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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2497

Senator SIR MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) - I am not happy about the way in which these Bills have been presented to the Senate. My unease developed when I heard Senator Cotton address himself to the second reading stage of the debate. He asked for specific information to be made available to the Senate which is being asked to pass these Bills. If there were any sense of parliamentary propriety the matters that were raised by Senator Cotton should have been advanced in the second reading speech. It has been the habit, as most honourable senators know, when these sums of money are asked to be authorised by Parliament, to attach to the Bills a schedule setting forth what Parliament in fact is being asked to do. I refer, for example, to clause 7 which states:

Australia may, on such terms and conditions as the Treasurer determines, for the purpose of the purchase . . .

The clause goes on to outline the aircraft and related spare parts and equipment to be purchased. The clause continues:

Moneys required for the purpose of sub-section (1) are paid out of the Loan Fund, which is appropriated accordingly.

The Senate is being asked to give a mandate to the approval of a matter which, I suggest, does not appear on the surface to be very satisfactory.

The Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) who represents the Treasurer in this place, under probing from Senator Cotton, has indicated that 50 million Swiss francs will be raised at 9.75 per cent. Perhaps that is the best that is available. Why is that not outlined in the Bill? Similar matters always have been outlined when we have been authorising the purchase of aircraft and equipment. There are references to the ExportImport Bank of the United States of America. My recollection is that that bank requires a determination by Parliament that it will guarantee that the loans will be repaid. I should like the Minister to state quite clearly and unequivocally to the Committee why there has been this departure from parliamentary propriety and parliamentary practice, and also why the constitutional responsibilities have been eroded by the executive government when Parliament seeks money.

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