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Table Of Contents
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- Start of Business
- SUPPLY BILL (No. 3) 1992-93
- SUPPLY BILL (No. 4) 1992-93
- LOAN BILL 1992
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1992-93
- SOUND REINFORCEMENT
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Prescribed Payments System
(Mr PROSSER, Mr DAWKINS)
(Dr CATLEY, Mr KEATING)
Prescribed Payments System
(Mr CONNOLLY, Mr DAWKINS)
(Mr NEWELL, Mr KERIN)
Prescribed Payments System
(Mr LLOYD, Mr DAWKINS)
Motor Vehicle Industry
(Mr SCHOLES, Mr DAWKINS)
(Dr HEWSON, Mr KEATING)
Reserve Bank of Australia
(Mr BEVIS, Mr KEATING)
- Prescribed Payments System
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY AUTHORITY
- AUSTRALIA'S STRATEGIC PLANNING IN THE 1990s
- CASH TRANSACTION REPORTS AGENCY
- FAMILY LAW COUNCIL
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
- NEW BUSINESS AFTER 11 P.M.: ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE
- PIPELINE AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1992
- SWIMMING POOLS TAX REFUND BILL 1992
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1992-93
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Australia Post: Registered Publications Service
(Mr Andrews, Mr Robert Brown)
Port Kembla and Newcastle Ports: Rail Services
(Mr Hollis, Mr Robert Brown)
Australian Wool Corporation
(Mr Campbell, Mr Crean)
Research and Development Projects
(Mr McGauran, Mr Beddall)
(Mr Bruce Scott, Mr Crean)
Motor Vehicles: SES and Senior Officers
(Mr Downer, Mr Beddall)
Supportive Wage Package
(Dr Bob Woods, Dr Blewett)
Pensioners: Telephone Allowance
(Mr Connolly, Dr Blewett)
Pensioners and Social Security Beneficiaries
(Mr Andrews, Dr Blewett)
Airport Terminals: Smoking Bans
(Mr Cobb, Mr Beazley)
- Australia Post: Registered Publications Service
Wednesday, 9 September 1992
Mr FITZGIBBON (8.19 p.m.) —I do not know where I stand; I am somewhat flabbergasted. I came in here this evening expecting that, on this Appropriations debate, members of the Opposition would come out firing on all cylinders, that they would be extolling the virtues of Fightback and that they would be attacking the Government's Budget. But they have not said a word. They have steered right away from the subject. They can find no flaws in the Government's Budget and they have nothing worth while crowing about regarding their Fightback package.
Why else was I surprised? I have great sympathy for the people who serve in our defence forces. I am very interested in their welfare. That is why I am a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. We regularly have briefings on defence. I am somewhat proud to say that I know a fair deal about defence matters. I expected the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Rocher) to talk about budgetary matters but I found that, instead, he devoted all his attention to defence matters. I applaud the fact that he is interested in defence matters, but how typical it is of members of the Opposition to talk for 20 minutes on matters about which they know nothing.
There are many fine gentlemen from the Opposition side who are members of the Joint Committee, but the honourable member for Curtin is not one of them. I have never seen him at a Joint Committee meeting. He has never appeared. What a shame that, because of his lack of knowledge of defence matters, he has been pitiful in his contribution to this debate. How badly he has got it wrong. He talked about the grave injustice done to defence personnel through non-resolution of the DFRDB problem. I do not want to embarrass the honourable member for Curtin. I would be delighted to embarrass one of the proper defence spokesmen from the Opposition, such as the honourable member for Mayo (Mr Downer) or Senator Newman, the shadow Minister for defence science and personnel, but the matter of DFRDB exemptions has been resolved. The honourable member for Curtin has failed to read his mail. What faith can we have in those who sit opposite?
In his strident and confused reply to the Budget, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr Hewson) blamed the intrusion of government for the economic ills confronting our country. He said that the continual growth of government has driven the private sector backwards and is destroying its capacity to create jobs. How blind can the Leader of the Opposition be? How biased he is to blame our current economic problems on this Government and no other factor. If the Keating Government is to blame for the recession, which is worldwide, what a really powerful government we are.
This present Australian Government, supposedly because it has grown so large and so intrusive, has produced massive recession and unemployment throughout Britain, Europe, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and a number of other countries. Has there been so powerful a government in all history? How foolish it is for the Leader of the Opposition to try to sheet home all the blame for a worldwide recession on this Government. Of course the Leader of the Opposition knows that there are international forces at work in the creation of this worldwide recession we are experiencing, but it does not suit his political purposes to provide an unbiased analysis of this worldwide recession. He is engaging in the same exercise in gutter politics as a colleague of his used when that man led that—one hesitates to say `rabble'—group opposite.
