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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3239

Question No. 708

Mr McVeigh asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 8 November 1983:

(1) Were question Nos 52, 55, 65, 66, 79 191 and 194 (Hansard, 1 November 1983, pages 2148-50) referred to his Department; if so, did he read the responses before approving them.

(2) Are the replies plainly inadequate, and largely irrelevant, to the issues raised, if so, why did he approve them.

(3) Do the answers display an obvious lack of interest in serious issues that fall directly within his portfolio responsibility; if so, why did he allow the answers to be provided.

(4) Will he instruct his Department to study the questions again and provide further answers.

Mr Kerin —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) and (3) The replies provided to the honourable member reflected the only sensible response that was possible. The questions were not seeking objective information but information on the progress of policy implementation, on the premise that within eight weeks of taking office a government will implement its entire policy.

This indicates that the honourable member clearly lacks an understanding of the processes of policy formation, the need for consultation and co-operation with primary producers' organisations and the States and the necessity for appropriations and legislation, all of which take time.

If the honourable member really needed the information sought in questions such as ''Is it a fact that Australian agriculture suffers severely from a shortage of water for plant and feed growth?'' (Question No. 194) I would suggest that if he doesn't know it is very wet in North Queensland and very dry in Western Queensland he should consult a primary school geography book.

(4) No, but if the honourable member is seriously interested in the progress of the implementation of the policy points he has culled from the Australian Labor Party's pre-election document 'Policies for Agriculture' he can speak to me, write to me or converse with Departmental officers.