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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2100

Senator ARCHER(5.32) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I would like to speak to the annual report of the Special Minister of State for 1984-85 and in doing so to touch on a couple of issues relating to that Department. The most significant matters in the Department relate to the law, security and crime and how we deal with that area. The Department is in a somewhat transitional state at the moment, a report upon it having recently been completed which no doubt will be discussed before too long in this chamber. The whole question of law, crime and so on has changed tremendously in the past five years and will probably change about as much again in the next five years. The public now has a very high expectation of the handling of all these matters, but people must also realise that what they would like to see may well be excessively expensive, or they may have to accept a degree of cost that is commensurate with what they may like to see achieved.

One of the other areas in the report relates to awards. Awards used to be part of this division and is still partly served by it, but in the last week or two the media has carried reports about the problems that are being experienced by the new committee because it has no staff to work with. There is a totally inadequate staff to perform what is quite a substantial job. I take this opportunity to draw this matter to the attention of the Special Minister of State (Mr Young), whose prime responsibility it still is to see that if we are to have an award system at least it can be made to work.

The report mentions the investigation into lobbyist registrations. Without wishing to go back and up-end the reasons why it was thought one needed to register lobbyists, I would only trust that the report will show that it was a fairly futile operation and is one of the areas of saving that we can now indulge in. I will certainly leave it to the committee to report, but I believe it has been a rather futile effort up to now.

I also wish to touch on the subject of flags and symbols. In common with many people on both sides of the political spectrum, I am rather disappointed that this area has been seen by the Government as one of the necessary areas of cost cutting by limiting the numbers of flags that go to schools, public bodies and charitable organisations. There is no price on loyalty and decency, and I plead with the Government to have another look at this and at least to allow those who are proud enough to fly the Australian flag to have the opportunity to do so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.