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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5050


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 20/05/1979

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 5050

FOR MEDIA 20 May 1979
The private Member of Parliament the Member who sits on the
backbench is a key and central figure in the Parliamentary
democracy we enjoy in Australia.
The private Member is in a special position. He is able to make
a unique contribution to government.
He is a barometer of public attitudes simply because of his intimate
links with his constituents.
He is able to quickly sense a community need and bring that to
the attention of government.
No government can afford not to heed his advice and his concerns.
For many Australians even for most Australians a Canberra government
can be remote. It seems removed from day-to-day problems of
Australian families.
" How can the politicians and public servants in Canberra understand
my special circumstances and my problems', is a cry we often hear
or read about.
The point is a good one. That is why the local Member in particular
can bring to Canberra the centre of government the real concerns,
hopes and aspirations of all sections of the community.
I know of many of the frustrations of the private Member, having
spent some ten years working from the backbench, but that work
has great intrinsic merit. The responsibility of representing all
the people of his electorate can itself be a stimulating and rewarding
exper~ ence. It is one of the continuing important tasks of every
Member of Parliament. I
While the private Member may be giving constructive service to his
electocrate, he still feels he has mora to.-contribute to the
central decision making proc -ess in government.
Quite plainly, the Ministry and Cabinet have no mortgage of wisdom
on the hundreds of issues that pass their plate each year.
The government understands this, and that is why we have given more
encouragement to our private Members to participate in this process.
For many years, committees of Parliamentmade up of both government
and opposition Members, have made valuable contributions in examining
critical issues.

Committees have prepared reports on issues of public concern
ranging from road safety, tourism, defence equipment, social conditions
of Aboriginals to drugs.
Unfortunately, in the past, these reports have been often pigeon-holed
and forgotten, gathering dust in a library somewhere.
For the government, that situation was not good enough.
Last year I announced that within six months of tabling a commite
report, the responsible Minister would make a statement to the
Parliament outlining the action the government proposed to take in
relation to the report.
The new system has. worked well.
Just a few weeks ago for example, Mr Lynch presented the government
response to the report of the Select Committee on Tourism.
That was a bipartisan committee.
The Chairman was David Jull, a Liberal Member from Queensland, and
the Deputy was a long standing Labor Parliamentarian, the late
Frank Stewart.
The recommendations of this committee were broadly accepted by the
government. Without their work, the government could not have made
the best decision in the interests of the entire community.
As Prime Minister and leader of the coalition team, I have also
insisted on an effective government Members' committee system.
This enables private Membe rs to work closely with Ministers, and
provides a direct sounding board that any government must have.
I and my Ministers meet regularly with Chairmen of government
committees on a whole range of policies and issues.
This king of consultation-adds to the quality of government, and the
decision making process.
Today, as communities and governments around the world face up to
so many complex issues it is important that the governmen~ t makes the
best use of all possible talent and experience available both
inside and outside the Parliament.
The local Member of Parliament is in a position to make a special
contribution to the decision making process. And that is an input
that the government welcomes. I 000--

Transcript 5050