democrats not supporting the referral of legislation or other matters to committees. In all fairness, I have found the Democrats, particularly Senator Mason and Senator Vigor, very attentive to committees and in the Senate standing committee system I have developed with them a very good working relationship. I find that they are very attentive at committee meetings and they are very attentive to various matters raised in committees. Seeking to refer this matter to a committee is just a delaying tactic by the Liberal Party of Australia.

If one goes back and looks at the history of the legislation and at the committee that was set up-I know this has been said but I think it needs to be said again-one finds that the National Road Freight Industry Inquiry, which comprised the Chairman, Mr Tom May, Professor Gordon Mills and Jim Scully, commenced in 1983 and reported in September 1984. The Government responded to it in 1984, and subsequently in June 1985 the recommendations were endorsed by the committee itself. The report and the fast track package which subsequently eventuated have received broad industry and general community support. In other words, it has been discussed by the industry itself, it has been discussed by the operators and by other people within the industry, and they have agreed to it. So it seems to me that referring this legislation to a committee is only a delaying tactic by the Opposition. At this stage having a committee look at something, which has already been looked at, or making recommendations so that legislation can be brought up in this place is not warranted.

Senator Messner said that it looked as though the Government was adopting some sort of jack-boot approach, that we were forcing the legislation through and were not discussing the matter with the State governments. If one looks at the report of the inquiry that was undertaken one finds that there was discussion with the Australian Transport Advisory Council, which comprises Federal, State and Territory Ministers. I think it lays out very clearly the fact that there was discussion with State Ministers and their departmental officers in relation to the legislation that has been brought forward. I think it is important to the industry that this legislation goes through this place so that we can, as Senator Mason said, create a position of safety in relation to it and also bring some sort of organisation and regulation into this industry that for so long has been unable to manage its affairs in the way it should have managed them or meet the requirements that have been placed upon it.

All I can say is that trying to force this motion through is a delaying tactic by the Opposition. There has been an inquiry and there has been long discussion with people involved in the industry and with Ministers who hold the transport portfolios within the States. Because of the discussions held and the recommendations made, I believe that this legislation should be supported in the Senate.