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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1213

Mr MCVEIGH (Darling Downs) - I support the ideas which have been advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair). My main reason in rising to participate in this Committee debate is to express my concern at the deliberate attempts by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), who is sitting at the table, to downgrade the responsibilities of this Parliament. He has sought to reduce the forum of the nation to a circus.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! I suggest to the honourable gentleman that in the Committee stage he should debate the clauses of the Bill and not make a second reading speech.

Mr McVEIGH - I accept your point of view, Mr Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN - It is not a point of view; it is a ruling of the Chair.

Mr McVEIGH - The reason I was advancing this line of argument was the simple fact that nowhere has the Minister told this chamber, and through it the nation, for what purpose this levy of lc a lb is to be used. The people in my electorate are concerned about this matter. I inform honourable members opposite who do not know anything about the meat industry that a certain abattoir is operated by co-operatives and this involves ordinary shareholders. In order to balance their budget the people who operate the abattoir want to know whether, after the passage of this Bill, they will have to continue to meet the exorbitant charge of $1.35 per quarter hour which at present they have to pay for meat inspection services rendered by the Commonwealth Government. Nowhere has the Minister told us specifically whether the levy of lc a lb, for which provision is made in the Bill, will cover all the fees of Commonwealth inspectors.

In an earlier debate the Minister said that the new boy got his finger caught in the tart. The old boy has well and truly got his finger burnt in the tart this time. The amount involved in inspection services for an abattoir in my electorate is $343,000 a year, and earlier in this debate the Deputy Leader of the Country Party and honourable member for New England detailed the margins of profit on which the abattoir operates. This Government seeks to rip from the profits anything that will allow business people to create employment and further the cause of decentralisation. It is crystal clear that the Minister and those who sit behind him know nothing about this matter because they have refused to participate in this debate. We want to know why this tax has been thought out and applied in this way in defiance of what the Budget document says. The Prime Minister says one thing outside the House.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - I suggest to the honourable gentleman that he come back to the clause. He is starting to debate the question which I asked the Deputy Leader of the Country Party not to debate on the previous clause. The matter to which the honourable member is referring is a matter with reference to the previous clause with which we have already dealt.

Mr McVEIGH - Will the Minister please tell this Parliament whether the operators of killing works have to continue to pay overtime, meet laundry expenses and provide clerical assistance and writing material for the present Commonwealth inspectors? These are the little things that we are concerned about.

Mr Keating - They are little, all right.

Mr McVEIGH - They would be about the size of the mentality of some of those who sit opposite. Will the Minister please tell this Parliament where he stands on these important matters so that the people who create job opportunities can have their fears allayed about what this tax is to be applied to and whether its purpose is to pay this account and that account?

Mir KING (Wimmera) (10.42) - I rise to support my colleague, the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh). Like him, I am very confused as to the intentions of the Government in relation to this matter. I wish to direct my remarks to clause 7 of the Meat Export Charge Bill. Very seldom does one have a debate as full as this one with so little explanation from the Government side. This is one of the weakest defences of a Bill that

I have ever heard in the 16 years I have been in this place. Tonight we have seen an exercise by a Minister trying to defend his actions rather than trying to explain to the Parliament of the nation and particularly to meat producers what it all means. What I want to know is what is going to happen to the lc that will be collected under this clause? Is it separate from the amount to be collected as referred to in clause 6, namely 1.6c per lb. We do not have any clear indication about what will happen to the 0.6c per lb other than an assumption that it could be consumed in the brucellosis campaign.

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) several times tried to explain parts of the Budget Speech by the Treasurer (Mr Crean). What the Treasurer said is very clear. Only 2 lines of it really count. He said that from 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976 the charge will be lc per lb on meat exports and that the charge is expected to yield $14m in 1973-74. What will happen? Does it mean will the Government earmark specifically certain amounts of money or not? Is the Minister prepared to tell us this?

Mr Fisher - He does not know.

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