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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2622

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3.23 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Science and Small Business (Senator Schacht), to a question without notice asked by Senator Childs this day, relating to native title and tourism.

Today Senator Schacht was simply parroting an inane, puerile and inaccurate answer given by the Minister for Resources, Mr Lee, in the other chamber. I asked a question yesterday about the very serious effects Aboriginal claims on Green Island and Fitzroy Island would have on investment in the tourism industry. Senator Schacht and Mr Lee seem to be suggesting that I have made up and raised unprovoked the question of Aboriginal claims on these islands. Anyone who can read the paper—I suppose that is why Senator Schacht and Mr Lee are having problems—will have seen reported in yesterday's Cairns Post a claim by an Aboriginal group for native title to Green Island and Fitzroy Island—two very valuable and important resorts for the Queensland tourist industry.

  The question I asked yesterday was not answered by the dorothy dixers today. Does the minister not understand the uncertainty that these sorts of claims are bringing to the tourism industry and to investment in the tourism industry? In far North Queensland, in fact all along the Queensland coast—Australia's premier tourism region—there is a lot of concern about these claims and the effect that they will have on investment in the tourism industry.

  I am pleased to hear that Mr Lee has assured us that the reef tax will not be increased in order to pay compensation for any native title that might be approved. He did not answer the other question I asked yesterday about where the money would then come from. Mr Lee, in his answer, has drawn some comfort from reports attributed to Daikyo and its Managing Director, Mr John Gayler, who stuck up for his mate, Mr Hawke, and got shafted by the rest of them in the ALP.

  Senator O'Chee interjecting—

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I take Senator O'Chee's comment that Daikyo has made large contributions to the ALP. Mr Gayler apparently gave some comfort to Mr Lee's response. With respect to the question I raised about the uncertainty that is being created in the tourism industry, I want to go over Mr Gayler's head and quote his superior, Sir Sidney Schubert, the Executive Director of Daikyo. Today's Cairns Post reads:

Sir Sidney said the uncertainty over Mabo was creating confusion overseas with potential mining and tourism investors.

"We have always relied on foreign investment and we'll need it in the future," he said.

"But the effect this (Mabo) is having around the world must be very concerning for the country.

The concern I have for the industry, which is such an important part of the region I come from, is that there is an enormous amount of uncertainty. Neither Mr Keating, Senator Gareth Evans nor anyone else in the Labor Party has been able to allay that uncertainty. The sooner the Labor Party—

Senator Gareth Evans —Uncertainty which you have been generating. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —If the government was able to table the legislation and show us what it is proposing, it might be a bit easier for us to comment upon it. But the government will not do it. Those opposite keep it hidden because they cannot work it out for themselves. They keep telling lies about that in the same way that they did about the economy—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! It is unparliamentary and unacceptable to use the word `lies' with respect to senators and members. I ask Senator Macdonald to withdraw.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I did not mean to say that Senator Evans told a lie. I simply wanted to say that the Labor Party was telling lies about this in the same way that it was telling lies before the last election. I do not know whether Senator Evans is in the Labor Party—

Senator Gareth Evans —On a point of order: Mr Deputy President, drawing a nexus between my membership of the Labor Party and the Labor Party as a purveyor of lies is not a very satisfactory way of getting around your ruling, and I suggest that you determine accordingly.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I withdraw that. I do not want to say that Senator Evans told a lie—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The President has ruled, and it is a ruling which I thoroughly endorse, that the word `lie' is unacceptable. To the extent that it is allowed in the chamber by the President, it can reflect only on parliamentary parties and not individuals, either by implication or directly.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr Deputy President, I understand your ruling on that, and I withdraw the remark. I emphasise that the Labor Party was most untruthful before the last election and it is doing the same thing with respect to Mabo. It has a different response every day.

  I am concerned about the uncertainty being inflicted on the tourism industry due to the way the Labor Party has handled these Mabo matters. It did not need to be like this. It could have been resolved many weeks ago. It is a pity that the Labor Party does not understand the uncertainty that this is creating for business in general and the tourism industry in particular.