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Wednesday, 5 May 1993
Page: 113

Senator PANIZZA (11.13 a.m.) —I rise very briefly to support what Senator Watson had to say about Senator McMullan holding the position of Parliamentary Secretary in the last Parliament. Senator McMullan brought expertise to the tax field, which those opposite certainly lack. Of course, we on this side of the chamber have the best tax expert in this Parliament in Senator Watson. In that case, I believe that the Opposition did the right thing by listening to Senator McMullan; he delivered pretty well in that position. But in this case—I am not very worried about what Senator Sherry does in this chamber—my worry and reason for rising is that, as we have been told today, Senator Sherry will probably chair the estimates committee that deals with the primary industries and energy portfolio.

  Mr Deputy President, you would probably be aware that, in the Governor-General's speech—long and boring as it was—no mention was made of primary industries. Mr Deputy President, Queensland, your own State, is in the grip of one of the worst droughts it has ever had.

  Senator Sherry interjecting

Senator PANIZZA —Senator Sherry can laugh as much as he likes at the plight of Queensland, but he does so at his own peril. Queensland is experiencing the worst drought in history. The wool industry is also in the worst situation since the inception of wool growing. The wool industry also was not mentioned in the Governor-General's speech.

  The ignoring of country areas of Australia in the Governor-General's speech has been continued by having Senator Sherry in a position of responsibility in this area. I believe that Senator Sherry has some good attributes in other areas. I will have to do some research on Senator Sherry and I may find something. Senator Sherry may care to send me his curriculum vitae so that I can find that information.

  Senator Sherry will be answering questions relating to primary industry. As Senator West knows, it is a very important industry for the whole of Australia. I have not heard one word in the Senate from Senator Sherry on primary industry.

Senator Sherry —That is not right.

Senator PANIZZA —If he has, he can tell me. I cannot remember one occasion when he has spoken on these matters. If he did speak, he did not make an impression. If he has spoken on these matters, I would ask him to send a copy of his remarks to me. I believe it is insulting to the primary industries of Australia to have a Parliamentary Secretary with no expertise in the game whatsoever heading that committee. With regard to Senator McMullan, he did have expertise in the tax field and I respect him for what he did in that area. Of course, he is not in Senator Watson's class.

  I believe that the Minister on that estimates committee should be Senator Cook.  Senator Cook has no background in primary industry matters, but in the six years that he was the responsible Minister and appeared before that committee, because of the good representation on that committee by those on this side of the chamber—Senator Crane and Senator Brownhill; and I suppose I could include myself—Senator Cook started to come to grips with primary industry matters.

  Even though Senator Cook is still the Minister representing the Minister for primary industries, we find that Senator Sherry will take over this responsibility. I am sure Senator Sherry has some attributes in other areas; I hope to find out what they are. This appointment is a total insult to the primary industries of Australia.