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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2450

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - I want to make one observation upon the amendments which have been moved this evening. The whole of the submission by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) has been based, it seems to me. on the fact that there was going to be some continuation of the secrecy of the past. But 1 would point out to the Committee at this stage that under this legislation the whole of the decision making will be in public. The whole of the processes will be known and understood by not only those industries that are applicants but by everyone associated with them and the Australian taxpayer who in fact meets the Bill. As we pointed out before, tariffs are taxes. This process gives an opportunity to all concerned to scrutinise the decision making processes. The whole of the amendments are designed to suggest that there will be a continuation of past secrecies. The whole purpose of the legislation is that there will be decisions made under public scrutiny - the Australian taxpayers' scrutiny. For the first time al] of the processes that in fact lead to what are imposts of taxation in the guise of tariffs will be scrutinised.

I think this should be clearly understood. This is one reason why the Australian Farmers Federation, the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association, the Victorian Farmers Union and all of these grass roots bodies in the community support the legislation which is presently before the Parliament and which incidentally is supported by the overwhelming majority of the members of the Parliament. The point I am making is that the amendments are nothing more or less than a smokescreen designed to give an impression in the countryside and the nation as a whole that there will be something not quite open about the proceedings of this body. Surely the whole of the thrust of this piece of legislation is that secrecy and back door methods are at an end for the first time in the nation of Australia. We should all be unanimous about that. I for one am deeply disappointed that a small section of the Parliament should opt to return to the sins of omission and commission of the past when in fact everybody that those people have been associated with over the whole of the last generation have wanted this reform and this legislation.

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