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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3421

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - This is the second time in 2 days that we have had to consider under duress legislation of a most important nature. Apparently if those who lobby have their way, the Senate is to be prevented from continuing the presentation of its views concerning desirable amendments because of the timetable which presents us with an accomplished fact that the Bill will not be operative until about March if we do not agree to the amendments made to the Bill in the House of Representatives. This is an atrocious state of affairs. For 2 days straight we have had before us matters of great ideological importance which this House cannot fully and properly debate. I will not accept these amendments nor do I believe that anyone in the Opposition ought to accept them either. It is rather interesting that yesterday the teachers organisation said, in effect, that we might be right about States' powers but the money involved was so important to them that they wanted us to allow the subjugation of the States to be put into legislation concerning grants and assistance for technical education in Australia.

Now, because the wool industry and the wool producers want this legislation they are saying, in effect, to member of Parliament, that we should allow matters of a highly ideological nature and a socialistic approach to private free enterprise to be included in the Bill, because they want, their organisation established before next March. If Australia is to be governed according to that standard, it does not matter who is in government, does it? This side is acquiescing. This is the weakest performance I have seen by any Opposition in my time in regard to matters of great ideological note. The Opposition is letting into Bills things that it does not want simply because of the time factor and the shortsighted attitude of producer organisations in relation to this matter.

Senator Webster - You are being harsh.

Senator STEELE HALL - I am not being harsh. I have heard it said all too often, and as one of the farming and agricultural community I know it is all too true, that we are so anti-socialist until we want our own way. Let it not come back against this side of the Parliament in future years if something emanates from this Bill which the primary producing community does not want. Let primary industry not complain if it suddenly finds itself being taken over in an area which is does not want taken over by a government which believes all things should be done centrally and by government itself. Let not primary industry protest because its representatives at this time are saying: 'Accept this Bill for the sake of 2 months '. It is very wrong in every way.

I say in all kindliness to my Country Party colleagues here that obviously they went too far in this House as to what was attainable by way of amendment. When one is viewing a piece of Government legislation which involves heavy financial support from the Government- the Government has received the congratulations of the House for that part of its actions in regard to the wool industry, which is a major part of its actions- and when a huge sum of money may be available on commercial terms from the Government, or by Government auspices, that was not available otherwise, it is not reasonable to expect the Government not to have some very large measure of say in the constitution of the Australian Wool Corporation. We went through that matter before. I say in all kindliness to my colleagues of the Country Party that in tampering with the base of the Bill in that regard they wanted more than they could possibly get. Therefore they have jeopardised the proper amendments they tried to get of a detailed but most important nature to them. They have lost their amendments because of their too active attitude to the Bill. I appreciated their support when the amendments went through- they did not sponsor the amendments but they supported them- but now they have in this Bill power given to the Corporation to manufacture and to process in its own name and with its own plant. Who on this side of the House wants that? Yet who on this side of the House will oppose it tonight?

Senator Webster - Do you criticise yourself for your own amendments? Apparently you do.

Senator STEELE HALL -Without committing the Minister I say that I believe the Minister would have accepted these amendments.

Senator Webster - On what basis do you say that?

Senator STEELE HALL - I say that as a result of consultation with the Minister. He made no promises to me; I just got the feeling that the Government would have accepted everything except what was done in relation to clause 5.

Senator McLaren - And that was a funny feeling.

Senator STEELE HALL - It might have been a funny feeling. I do not want to commit the Minister in that way. I said it is a feeling I had about it. Therefore we have a Bill which gives greatly extended powers- far more than the Corporation needs- in regard to operating in its own right, as Senator Maunsell said, in one of the greatest industries in this country. The marketing of wool is a most complex matter and is not to be attacked on the processing side simply because we would like to employ processors and generate processing plants in Australia. It is a most complex matter for those outside Australia who buy our wool and who want to process it themselves. We cannot have adventurers who take on the marketing and processing and manufacture of wool simply because they want to build up an industry, perhaps regardless of the overseas market of the wool itself.

I intend to persist in my vote even though it is one vote among sixty. I will oppose the clauses which I opposed and amended here before. But I would say this: The Minister has put his proposition in a blanket form and if we are to express our opinion fully and properly- I do not disagree with his disagreement to the amendments to clause 5-1 must say that as one vote, and the only one I suppose, that will disagree with him I will be put in a somewhat foolish position of having to oppose his view on clause 5, which I agree with, because of my own amendments. It is a pretty moot point because I will be only one vote. But I want to say in words that I do not oppose in the way I vote the Minister's intention in relation to clause 5 of this Bill. But I regret very much the circumstances which have put us in this chamber in the position, apparently under the drift of the answer given by e.ator Maunsell, where we cannot express th*i opinion which I believe we would express if the House of Representatives were sitting. Under that protest, I will disagree with the Minister's proposal, exempting clause 5 from my remarks.

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