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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2578

Mr GORTON (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The Prime Minister will remember that a few minutes ago he informed the honourable member for Farrer that the month's long delay in the construction of the gas pipeline was due to the actions of the Liberal Party in the Senate. Since the Bill to construct the pipeline only passed through this House at the end of last week and was introduced in the Senate only this week, and since debate on it already has started, will he agree that his attribution of delay to the actions of the Liberal Party in the Senate is ill based, erroneous and misleading?

Mr WHITLAM - 1 am very happy to take the opportunity that the right honourable gentleman affords me to make matters a bit clearer on this issue. I believe I said to the honourable member for Farrer that any delay would now be due to the- (Opposition members interjecting)-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The House will come to order.

Mr WHITLAM - It certainly has not been my view or the view of my colleague the Minister for Minerals and Energy that there should not be an environmental inquiry into this matter in New South Wales, under New South Wales law. In fact my colleague, and my other colleagues, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, all jointly briefed counsel to assist the New South Wales authority in coming to a conclusion on the environmental aspects of this pipeline. My Government has applauded environmental statements being prepared on all such matters, and in fact we are insisting that they should be prepared where any Commonwealth funds are concerned. What the right honourable gentleman says about the Pipeline Authority Bill, of course, is quite true. It went through this House without opposition by any members of any party. The Bill should now have gone through the Senate, but it seems to be one of those unfortunate cases where the Liberal Party finds that it is 2 parties in this Parliament. There is a party in the House of Representatives and a party in the Senate. Who runs the Party as a whole? Things have deteriorated, if that is possible, since the right honourable gentleman inherited a united Liberal Party in this Parliament. It is a matter of great alarm to all Australians - not least those business interests, those investors to whom I see the present notional head of the Liberal Party has made an appeal - that their representatives in the Senate are making such a mess of the Australian economy and are persisting in all proposals which will dissipate Australian resources. That is, we find that the Liberal Party in the Senate is now taking a completely different attitude from the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives on matters such as the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill and the Pipeline Authority Bill.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The Victorian elections are over.

Mr WHITLAM - I notice there are some interjections. Of course, what Liberals should realise in the Senate is that even Liberals can survive if they get on the wave length of the future, and the Liberal Leader in Victoria got on that wave length.

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