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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3343

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) (Minister for Primary Industry) - Over the past few weeks honourable members have become accustomed to hear motions being moved by the Opposition in order to change the pattern of progress of business in this place especially so that Opposition members can gain some short term political advantage on policies affecting primary industries.

Mr Bryant - I desire to raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I refer to your previous ruling when my colleague from Forrest (Mr Kirwan) was addressing the House. It is obvious that the Minister is not directing his remarks to the amendment and is using this opportunity to indulge in a little political diatribe. If the Minister is to address the House as you required the honourable member for Forrest to do, I submit that he can refer only to the amendment.

Mr Grassby - It is all right for one side and not for the other.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for Riverina is being disorderly. I suggest that the honourable member for Wills might take into consideration that the Minister has been speaking for approximately 30 seconds. I call the Minister for Primary Industry.

Mr SINCLAIR - The motion we are considering is for the adjournment of the House. To it the Opposition has moved an amendment relating to the time for the resumption of the House and the purpose of that resumption. I have suggested, and I repeat my suggestion, that there must be some motivation behind the Opposition's action. If there is no such motivation, again the Opposition is revealed as having neither understanding of rural policy nor sound motives for wishing to pursue its course of action.

Mr Bryant - I raise another point of order. The matter before the Chair is whether or not the motion should be amended. That has nothing to do with rural policy. The amendment was moved succinctly.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! I point out to the honourable member for Wills, as I did to the honourable member for Dawson and the honourable member for Forrest, that I do not want them to develop the debate on the amendment into a debate on the wool industry and the Randall report. These were all matters that the honourable member for Dawson and the honourable member for Forrest mentioned. If the honourable member for Wills had been listening he would know that both honourable members were allowed to mention those 2 subjects. I asked them not to develop their remarks into a debate on these 2 matters. I suggest that what the Minister for Primary Industry has said has related to the amendment and the motion before the House.

Mr SINCLAIR - We have before the House a motion that relates to the time when we would normally resume. I see no reason why the House should countenance the amendment which the Opposition has moved. The reason for the amendment relates to the 2 matters which have been initially raised in this place by the honourable member for Dawson and his seconder. They have suggested reasons why there should again be a meeting of Parliament before the scheduled resumption date. If legislation relating to the matters raised is to come into force of course it must come before the Parliament, and at that time there will be adequate opportunity for the Parliament to debate the substance of that legislation. In the meantime the position is that we have had over the course of the last few months adequate opportunities to discuss a report which was submitted by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. As I understand the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson, it suggests that a further opportunity should be given to this Parliament to discuss the Government's attitude to that report. I suggest that there is no reason for this House to meet at a time when it normally would not meet to discuss our attitude to the AWIC report. I believe at the same time that it is essential-

Dr Patterson - I take a point of order. At no stage did I mention the AWIC report. I mentioned the Randall report. I accept the difficulty of the Minister for Primary Industry. Normally I would have given him notice that I was to move this amendment, but he took me by surprise this afternoon. The blue paper setting out the programme for today listed a matter of public importance. It was only by mere luck that I happened to be here when other business was given precedence over this matter. I can understand the Minister's problem, but it is not the AWIC report with which we are concerned; it is the Randall report and the fact that the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Act concludes on 30th lune. They are the only 2 reasons for my amendment. On 30th June the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Act concludes. What are we going to tell the wool growers after that date?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - I think the point of order raised by the honourable member for Dawson is fairly reasonable. As far as I am aware, the honourable member for Dawson did not mention the report he was concerned with.

Mr SINCLAIR - The reason I mentioned the AWIC report - I appreciate the explanation given by the honourable member for Dawson - is that the Randall report is a document relating to the AWIC report, and presumably the purpose of the amendment is to enable us to discuss the attitude taken by the Government to the AWIC report. In essence what we are looking at is a matter of principle, the question of wool marketing, plus the second issue which the honourable gentleman raised, the question of wool deficiency pay ments. Both these matters will necessarily have to come before the Parliament in the next session. Both are matters of consequence to the industry. As a result of questions from both sides of the House I have explained that a statement will be made by the Government on the attitude that it takes towards the AWIC report as soon as possible. It has been dependent upon the receipt of a report from the Randall Committee, which has just been received. It is the third report from the Committee. There have been 2 earlier reports relating to other aspects of wool marketing. The Government will be taking a decision, and it will be taking it in time to allow the industry to be advised of what the policy of the Government will be for the season that will commence on 1st July next.

I do not believe that a case can be substantiated for this Parliament to resume to debate these matters prior to the commencement of the new wool selling season. I believe there have been opportunities for matters relating to the AWIC report to be raised in this Parliament and for subsequent debate to take place. I believe that the fact that this report was distributed in this Parliament, or was distributed through the agency of the ad hoc committee, the Vasey Committee of the AWIC, which is of course the body that prepared the report, enabled every member of this Parliament to debate the issues. For that reason I do not believe that it is a matter which has been debarred from debate prior to this time. Of course it is important that members of a Parliament have an opportunity to debate significant policy matters. Of course it is significant for them to be able to consider matters of principle, but it is important that they take opportunities to do so while the Parliament is normally and customarily in session.

I do not believe that in circumstances in which the Opposition has not taken advantage of opportunities previously available to it the Opposition should disrupt the customary proceedings in the course of a recess, which is designed to enable the preparation of the Budget and the planning of a wide ranging series of programmes which are normally undertaken by the Government before the commencement of the Budget session in August. I do not believe that an adequate case has been established for accepting the amendment which the honourable member for Dawson has moved. I believe that members from both sides of this House have had adequate opportunity to raise the matters which the honourable member for Dawson has suggested should again be canvassed. The second matter which he suggests we need an opportunity to debate, the question of the wool deficiency payments, is also a matter which I believe either could have been debated prior to this or can be debated during the Budget session. It is a fact that this was the procedure that was followed with respect to the 36c price support scheme which was introduced by the Government for the present wool selling season. As to the statement by the honourable member for Forrest that this Government only makes statements, I think the fact that the wool market has recovered, the fact that the Australian Wool Commission has been constituted and the fact that there is a wool price deficiency payments scheme all speak for themselves. For that reason the Government does not accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson that the House should meet prior to 30th June 1972.

Motion (by Mr Giles) put:

That the question be now put.

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