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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4078

Mr ARMITAGE (CHIFLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Secondary Industry. Is it a fact that even Conservative members of the British House of Commons find that the business sector in the United Kingdom feels very emotional about the role of even a tory government and even feels threatened from time to time by that government? Is it a fact that the present feeling in the Australian private business sector that communications are not what they ought to be with the Australian Labor Government falls into the same emotional category? Is it a fact also that the Australian Labor Government has gone far further than its predecessors in setting up regular means of consultation between industry and government, including industry panels? What is the latest development with regard to industry panels?

Mr ENDERBY (Minister for Secondary Industry) - I think the answers to the first 2 questions are yes. If one reads the newspaper reports from Britain one sees the same degree of criticism levelled at government, coming even from business leaders and directed towards a conservative government, as one sometimes finds it in this country. A report which went to the then Minister for Trade and Industry last year made the same point. This Government has taken many important steps to institutionalise the solution to the need for close consultation between business and government. Before the change of government my predecessor began the process of setting up industry panels. Under the Liberal-Country Party Government of last year and previous years there was no such system. They occasionally used panels on an ad hoc basis to solve some problem as it arose but there was tittle, regular, institutionalised structural system of consultation.

The system of industry panels is well under way. About eight have been established. They meet regularly. They represent employer, employee and consumer groups. They are chaired by senior officers of the Department of Secondary Industry - usually the Secretary of that Department. Following every meeting a report is made to the Minister for Secondary Industry so that government knows what that particular industry is thinking and so that in the same way that particular industry is fully aware of what government is thinking. A close relationship is being established. I should also add that in this country - I cannot comment on the situation in the United

Kingdom - a lot is achieved by the good work done by local members of this House and presumably by the Senate. They frequently bring leaders of industry into contact with the Government through the appropriate Minister. A lot of good work is done there. In recent months I have been talking about the advantages that might be gained from having an industries council for Australia, which would include not only State Ministers with appropriate responsibilities but also Australian Government Ministers with appropriate responsibilities. It would also include leaders of industry So something of a cultural kind can be created in Australia to take the process still further. But we have made very significant progress in the first year of a Labor Government.

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