Remember the words of the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard); words that will follow him to the grave? `These times suit me', he proclaimed. `These times suit me', he gloated. The fact is that those opposite do not wish to see Australia return to economic health before they can exploit grubby tactics and get themselves elected to office.
We are in recession and, whenever a country is in recession, it is axiomatic for the Government to increase its welfare measures. We find, however, in his reply to what must be fairly judged a considerate and caring Budget, that the Leader of the Opposition criticises the growth in welfare activity. Criticising welfare expenditure during a period of economic recession makes it very plain that the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to welfare measures. He cares not a hoot for the disadvantaged. He has no sympathy for pensioners, for those who live in rented houses. So all members of the Australian public who, through no fault of their own, are dependent on government welfare should remember that the Leader of the Opposition does not believe they should be receiving the present level of welfare.
That does not mean that the honourable member for Ferrari-land wants to get these people off welfare and into jobs. No, not at all. It must be remembered that the Opposition's Fightback policy is not designed to produce jobs; certainly not in the first couple of years. The Opposition's policy of cutting the deficit by between $6 billion and $7 billion, mainly through slashing government expenditure, would have a devastating effect on employment. Every member of the Opposition is prepared to admit that fact.
The Leader of the Opposition will not deny that his stated policies will lead to a substantial increase in unemployment queues. He will not deny it. He has admitted it and so have his colleagues. He is proud that his hairy-chested policies will throw even more men and women out of jobs. Letting the Leader of the Opposition loose on economic policy would be like setting a bull loose in a china shop; the effect would be catastrophic. Those who are clinging to the jobs they have at the moment would be struggling in vain. Their jobs would go and they would be put on the unemployment list. After being on the unemployment list for nine months, whacko!—they would strike the jackpot; they would lose the dole.
The Leader of the Opposition is a champion in destructive criticism. Not one positive or constructive word ever passes his lips. He is driven by blind dogma. He wants to do to this country what Thatcherism has done to Britain, what Mulroney has done to Canada, what Bolger has done to New Zealand, and what Reaganomics did to the USA. God save us from these conservatives who are motivated by vaulting ambition and who will use every deceit to worm their way into office.
But the Australian electorate is made up of people who have a good deal of commonsense. The people will not fall for the low grade trick that the Leader of the Opposition and his gang are peddling; they will not have a bar of the goods and services tax, which will sock their hip pocket by adding 15 per cent to the cost of the necessities of life; they will not for one moment be attracted to the Opposition's industrial relations policies, which will take Australian workers back into the sweat shops of the nineteenth century.
The Opposition's industrial relations policies are there for everyone to see. The policies say to the Australian worker, `Look, we want you to work harder, we want you to work longer, but we want you to work for less pay'. That is what its industrial relations policies are all about. How gullible does the Opposition believe the Australian work force to be if they expect fair-minded men and women to cop that type of punishment?
The Opposition's Fightback policy has nothing whatsoever to do with the advancement of Australia. It has everything to do with the advancement of the Liberal and National parties onto the treasury bench. The ordinary men and women in Australia know what those who sit opposite intend to do to this country. They want to use the short term difficulties confronting this nation to catapult them into office so they can create a system which suits the rich and beggars the poor.
There are many people in the upper Hunter electorate who are disillusioned and disappointed that a Labor government is not able to prevent this country joining others in the slide into worldwide recession. But the people of the Hunter will not tolerate for one minute the unfair policies being pursued by the Liberal and National parties. They know that the conservatives will do to Australia exactly what tory governments throughout the world have done to the working class. The hope of Australia, the future of Australia, must never be allowed to fall into the hands of an ideological bunch driven by the basest of motives—profits and power and not one skerrick of compassion for ordinary people.
I implore the people of Australia to read page 13 of yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald. In a very penetrating article entitled `Who's who in Hewson's demonology', Gerard Henderson analyses the psyche of the Leader of the Opposition. Readers will be forgiven for feeling that John Hewson has a death wish for this nation. Mike Seccombe says that Dr John possesses a messiah complex. Peter Smark has a chuckle at Dr Hewson's expense. Should the Leader of the Opposition be run over by a bus, in the hiatus period we would have a distinguished leader of the opposition, would we not? We witnessed his genius on Lateline the other night. It was a brilliant performance.
