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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 305

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - I shall speak only very briefly because there is very little of a finite kind on which to speak in the report that has been put before us. I do not cavil at the idea of putting before the House of Parliament a report indicating the sorts of things that may be done in the future or the sort of thinking the Government has in its mind. That is in fact virtually all that is in this report, except for the increase in the amount of money provided for special tourist activities. The rest is simply an indication of what may or may not be done. I presume that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) would have said something would be done, if he knew what would be done, or what may or may not be done after he has his next fight with the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and any of his colleagues in the Cabinet who support the Treasurer. I do not get at the Minister on this. I just know that that is likely to be what the situation is.

This is a report which is good. It is rather like the case of the man who says that he is against sin. The Minister is in favour of tourism, and so he ought to be. He is the Minister who promotes tourism. So are all honourable members in favour of tourism. When some real finite prospects, some real policies, some real proposals are put before us, if indeed that ever happens, we will be able to delve into them in a far more significant way because there will be some hard argument to have. I think it is good that there has been an allocation of $570,000. I am not quite sure what it means when the Minister said that there is a cost of promoting domestic tourism. Promoting tourism usually means advertising. If it means that the Government is to spend this amount of money on advertising for private industry, private owners of tourist hotels and so on, 1 congratulate the Government on moving a little further away than I thought it would from its basic socialist philosophies. Also in this ephemeral report we are warned that the Government is considering investing taxpayers' money to get equity participation in businesses which may or may not turn out to be successful. I think that it is a quite dangerous proposition to suggest that governments should provide money which is not theirs but which is raised by taxpayers to gain an equity in building a new hotel.

Dr Everingham - You do not mind its advertising for private investors, and it would get no profit from that.

Mr GORTON - You are quite right. I have not even attacked the Government for setting aside S2m to brainwash the Australian people about its own proposals. This is a sheer advertisement. You know what the sum of money involved is to be and you can at the end of each year examine it and see whether it should be less or more. It is a quite different proposition from risk investment - and this is risk investment which we are warned may take place. As I say, we can leave a more direct discussion on this matter until we have found out whether the Treasurer agrees with this, because I would be quite positive that unless there has been a revolution in Treasury thinking this would be a rather difficult proposition to get through.

Dr Patterson - The Minister is the Assistant Treasurer.

Mr GORTON - I know. I have also known other Assistant Treasurers and I know the effect they have had on Treasury and Treasurers' thinking. You think that he is different. Time will tell. All I can say is at the moment we have only an indication of the intentions, some of which are good, some of which are not good. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debated adjourned.

Sifting suspended from 12.58 to 2.15 p.m.

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