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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3100

Mr Scholes asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

(   1 ) What financing institutions are available to provide loans to primary producers in each State.

(2)   What restrictions on loans exist in each case.

(3)   Which institutions specialise in rural lending.

(4)   Which schemes result from (a) State and (b) Commonwealth Government initiatives.

Mr Lynch - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: ( 1), (2), (3) and (4) The information requested is not readily available in the form sought I would, however, refer the honourable member to two reports prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in September 1972 and May 1977 entitled respectively, ' Rural Credit in Australia ' and ' A

Review of Credit in the Australian Rural Sector'. Attachment D of the 1972 report and Attachment E of the 1977 report contain material summarising the various sources of rural credit and the arrangements in relation thereto.

A copy of each of the reports is available from the Parliamentary Library.

Committee of Inquiry on the Toomer Case (Question No. 1461)

Mr Scholes asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

(1)   Did members of the Committee of Inquiry on the Toomer case participate in the irregular quarantine inspection procedures on the M.V. Vishna Kalyan in Sydney.

(2)   Will he cancel the current inquiry and establish an independent inquiry as recommended by the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration.

Mr Street - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1) Mr R. Perriman and Mr G. Temme, who are currently conducting an inquiry into the case of Mr Toomer, did not participate in any quarantine inspection of the M.V. Vishna Kalyan. A special tour of inspection of the vessel was, however, undertaken by them in company with departmental officers on IS June 1977.

Their purpose in visiting the vessel (which was not in fact chosen by them) was merely to obtain a background understanding of the circumstances in which the work of the ship inspection service is carried out. No quarantine ship inspection as such was undertaken while Mr Perriman and Mr Temme were on the ship. Rather, the visit was a demonstration of the parts of a vessel that would normally be examined in such an inspection, and of the nature of the work of a Quarantine Inspector or a Quarantine Assistant.

(2)   No. The statement on this matter which I tabled in the House of Representatives on 1 June 1977 {Hansard, page 228 1 ) indicated that the legal position was that an inquiry as envisaged by the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration could not be properly conducted unless the body conducting the inquiry was vested with powers to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, and unless that body, and persons appearing before it, had protection from liability for defamation. The statement further indicated that, apart from a Royal Commission (whose formal processes were considered to be quite inappropriate for an inquiry concerned with evaluation of personnel and administrative issues) there was no body independent of the Public Service which had such powers.

The inquiry was accordingly established through delegation to Messrs Perriman and Temme by the Public Service Board of its powers under section 19 of the Public Service Act Through this process, the gentlemen (who are senior officers from outside the Board with no prior involvement in the case) have powers to summons any persons, take evidence on oath or affirmation, and require the production of documents, and they are not subject to direction by the Board in any way while exercising their delegated powers. Also, as indicated in the statement tabled in the House, it is intended that a report of the inquiry, incorporating recommendations, opinions and comments made by Messrs Perriman and Temme, and details of any action taken as a result, will be tabled in Parliament.

I am satisfied that the conduct of Messrs Perriman and Temme while visiting the M.V. Vishna Kalyan was quite proper, and has not in any way compromised the independence of the inquiry.

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