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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3991


Mr LYNCH (Flinders) - by leave- I regret very much that the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) did not in fact foreshadow to the Opposition or to the spokesman concerned the fact that the report would be tabled today, and secondly, that he would seek the opportunity after question time to pursue matters which were raised during question time. Therefore I do not take the opportunity now to respond to the Minister, because I was out of the chamber, not knowing that the matter was to be raised again. I therefore have not seen the report. I did not hear the Minister during the first part of his comments, but because of the very substantial nature of the matters which are referred to I take it that the Minister having taken the opportunity of making a statement to the House, the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) will allow the Opposition Parties during the days that remain before this Parliament rises to debate this matter.

I also say to the Minister responsible for the Australian Industry Development Corporation that if he is aggrieved that certain matters have not been fully articulated in this Parliament or outside it his Government must accept that responsibility, because at the time the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill came before the House both sides of the House were very much aware that the matter was subject to guillotine, that the Bill would be gagged through, and that there was no opportunity for the Opposition Parties to put a point of view or indeed to speak to a large number of amendments which were brought down in the House at the time. The proceedings at that stage were a total farce. I think that the Minister himself is not happy that they were a farce, but he was a party and an accomplice to that single fact. If he now takes some objection to the decision by the Senate to refer this matter to a committee of that House he must accept responsibility for that, because the matter was gagged through without proper debate and without proper scrutiny.

If the Minister is prepared to allow the report of the AIDC to be subject to the scrutiny of the House in the manner in which he should, I invite the Leader of the House to make that comment, because I am sure that the Minister for Overseas Trade would be the first to appreciate that the AIDC presents an annual report which surely, because of the significance of that body and the various matters which I assume are in the report, should be subject to complete, total and absolute parliamentary scrutiny. We are very anxious to know of the detailed manner in which the funds of that Corporation have been expended during the course of the past 12 months.


Mr Whittorn - And lost.


Mr LYNCH - In some cases, in terms of ventures, as I understand it, sums of money have been lost for reasons which I hope that the report makes clear. So specifically, because I do not want to take the opportunity now to respond in depth and lose the opportunity to respond in detail later, I ask the Minister whether be will make arrangements with the Leader of the House for that report to be subject to a parliamentary debate so that a considered response can be made by the Opposition Parties.

Br J. F. Cairns - I ask leave to make another statement, because this the only way I can speak on this matter.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Is leave granted?


Mr Hunt - Before leave is granted may I make one comment to seek clarification so that when leave is given the Minister might answer my point?


Mr SPEAKER -Is the honourable member seeking the indulgence of the House?


Mr Hunt - Yes. I want only one minute. The Minister's statement does nothing to clarify a position that is in some doubt in my mind with respect to the borrowing rights of the AIDC. It was my understanding that the former Government made available to the AIDC $50m, with a right to borrow up to $200m, and with an optional right to take up a further $50m, enabling it ultimately to borrow up to $400m. I have not been able to ascertain why the AIDC has not been able to borrow up to $200m in the first count, and secondly, why the additional $50m has not been appropriated to the AIDC to enable it to borrow on the home money market and overseas a total of $400m. May I have that point clarified?


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister has sought leave to make a further statement. Is leave granted?


Mr Lynch - Provided we are given leave to respond again.


Mr SPEAKER - That is a matter for the House to decide. No debate is allowed on the question of granting leave.


Mr Lynch - We on this side of the House will not gag him if those on his side do not continue to gag us, because we are sick and tired of the way that this matter has been handled.


Dr F Cairns - I am sick and tired of hearing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tub thumping on this kind of thing.


Mr SPEAKER - When a Minister or any honourable member is seeking leave to make a statement-


Mr Lynch - We will not deny the Minister.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I am not concerned about the consequences of a person asking leave to make a statement. What I am concerned about is getting a yes or no as to whether leave is granted.


Mr Lynch - I indicated that we will not deny him the opportunity.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! Is leave granted?


Mr Lynch - Leave is granted.


Mr SPEAKER - There being no objection, leave is granted.







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