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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1510

Mr BRAITHWAITE(10.00) —Mr Speaker, one thing about elections is that they bring a latter day interest by the Australian Labor Party in otherwise forgotten sections of the community. For instance--

Mr Lionel Bowen —And in Queensland by you.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —In Queensland particularly in the recent Federal elections and now again in that same regard for the State elections. In February 1983, the Federal Labor Party found that the Queensland sugar industry might bolster its parliamentary representation if it made the right noises and promises. Now we see exactly the same position being taken by the Labor Party in Queensland in the same industry and for the same reason. But it comes from a position of heavy handicap. For all its promises prior to the 5 March Federal elections, the Federal Labor Party has not performed, nor has it fulfilled its promises. The Queensland sugar industry might now ask the same question: Can the same political bedmate be trusted to keep its rash of promises? I say that it cannot.

Let me just list some of the promises that the Federal Labor Party made during the Federal elections. Firstly, there was its full commitment to underwriting a scheme for the sugar industry related to the 1982 season crop. This was needed to overcome the very severe affects of the drought and the world recession in sugar prices caused by the overproduction of sugar by the European Economic Community. There was never any intention by the Labor Party to honour this promise. It now lies with many others on the scrapheap of its broken promises.

There was a promise to contribute dollar for dollar towards the $25m rural adjustment scheme. Yet that Party, that Government, had to be embarrassed into accepting this situation by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries, Mike Ahern, and then the contribution was only $11m and available only on very severely restricted terms. Again, a definite promise to reduce the price of fuels was made. The reality is that since the Budget there has been an inrease of 2c per litre in excise and the excise is to be indexed every six months. This increase is not rebateable as it had been previously. Sales tax on fuels and lubricants introduced in Labor's August Budget adds greatly to the costs of the cane farmer, as does sales tax on retreaded tyres. All definite undertakings not to expand indirect taxation have been broken by Labor.

Let us look at the situation since the Federal election. The Labor Government in Canberra has terminated the accelerated depreciation, neutralised income equalisation deposits, altered tax averaging and taken away incentives to clearing, drainage and developing land. This Parliament has heard the categorical assurances that the Government would not support the disastrous recommendations of the draft Industries Assistance Commission report on long term assistance to the sugar industry. Only last week in Mackay, the rural peacemaker, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin), was reported to have said that the recommendations may be introduced but not immediately, thus completely refuting the assurances given by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in this place. So, who would trust the Labor Party after this performance in just over eight months? It may have been taken down once, but I am sure the sugar industry in Queensland will not be taken down a second time.

Let us look at the present Queensland election. The rural policy of the Labor Party has obviously been prepared not by somebody who is an expert out in the field, but comes from the hallowed halls of the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane. The policy suggested for grain silos for Mackay overlooks the fact that the grain silos have been in place for the last 18 months to two years; yet it is part of the Labor Party's policy to put them there. Mr Wright, the Queensland Opposition Leader, promises $2m for interest rebate on advanced payments to sugar growers, made necessary because of the Commonwealth's lack of commitment to an underwriting scheme. This is a Federal responsiblity which the Labor Party has not been prepared to accept.

The Labor Party says now it will introduce a stabilisation scheme. If it lacks a commitment to underwriting, why is stabilisation proposed all of a sudden? Perhaps the industry does not want a stabilisation scheme. I am sure that it would prefer the reintroduction of income equalisation deposits, a program, as I said before, neutralised by this Canberra godfather. There is also the track record of the present Queensland Labor Leader and his own credibility. I mentioned this morning in a personal explanation the situation where he still makes assertions in Queensland that are not the truth. So what we have to ask is : When these promises are made by the Labor Party, where can we trust it in the final analysis.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.