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Thursday, 31 August 1989
Page: 767

Senator COLLINS(11.09) —Senator Dunn need not concern herself about the safety aspects of the very fast train. The very fast train will, in fact, operate with the same amount and sophistication of computer equipment as modern aircraft do, and all the driver will have to do to ensure the safety of the very fast train is to install in his cabin the same safety equipment that air crew now install in the cabins of modern aircraft, that is, a doberman pinscher. Not many people know that. One may well ask, `Why would one put a doberman pinscher in the cockpit of a modern aircraft to ensure safety?'. Why would one, indeed? And as no-one else asked, I had to. Well, the reason is this. The pilot has to feed the dog and the dog has to bite the pilot if he touches the controls. All we have to do is put one of those in the VFT and we will have nothing to worry about. The reason that I rise briefly tonight in the adjournment--

Senator McMullan —Is to tell that joke.

Senator COLLINS —No, that was totally fortuitous. It is to place on record my concern again about the actions of members of the Northern Territory Government-I have, in fact, released a statement tonight on the subject-in regard to their 30 per cent pay claim.

Senator Puplick —It is defamatory.

Senator COLLINS —We have had a bad record unfortunately in the Northern Territory in terms of pay claims for politicians. I remember only too well the headline that appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser the last time politicians in the Northern Territory got a pay claim. The heading was, `Australia's Golden Politicians'. At that stage of the game politicians in the Northern Territory were the highest paid in Australia and, arguably, particularly in terms of backbenchers, the most underworked. As I said before, the obvious example to use is the position of the Government backbenchers who service the town of Alice Springs where four State members of parliament represent 22,000 people. Each member has an average number of 2,200 electors. The Parliament sits on 21 days a year and has no active committee system operating in the recesses. It really is a great deal of money for the amount of work those members do.

I place on record again the fact that the timing of this pay claim in the Northern Territory is appalling. Politicians should act as politicians. In other words, there should be a political consideration. We in the Northern Territory at the moment are hurting more than those in any other place in Australia because of the pilots strike. There is no question at all that the pilots who are failing to service the Northern Territory will use as a weapon for their identical pay claim the fact that the leaders of government who are busily condemning the strike at the moment have just voted themselves precisely the same pay rise.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.12 p.m.