Many members of his own Party are anxious about Hewson's megalomania. They fear the consequences of his obsession with the goods and services tax. They fear his preparedness to allow the honourable member for Bennelong free rein with a draconian industrial relations policy. There are decent men within the coalition parties who are less adamant than their Leader. They do not want the average Australian worker who is standing tall at the moment to be slammed into the ground by a goods and services tax. They do not want the average Australian worker to be hit by a double whammy—the Opposition's industrial relations policy. They do not want the Australian worker to be crippled because they know that the average Australian family will not be able to afford the coalition's extra $25 per week health charges.
Is the Opposition blind? Does it not realise that Medicare is supported by the overwhelming majority of Australians? Why on earth does it want to destroy Medicare and replace it with a service that lower and middle class Australians will not possibly be able to afford? The Leader of the Opposition, in his reply to the Budget, tried to paint a picture of Labor being the enemy of wealth. There is no truth at all in his claims. Labor appreciates the necessity for wealth to build the factories to create jobs, but we do not believe in an unfair accumulation of wealth—a wealth which feeds off the flesh not only of the battlers of Australia but also of the middle classes. Labor does not support the type of wealth which the Liberals and Nationals intend handing over to the doctors by virtually allowing them to charge whatever fee they want. Thank goodness not all doctors are so avaricious as to desire the unfair policies which the conservatives believe doctors want.
The people of Australia must seriously question the understanding of the real world held by the Leader of the Opposition. Recently a journalist asked Dr Hewson whether $3 an hour was a reasonable wage for young people. The Leader of the Opposition replied that, if one took into account the number of hours he worked, one would probably find he was receiving less than $3 an hour himself. What absolute nonsense. If Dr Hewson worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—
Mr Hawker —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I know that this is a wide-ranging debate, but I think the honourable member for Hunter ought to be asked to refer to the Leader of the Opposition by his title.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)—I ask the honourable member to refer to honourable members by their title.
Mr FITZGIBBON —I am sorry. If the honourable member for Wentworth, the Leader of the Opposition, worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—I am no mathematical genius—he would earn about $26,000 a year. I suspect that his salary is somewhat more than that. The good doctor has been criticised for his $10 billion deficit in his Fightback package, but we should not be too harsh on him as it has now been clearly demonstrated that the good doctor always has trouble with arithmetic. When one looks closely at the Leader of the Opposition's reply to the Budget Speech, one finds that it contains more comedy than a Charlie Chaplin silent movie. In his reply the honourable member for Wentworth criticises Medicare in these terms:
that is, the Australian Labor Party—
have had about three goes at trying to patch up Medicare.
He criticises us about our health policy! Surely the people of Australia will never forget the embarrassed face of the honourable member for Tangney (Mr Shack) when he made that dreadful admission a couple of years ago about the Federal Opposition never having had much success in coming up with a decent health policy. Goodness gracious me, the Opposition's policies on health were always duds. They were never any good, and nor was its policy on micro-economic reform.
Time and again we hear the honourable member for Gilmore (Mr Sharp) ranting and raving about problems such as the waterfront and shipping. Throughout the long years of coalition rule, those opposite never had the wisdom to produce any improvements in these areas. I invite honourable members to read the tributes by Ross Gittins in this week's Sydney Morning Herald regarding Labor's waterfront reform agenda. My time is running out, but I must stress that we have seen amazing increases in productivity on the wharves.
We must remember that Australia was wallowing in the unemployment trough when this Government came to office. We reduced that problem by creating 1 1/2 million new jobs. Those jobs are real today because of the increase in the work force and the increased retention rate. Nevertheless, unemployment has risen. But this Government has proved that it has the strategies to get Australia working. We will achieve our employment targets without consigning the bulk of our work force to dismal poverty through the use of draconian, confrontationist policies. The Labor Party is the compassionate party, genuinely concerned about the unemployed. Until we get them working we will make sure they receive sufficient welfare to live in dignity.
Because I represent the electorate of Hunter, let me bring a few facts closer to home and expand on what the coalition's Fightback package would mean to the people of my electorate. There are plenty of miners in the electorate. I can tell the Opposition right now that the miners in the Hunter Valley will not be attracted to the industrial relations policies of the Opposition. There are many things that I want to say but I conclude on this note: the Leader of the Opposition said that Australians never get the governments they deserve. Let me say to him, in a friendly way, that the people of Australia have never done a thing to deserve him. The Australian people do not deserve a Hewson-led coalition government.