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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1515

Mr KERIN (Minister for Primary Industry)(10.30) —I wish to respond quickly to comments made tonight by the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite). He did not advise me that he would speak on the sugar industry. I put on the record that I am sick of the lies by the National Party in Queensland . I am sick of the distortions, the misrepresentations and the gobbledegook. In Queensland the tired old flabby Government is so fearful of losing power that it will resort to any tactic at all. I am terribly sorry that a man of the prestige of the honourable member for Dawson should be sucked in by this. He and the National Party constantly misrepresent the Australian Labor Party. They misrepresent and lie about us at the Federal level and the State level.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I ask the Minister to be careful with his use of the word ' lie'. He knows my attitude to it and I ask him to avoid it. I call the Minister.

Mr KERIN —Thank you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member for Dawson said, first of all, that the ALP before 5 March promised to underwrite the sugar industry, promised to give loans and promised this, that and the other. I have here the election policy document. We said:

In the current crisis we will give sympathetic consideration to an industry loan to the established Queensland and New South Wales industry.

We gave that consideration. The Leader of the Labor Party, now the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), at a meeting in Townsville said that we would also give sympathetic consideration to underwriting. The whole problem was that the previous Government had referred a question to the Industries Assistance Commission on the whole question of underwriting. We now have the draft report before us. It is incredible that when the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries, Mr Ahern comes down to Canberra, sits in my office and I tell him what is happening about domestic pricing and underwriting, he seems to understand and agree. He then goes back to Queensland. Before 1 July he said that the Commonwealth Government would not increase the domestic price. I told him that we would increase it by $48 or $49 and we did so. He failed to acknowledge that. I explained to him that the previous Government had made a reference to the IAC about underwriting. If I had time I would read out the terms of reference. But Mr Ahern said that the Commonwealth Government would walk away from underwriting.

The National Party in Queensland constantly perpetuates this nonsense and these lies. It has got to the stage, having received the draft report of the IAC, that if we dragged every IAC commissioner on the sugar inquiry out and shot him, as well as all the officials in the IAC, and then burnt the place down, the Queensland National Party would say that that was further evidence that the Commonwealth Government will implement the recommendations of the IAC.

It goes much further than that. Some of the gobbledegook by the Minister for Primary Industries in Queensland is beyond comprehension. I have a statement of his of 29 September. He said:

Three Ministers, Mr Bowen, Mr Walsh and Mr Hayden, all have indicated that the Australian Government strongly supported the need for protectionism for Australia's primary industries.

His next sentence reads:

Three very senior Federal Government Ministers are advocating exactly what is contained in the IAC report.

The IAC report did not say 'protectionism'; it said 'deregulation'. Two paragraphs further down he said:

Mr Hayden, Mr Bowen and Senator Walsh had indicated they favoured the importation of sugar-

They are lies-

and last week Mr Hayden has referred to what he called the overprotected, geriatric insulation applying to the primary industry sector.

That is a misquote, first, because I have Mr Hayden's speech before me. Secondly , his comments in that context referred to the manufacturing industry sector. Let us go a little further. I have a Press release from Mr Ahern, the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries. He referred to the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Gayler). It states:

Mr Ahern was referring to recent Press reports in the Innisfail Advocate quoting Mr Gayler as defending the IAC.

We got hold of the Innisfail Advocate. It did not even say that. We referred this matter to a Queen's Counsel. It is actionable; it is a complete and utter lie.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I made a request to the Minister for Primary Industry. He is defying the Chair. I ask him not to continue in that way. I call the Minister.

Mr KERIN —I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. When I am talking about a Minister in another parliament who is telling mistruths-

Mr SPEAKER —There are other forms the Minister can use.

Mr KERIN —I have another quote here in which he quotes me as saying that the Federal ALP has not ruled out the implementation of the IAC report. This, again, is a complete mistruth-if that word is acceptable.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister's time has expired. If no other Minister rises, the Minister may continue.