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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 4066

Mr GILES (Angas) - I must say that it is quite amusing to honourable members on this side of the House to listen to the attempts of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) to justify his point of view in a situation that is rapidly becoming a mess for him. Mr Speaker, I wonder whether you would allow me to ask the honourable member for Eden-Monaro whether, for instance, he signed a report recommending the imposition of an export tax on meat?

Mr Whan - Yes, I did.

Mr GILES - With that on top of the indictment made out last night by my colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe), I would have thought in any logic that that would prove to be exactly the impossible situation into which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro is getting himself. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro said that he signed the report. He now doubts the veracity of the terms of reference and seems to try to argue that they were not the sort of terms of reference that should be held against him in relation to his signing of the report. He referred to the use of this medium by other parties as being a political vehicle. I cannot imagine a political vehicle that is going on so few cylinders as is the honourable member for Eden-Monaro at this time. It Ls a wonder that it is succeeding in making any noise at all.

However, I did not stand tonight to box on with my colleague on the opposite side, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. I stood to ask the House whether or not it believed a most peculiar thing happened this morning. I refer to a question posed by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) to, from memory, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) or, perhaps, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). We do not get answers from either of them, so the difference is not great. The honourable member for Adelaide asked whether or not the action of the Senate in holding up the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill might reflect on the capacity of the wine industry, some of its wineries and some of its firms to remain viable.

Mr Hunt - That is really scraping the bottom of the keg.

Mr GILES - I must agree with the honourable member for Gwydir that it is really scraping the bottom of the keg. Let us think back to the very first week of this session. Do honourable members recall the Treasurer's saying in reply to a question I had asked during the adjournment debate on a night similar to this that if the wine or the brandy industry were in anything like the trouble that 1 had suggested it was in and if the industry reached the stage of bankruptcy or takeover, its representatives should go along and see him because he would then listen to the views they put forward. I remember very well my friend, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), standing and asking: 'Is this an example of socialistic thinking, to tax some industry out of existence and then be prepared to listen to its views and to try to resuscitate it again?' I ask you, Mr Speaker: Is this or is this not what the honourable member for Adelaide was referring to this morning? The honourable member for Adelaide seems to think that, in spite of the fact that it was his own Government which imposed the onus of this tax, the wine industry has been put in such a situation that it will need the Australian Government to come forward with help from the AIDC which will purchase equity in Australian wineries. What other implication could there be in that question?

Is the Treasurer right? Is the honourable member for Adelaide right? Does this Government see its role as being one of taxing industries out of existence one by one and then. with the generosity of its socialist thinking, offering some help from AIDC or from anybody else? What a prospect this is for the industries which have made this nation great.

Mr Cooke - It is curtains to good wine.

Mr GILES - That is another topic on which one could spend a long time. These wineries are faced with a liquidity problem. What do they do? Do they quit their stocks which have long maturation periods and from which they make their quality wines? Do they try to hang on to their valuable stock and perhaps say that the AIDC or a beneficent government will come to their rescue and that after all, it does not matter very much whether the Government takes up half of the equity of their companies?

Mr Hunt - It is no wonder that they have legalised home brewing.

Mr GILES - I thought you were going to say 'abortion' for a moment. There is another matter which is of very grave concern to me and I am surprised that it has not been raised in the House up to this time. Many honourable members must have read in the Sunday Press, particularly in New South Wales, the incredible comments by the honourable member for Evans (Mr Mulder) that politicians - I presume he meant himself - were not capable of explaining government policy to his electors. He furthermore said that he had so much distrust in the capacity of politicians to explain government policy that, with the backing of the Prime Minister he had thought up the idea of bringing 5 senior civil servants into the electorate of Evans to explain government policy. He proposed that people be invited from all over Sydney - even perhaps from your own electorate, Mr Speaker - to have the benefit of listening to 5 senior civil servants dragged into the political arena, trying to explain to the people of Sydney what the Government's policies are.

Mr Hunt - He does not understand them either.

Mr GILES - We will leave aside for a minute the fact that the honourable member for Evans does not understand the Government's policies. What an outrageous concept it is that the honourable member for Evans, evidently backed by the Prime Minister, should seriously consider putting what I gather from the description in the Press are top civil servants into a political arena where they are to be set up like Aunt Sallys and fired at by vicious members of the community who evidently do not understand what the Government is trying to do. This is past belief. I always though that such civil servants in a country like Australia had the role of impartially advising governments, one after another, and that they were immune to the political bun fights that occur from time to time.

Speaking of political bun fights, might I return to where I started and refer again to the wine industry because not long ago - about 3 years ago - there was a first class political bun fight in my electorate. Frankly, if I might be permitted to say so, it was held to try to get at the honourable member for Angas with whom they were not awfully pleased at that time. At that meeting were the then Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and the then honourable member for Sturt, Mr Foster.

Mr Cooke - Blabbermouth.

Mr GILES - Perhaps the then honourable member for Sturt is more accurately identified by the honourable member's interjection. That entire meeting was composed of people putting their point of view on the clear presumption was that if wine excise were removed there would b,e no sales tax or alternative imposition placed on the industry. The honourable member for Riverina clearly said that. The then honourable member for Sturt also said it although, as was his wont, he did not say it quite as clearly. Everybody at that meeting debated that question. The other day, the alternative of that meeting was held. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher)-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Angas will address the Chair. There is only one person making this speech, not the Australian Country Party.

Mr GILES - I am sorry, Mr Speaker. No Government supporters saw fit to turn up at the latter meeting. This surely was the other side of the coin. The Premier of South Australia has said that this Government has put a much greater onus upon the wine industry than did the previous Government by way of wine excise. I wonder if I might inform honourable members what my temporary friend, the Premier of South Australia, said. Mr Dunstan when referring to the refusal of the

Prime Minister to keep his word about tax exemptions on wine and brandy said:

It is not a thing I would have done to anyone under any circumstances.

He went on to say:

I don't believe a politician should ever go to the public and cynically make a promise he knows can. not be kept.

Mr Fox - Who said that?

Mr GILES - The Premier of South Australia said that in relation to the Prime Minister's comment that was denied by this Government.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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