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Thursday, 15 March 1973
Page: 663

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will use proper parliamentary language.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am sorry. The former Government, when it was given an opportunity to put these ports into a satisfactory financial state, refused point blank to do it. It deliberately set about normalising, as it said, the industry. Its idea of normalising the industry was to phase out of existence the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority altogether as quickly as it could and to phase out the ports of Portland, Cairns and Mackay.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - That is not true.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honourable member for Wannon, who will no doubt get up later and have something to say about Portland, was the Minister in the Cabinet who sat silent while the Cabinet decided to destroy the port of Portland.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker-

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Sit down.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - May I direct a point of order to you, Mr Speaker. Even on the adjournment and even after the time when broadcasting of the proceedings of the House has ceased, is it appropriate for the Minister in this place to make statements which he knows to be completely and utterly false?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is entitled to make a personal explanation on this point afterwards if he wishes.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honourable member knows perfectly well that he was part of the Government that committed a deliberate legislative act that had the effect of destroying the port of Portland and which had the effect of destroying all the other ports I mentioned last week on the ground that they were not viable. The honourable member for Wannon is the last person who ought to talk about it, because he represents the electorate which takes in the port of Portland. Yet he is the co-author of the present disaster that is facing the port of Portland. I have examined this matter in great depth and I discover that it is useless to write to the employers because the employers are only doing in effect what the existing legislation forces them to do.

I knew nothing about the employers' intention to increase the charges when I wrote to them on 2nd March. It was not not until Sth March that anybody knew about it. The inquiries that I made convinced me that it is not a matter entirely in the hands of the employers to correct. It cannot be corrected at all unless we alter the legislation which brought about the disaster. That is the only way to do it. I know from the material that I have now at my disposal that the previous Government deliberately set out to close down some of the smaller ports because, it said, they were not viable and could not be sustained. Members opposite know that is so. They are the guilty men and, in particular, the honourable member for Wannon is the guilty man. He sat idly by. He thought far more of grabbing his ministerial salary and putting his big fat posterior on the back seat of a black car.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will withdraw that remark.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am sorry, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will withdraw the remark.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course 1 withdraw the remark.

Mr McLeay - The Minister has so insulted the House that there are few members from his side in the chamber. There are 20 of our members and 10 of his so I draw attention to the state of the House.

Mr SPEAKER - Ring the bells. (Quorum formed)

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - As well as being primarily responsible for the condition of the smaller ports, the parties which sit opposite have to take full responsibility for what is happening. This is happening under the law they made, not under the law this Government has made. There is another reason why the smaller ports - in particular the port of Portland - are dying on their feet, if that is an apt term to use in relation to a port. The reason is the excessive harbour dues which the Victorian Liberal-Country Party Government is imposing upon the people who have to use the port of Portland. So here we have a combination of excessive harbour dues imposed by the Victorian Liberal and Country Party Government coupled with a deliberate attempt by the former Federal Liberal and Country Party Government to destroy all of the smaller ports.

I think I should now announce that far from doing nothing about the matter I have called for a full-scale inquiry into the future of these ports. I have arranged for one of the most eminent authorities on the stevedoring industry in Australia to visit Portland - Mr Norman Foster. Honourable members opposite can laugh their empty heads off if they like but Norman Foster knows more about the stevedoring industry than any person who has ever sat in this Parliament. I have arranged for Norman Foster to be sent by my Department to make a full investigation of this matter. If the situation is cured, as I hope will be the case, it will be entirely due to the fact that this Government has seen fit to amend the legislation which the former Government introduced, and which brought about the demise of the ports, and to repudiate all of the things that the honourable member for Wannon and his Liberal and Country Party cohorts did during the 23 years they were in ofice. They are the guilty men. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) who is smiling knows perfectly well that I have put my finger right on the nerve centre of the real complaint.

Mr McMahon - I think you put your tongue in the wrong place. You always do.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The right honourable member is in the wrong place and is not permitted to interject from that seat. That is the position. The Government will be making an announcement shortly on what it intends to do about this matter, but the real villains of the piece are the members who sit opposite.

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