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Thursday, 19 August 1993
Page: 422


Senator McGAURAN (11.06 p.m.) —I had hoped to be able to speak on the motion of my colleague Senator Brownhill today regarding the effects of the budget on the rural sector, but primarily due to Senator Burns's mind numbing 30-minute speech, I must address my comments to a certain aspect of the budget in the adjournment debate. Senator Burns's speech will be forgotten as quickly as he sat down, except for one particular comment he made—that in his 40 years of knowing them, he has found that farmers are an uneducated lot. That will be a comment repeated to Senator Burns time and time again, and not just in this chamber. As I travel around this great country, in every rural town I go to I will distribute the Hansard containing Senator Burns's comment. What a comment, Madam Acting Deputy President—

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator West)—Would you address the chair and stop responding to the rabble that is around you—the noise that is around you, I should say.


Senator Tambling —I rise on a point of order.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I am sorry. I withdraw the comment.


Senator Tambling —Unequivocally!


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I have withdrawn the comment. I apologise.


Senator Tambling —You are not in your place. Perhaps you would like to vacate the chair.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I call Senator McGauran.


Senator McGAURAN —Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. It may comfort you to know that I will also be occupying that position in the coming weeks and will have to take on the trials and tribulations that befall the chair from time to time. On this particular occasion I do sympathise with you.

  Senator Burns's mind numbing 30-minute speech, I should add, was in contravention of an unspoken agreement between the two sides of the house that we would only take some 10 minutes each in addressing Senator Brownhill's notice of motion, but it took him 30 minutes to say nothing. We did not have to have that. If we are going to get through these sorts of motions, we have to stick to these agreements. Senator Burns chose to break that agreement, to take people like me out of the debate. He may think that is a clever tactic in the Senate, but we also have some clever tactics on the agenda. One is that, as the coalition announced this evening, it will not be supporting the government's tax measures which, of course, affect the rural sector and have been so well outlined this evening by other speakers.

  I confine my comments to one particular point. The honourable member for Canberra, Mrs Ros Kelly, made boastful comments on the radio today about how this budget has benefited the city of Canberra, saying in fact that there will be a net increase of 400 jobs in the Public Service in Canberra.

  The rural community, which has been shocked by this budget—it cannot understand why its needs have been so blindly ignored—has a right to be bitter or more bitter than it already is against this government. This budget is directed towards the pampering of its own bureaucratic corps, as boasted by the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, the honourable member for Canberra.

  The government's running costs are up almost six per cent, but the rural community has to absorb cut after cut when it is suffering one of longest crises ever endured. I know there has been a bit of a fanfare of late in Canberra that there has been a reduction in the Public Service numbers, but this means nothing. One has only to listen to the honourable member for Canberra, Ros Kelly. She has confirmed that the staff have not been affected; they have been redeployed. She has confirmed that they are taking up other so-called special projects. So there has not been a cut at all. As confirmed by the honourable member for Canberra, there is actually a net increase of 400 jobs in the Public Service.

  Here we have a minister of state celebrating the size of the Canberra based Public Service while the rural sector sinks. She is celebrating the government's making sure that some other city or some other town suffers, not its precious and protected public sector. It is no wonder the rural agenda has been lost; it has been lost in the Canberra bureaucracy. What can the second largest growing city in Australia know about the bush and the real depth of its suffering? How can a city which is annually propped up by millions and millions of dollars of public works ever understand about the infrastructure collapse in rural and regional towns in Australia? There is absolutely no doubt that every time the budget rolls around Labor always looks after its city of Canberra, its mandarins, those that work for them—those who deliver the lines and deliver the lies.

  The Public Service in Canberra is the most politically appointed and biased Public Service since Federation. This year's budget has fuelled the Canberra building market still further. Despite all the austerity, we still have a $150 million construction project going ahead for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We have about the same amount of money being spent on the new complex for the Australian Geological Survey Organisation. Is it any wonder that the Canberra property market has jumped by almost 100 per cent? While Canberra continues to be recession proof, the rural community sinks.