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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1831

Senator WITHERS -To avoid my making a personal explanation I ask a question of Senator Willesee in his capacity as Minister representing the Treasurer. It relates to the gold mining tax concessions. Does he recall that some time ago Senator Durack asked him a question on notice which included this question: 'Will the Government make a decision on this matter?' Does not this indicate the interest of Senator Durack as a Western Australian Liberal senator in an attempt to get the Government to change its mind? Is it not a fact that yesterday Senator Willesee in his answer said: ' ... it has been decided to proceed with the proposals announced in the Budget'?

Senator Willesee - That was the written reply to Senator Durack?


Senator Willesee - Not from me but from the Treasurer.

Senator WITHERS -I understand that it is over your name. Senator Durack had asked a question upon notice of the Minister representing the Treasurer. I assume that the answer was put down on behalf of Senator Willesee. I take it that Mr Crean has no capacity to answer questions in this place.

The PRESIDENT - That is right.

Senator WITHERS - I therefore ask: Will not Senator Willesee concede that since the introduction of the Budget Senator Durack has continually asked questions in this place in an endeavour to have this proposal deleted from the Budget?

Senator WILLESEE -Firstly, as honourable senators know, I refer all Treasury questions to the Treasurer. I do not think that this peculiar situation that we have of six of us trying to represent 21 Ministers in the other place ever works so that one can be really responsible for answers to questions, particularly those which relate to the Treasury. So when the answers come here, while the technical point is whether I lay them down the answers certainly come from the Treasurer. We seem to be accused of all sorts of things here. One is that this has been done in a terrible hurry, that we are doing it in a short space of time. But Senator Withers rightly points out that Senator Durack asked questions about it some time ago. The decision on gold mining upset all Western Australians. Mr Tonkin has been over to see the Prime Minister, and Mr Collard, in particular, has been working tremendously on it because it affects his electorate and, energetic member that he is, he has carried it forward. I come back to the point that all Western Australians should rejoice that we have made a better decision on this matter. Whether we have hurried it or not is not important, but the fact is that we did not hurry it, as Senator Withers points out in his question.

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