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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1269

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) - Does the Minister for Supply recall telling the Parliament on 1 1 th May 1972 that he conceived it as his duty to keep the House informed on the rationalisation of the Australian aircraft industry? If so, why did he dishonour this promise, by making outside the House, at a time when Parliament was in session, an important statement on the aircraft industry? Was this done to duck a debate in this

House on this crucial issue? Will the Minister rectify his abuse of the Parliamentary process by now making a statement on the aircraft industry which can be properly debated in this House?

Mr GARLAND - I do not agree that what was announced by me was, to use the honourable members phrase, a most important matter. In fact, what has been happening in recent months - I think that this has been made rather clear - is that a series of steps, I believe logical and consistent steps, have been taken by the Government in order to review the present situation and to encourage the aircraft industry to proceed in a certain way. Part of this is to determine what the industry's future work load should be. Interdependent with that is the decision on the form and scope of the rationalisation that should take place among the 3 elements of the industry. What 1 announced recently was that I had been given on behalf of the Government some additional authority to carry on the negotiations. The Government has before it some proposals on work load, which it is examining. Until that has been determined it will not be possible for it to enter into any detailed discussions, although I know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be aware of several rationalisation examinations that have taken place. These provide a number of elements in the total and complicated question of what should be done with the industry. But I emphasise that the main effort by the Government in this whole area has been made clear.

As to the question of a debate, I can assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that I have no desire whatever to avoid discussion of the matter. I believe that the Government has taken a number of positive steps. They are steps that 1 think will be to the benefit of the industry. They will be of real benefit and not merely loose talk about what may be idealistically desirable. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would know, the Parliament has a tremendous amount of business before it to carry out before the election. Every minute and every hour in this place is needed for that programme. I am sure that every fair minded honourable member will be aware of that. However, I will have a discussion with the Leader of the House to see whether there is anything meaning ful that could be announced by me and whether he can provide some time for a debate. But I think that I would have to see firstly whether anything could be usefully added to what has been said as at now to inform the Parliament, on which a debate could be based. I might say that many things are going on in relation to this whole question. It may well be that in the not too distant future there will be something substantive to say.

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