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Wednesday, 4 December 1985
Page: 2952

Senator GEORGES(8.54) —I am not on the speakers list, but I have a right to speak. A whole series of Opposition speakers have attacked the Government in a most exaggerated way. All I will do in the two or three minutes I will have available to me is answer Senator Brownhill, whom I had the opportunity of listening to. He was at the end of a line of speakers who seemed to be screaming about the disadvantages the Government has imposed upon the farmer. They were making quite unsubstantiated assertions. The problem that farmers face and the problem that Senator Brownhill faces, especially when he talks about soil erosion and associated matters--

Senator Boswell —The kangaroos are eating all the grass.

Senator GEORGES —If you are talking about kangaroos eating all the grass, Senator, I suggest that you ought to get out of those areas, which are fringe areas that are not capable of reasonable economic development, and those areas ought to be left to the kangaroos. I have said that on many previous occasions. The farmers of this country have followed a policy of slash and burn, which has lead to gross degradation.

Senator Boswell —You can't burn if you do not have enough water, though.

Senator GEORGES —You have followed a policy that is similar to slash and burn. You have torn up huge areas of land. You have exploited them to the point that they are no longer economically productive, and you have moved to new areas.

Senator Messner —We are not opposing soil degradation expenditure being deductible.

Senator GEORGES —No, the real point is--

Senator Boswell —Why don't you do this in the adjournment debate?

Senator GEORGES —No, you have had a fair go. All--

Senator Boswell —Talk about the Bill.

Senator GEORGES —All that we have had for the last two hours is speaker after speaker from the Opposition side saying what they wished to say, in spite of the limitations which have been imposed upon us. They are the people who want the Senate to get up on Friday. So, what do we do? We accept the limitation. No one on this side of the chamber has entered into the debate, in spite of the provocation from speaker after speaker.

Senator Walters —You were not willing to protect your Government, that is why. You are all running scared.

Senator Siddons —Let's get on with it.

Senator GEORGES —Exactly. Let us get on with it.

Senator Messner —On a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President: I take a point of order on the question of relevance. Senator Georges is entering into a debate about the Opposition's position, which is totally erroneous, because he is one of those senators who have not been prepared to come into the chamber and defend their Government in respect of these iniquitous issues that have been before the Parliament all day today, and yet every Opposition senator--

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Jessop) —Order! That is not a point of order, Senator; you are debating the question.

Senator GEORGES —That actually supports my position, because we have accepted the responsibility for the view that the program of this Parliament ought not to be extended, at considerable cost, just so that we can listen to the Opposition's idle chatter.

Senator Boswell —If you sit down, we can get home.

Senator GEORGES —You have had your go, Senator Boswell. You went for about 40 minutes, quite against the arrangement. You are entitled to have your say--

Senator Boswell —If you had listened, you would have learnt a lot.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, I learnt quite a deal from what you had to say. It seemed to be just a muddle of a variety of ideas and opinions that had no relevance to the matters before us. Having listened to Senator Brownhill, all I can say is that honourable senators opposite will have to accept my right to say a few things now.

Senator Peter Baume —When you were a guest of Her Majesty, was the Parliament on radio?

Senator Brownhill —I should like to ask you, Senator, about your free accommodation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT — Order! Senator Georges, I suggest that you direct your remarks through the Chair.

Senator GEORGES —Incidentally, I have had a haircut since I was given the advice. Honourable senators might not have noticed it, but nevertheless, that is so. Getting back to the point, I think that it was necessary to interrupt that litany of gloom, that irresponsible attack upon a government that is endeavouring to sort out an economy that was in such disarray when it came to power. It is necessary that the interruption should have been made. I say with some sort of comfort that those who claim to be National Party representatives will have much with which to concern themselves in many areas in which I have an interest. One area in which I have an interest and in which Senator Boswell also has an interest is kangaroo management. When it comes to talking about tax relief for the rural community it needs to be remembered that there are certain areas where tax relief is absolutely necessary in order for members of that community to cope with what is a national responsibility. I have no complaints about that.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Such as?

Senator GEORGES —Such as soil erosion and the protection of certain vital areas.

Senator Archer —Salinity?

Senator Crichton-Browne —What about water conservation?

Senator GEORGES —Salinity and water conservation.

Senator Archer —Forests.

Senator GEORGES —Forests and kangaroo management. Honourable senators can see what has happened. Immediately we get into certain areas where the inhumanity and the rather, shall we say, cruel approach of those who represent the National Party--

Senator Boswell —Oh, it is terrible to say that.

Senator GEORGES —Senator Boswell would not deny that the approach of many of the people whom he represents is this: If it moves and eats grass, it is a pest and ought to be exterminated.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Senator Georges, are you speaking on the Bills before us?

Senator GEORGES —Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I would like you to make sure that you are.

Senator GEORGES —I am quite, because-

Senator Boswell —I raise a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I cannot allow that remark to go unchallenged.

Senator GEORGES —I have not finished it yet.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Boswell, if you cannot allow a remark to go unchallenged, that is not a point of order. You can speak to it after Senator Georges has finished.

Senator Boswell —I insist that you make him talk on the Bills.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You do not have to insist that I do anything. Senator Georges, I have asked you to make sure that you are speaking on the Bills before us.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President. I need to complete my remarks in order to impress upon you that that is quite the case. The philosophy is: If it eats grass and moves it ought to be exterminated, and if it grows and takes up moisture it ought to be ripped out. That is the approach, an irresponsible approach which can be countered only by a more enlightened attitude. That more enlightened attitude can be achieved only with support. Certain protections are a matter of national responsibility and for that reason they need national support. They can receive national support only by having some tax relief. I am back on the subject.

There is no doubt that there are certain areas where certain tax relief needs to be given, and there are certain areas where it concerns, shall we say, the survival of associated species. That can be achieved only by the matters which Senator Brownhill raised, not so much in the interests of the farmers themselves but in the interests of the whole of the ecology. I am not opposed to what the honourable senator has been proposing; I am in support of it.

Senator McKiernan —Do it quickly.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, I will see to that. We have to approach the matter fully understanding the problem. The problem that I have brought to the surface tonight is that Senator Brownhill, Senator Boswell and the Party they represent have to accept much of the responsibility for the situation in which they find themselves. They cannot expect the taxpayer to meet their problems without their participating, in return, in solving those problems.