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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1207

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - I move:

In clause 6(2) omit '1.6 cents' (twice occurring), substitute '1 cent'.

I think it is indicative of the attitude of the Government that the amendment I have moved is in an area which still remains without any explanation of a statement made outside this House to the Press at a gathering which was in no way responsible to the electors, that 0.6c had been added to the undertaking given by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his Budget Speech. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), who is representing the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in this chamber, has been gagged by the Deputy Government Whip. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) should recognise that his supposed answer at question time yesterday, that he intends to ensure that the Press have an adequate opportunity to examine him and that the people in this place already have such an opportunity, is not the only concern that the Opposition has. We on this side of the Parliament believe that major statements of Government policy must be made in this House, particularly when the Parliament is sitting. A significant change has been made to the undertakings given in the Treasurer's Budget Speech, a change which relates to a matter not even referred to by the Minister in his second reading speech. Not only was it not referred to but it is completely contradictory to the undertaking he gave that the purpose of the Bill 'is to impose a charge on meat exported from Australia in order to recoup the cost to the Government of export meat inspection'.

The statement made by the Prime Minister was the only explanation, and that is not good enough. Accordingly, it is the Opposition's intention to revert the contribution made to the figure contained in the Treasurer's Budget Speech. On this side of the House there is no objection to the principle that an industry which is profitable should pay a cost relating to the actual costs incurred in accordance with the undertaking given to cover the cost of export meat inspection. Indeed there are ancillary costs to which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) referred - the cost of providing adequate meat inspectors. Indeed, costs could well cover the additional schools which I initiated to ensure that there were adequate meat inspectors. But it is no use coming into this Parliament and adding to the costs which have been explained to the House a supplementary charge for another item altogether and expecting us just to pass it without one word of advice, with the Minister himself being gagged by his Deputy Whip, denying this Parliament an opportunity at the proper time of telling us what it is all about. The Minister can get up now in the Committee stage and give us his explanationhow belated that is. The time for this House to be given the information was surely during the second reading speech and at the time the measure was first introduced. It is of no use for the Government to come to us now and say: 'Oh, we forgot. We just did not believe that there would be any misunderstanding.' The Prime Minister apparently thought the Press might misunderstand it. The Prime Minister apparently thought that what he said outside this House would be propagated through the mass media and that we would pick it up somehow. That is not good enough. This Parliament cannot be denied an opportunity to hear major policy matters--

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