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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2263

Dr F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - Is the Opposition prepared to decide it now or not? If not, we will take the time.

Mr Killen - You are treating us like school children.

Dr J F CAIRNS - I am quite sure that the honourable member would be very much at home. I think the Opposition has taken a very rigid position on this legislation. It has decided to reject the 2 Bills lock, stock and barrel. It is not prepared seriously to consider taking a constructive attitude to the Bills. Honourable members opposite described these Bills yesterday in the most extravagant terms which indicated in many cases that the honourable members who spoke had not even read the Bills or that, if they had read them, they did not understand them. They took an unequivocal position of opposition. There was nothing of a constructive nature that they wanted to offer. Therefore it seems to me that as far as this House is concerned and the Opposition in it the use of time in the Committee stages would be unjustified anyhow in view of the position which the Opposition has taken. It has taken a position in which it rejects the 2 Bills completely. So how can the Opposition pretend that it wants to use the Committee stages for the purpose of putting amendments? What is more, the Opposition has had 5 or 6 weeks in which to study these Bills. I announced when I introduced the Bills that I wanted them to be studied. I expected that members of the Opposition would adopt a constructive attitude towards them.

Yesterday we offered to make available to the Opposition officers of the Department and of the Australian Industry Development Corporation to discuss the matter with Opposition members and as far as I know that offer was not taken up by anybody. It is quite clear to me that the Opposition does not want to debate these Bills constructively; in fact it only wants to use the time to misrepresent the meaning of the Bills and to give a distorted impression of the Bills to the Australian people and to the Parliament. I have very little sympathy for the kind of speeches that I heard on these Bills yesterday. They contributed nothing to the debate. If we continue the debate under those circumstances nothing will be contributed. It seems completely ridiculous to me that the Opposition has taken the stand that it rejects the 2 Bills completely. Honourable members opposite have said time and time again that they will not have a bar of them. Then they pretend that they want to use the Committee stages for the purpose of putting amendments.

The fate of these Bills will be decided in the Senate, not in this place. It is important for the Government that the legislation should get to the place where the decision will be made so that the Senate will have the maximum possible opportunity to exhibit a constructive attitude to these measures as I am satisfied it will. That attitude will be far superior to the negative, distorting kind of treatment that was given yesterday to these Bills by honourable members opposite. I am extremely disappointed that the Opposition was unable to produce during the course of the debate yesterday afternoon one speaker who was able to show any constructive understanding of what is being attempted by this legislation. The Opposition has had sufficient time to blackguard and slander everybody associated with this legislation in the manner in which honourable members opposite did yesterday and, frankly, I am not concerned to give the Opposition any more time to do this.

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