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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 4645

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - It is my intention to bring the debate back to the subject matter of the Bill. As the chief spokesmen for the Opposition, Mr Chipp and Mr Lloyd, have already outlined, it is the intention of the Opposition-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order!The honourable member will refer to honourable members by their electorates.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) and the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) have outlined that it is the intention of the Opposition to oppose these measures vigorously. We see them as being no different from the Bills in relation to the national health scheme which we have opposed ever since the Labor Government came into power. These are simply more Bills to make possible the imposition of Labor's health scheme. This legislation proposes nothing more than an additional tax on the Australian people. No other name can be given to what is proposed. As if the workers and the people of Australia today were not already under Labor being forced to pay enough in taxation. We need this measure like we need a hole in the head. It completely ridicules the measures announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) recently when he introduced the third Budget that we have had since 17 September. Those measures were designed to reduce taxation. Here we are with the sun setting on the 1974 parliamentary session and the Government is endeavouring to rush through legislation to make it possible to impose extra taxation. What has amazed me about this debate is the complete and utter silence of Government members, not one of whom has come out to speak in favour of or to denounce the measures now before the House.

This legislation more particularly relates to the position in Queensland. If anything was to indicate the insensitivity of the present Federal Labor Government, it is this legislation. An election is to be held in Queensland on Saturday. Less than 48 hours from that election we are debating another tax measure, the effects of which will be particularly hard on Queensland people. Let me explain the reason for that statement. As everyone knows, Queensland already has a free hospital system. What Labor proposes is simply this: As a result of this legislation every working man and woman in Queensland who earns more than a couple of thousand dollars a year will be forced, whether they like it or not, to pay 1.35 per cent of their income as a levy. That means that this Government is offering Queensland free hospital services - something which Queenslanders already receive for nothing- in return for the extra taxation imposed by this legislation. Furthermore, this levy is an extra payment required additional to what people in Queensland and everywhere else in Australia pay if they belong to a health insurance organisation. When Queenslanders are forced to pay this levy, they will receive no right in return of entry to intermediate or private ward hospital accommodation. They will need to belong to a private health fund to qualify for that, just as they must today. Therefore, Queenslanders are twotime losers.

The Government expects the people of Australia to take this legislation lying down. Furthermore, it expresses surprise when the Opposition continues to oppose these measures. The facts of life are that this country has been devastated completely since the election of the Federal Labor Government. The people of Canberra are all right when these grandiose schemes are drawn up. Canberra, unlike any other city, is insulated from the effects of the actions of this Government because so many people are employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. In Canberra, the sun comes up and the sun goes down; there is never any change. But out in the cities- whether they be Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane, or smaller provincial towns like Julia Creek or Toowoomba- people are unemployed as a result of the stupidity and the implementation of the policies of this Federal Government. Nobody yet has been able to tell us how much the Government's health scheme will actually cost. All we have seen to date is a Bill that the Government is attempting to whizz through today which will require 1 .35 per cent of the income of each and every working person to be paid, with a ceiling of $150. But with inflation at the rate of 22 per cent a year what will that percentage be next year? What will it be at the end of the following year? I clearly recall reading articles in English newspapers which stated that the English health scheme was cracking at the seams and was falling to pieces. It would be saved only by a sudden injection of another £Stg500m. Costs were escalating at such a rate that only extra money could hold it up. The Opposition spokesman, the honourable member for Hotham, explained earlier quite forcefully how everything that the Government has touched has fallen to pieces. I plead with the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), who is at the table, on behalf of not just the Opposition but all Australians to bring his influence to bear in the Cabinet and to see -

Mr Stewart - Will you finish if I give you a promise?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) -Obviously the Minister is convinced as to the correctness of the argument I am presenting because he has just promised to do this if I sit down. If he listens to me, he will be even more convinced. The point I am making is that our shadow Minister, the honourable member for Hotham, has shown clearly that everything that the Labor Government has touched has been destroyed. We cannot afford this Government any more. Australia cannot afford the destruction of the institutions which presently stand. Let us take into account the cost of the Government's proposed compensation scheme, superannuation scheme and health scheme. It has been calculated that these will cost an extra $4,800m a year. Is that right?

Mr Chipp - That is right.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I repeat that they will cost $4,800m a year. The component in the last Federal Budget collected from taxpayers in the form of taxation was $8,000m. This Government collected $8,000m from the Australian taxpayers to permit to introduce a budget on 17 September proposing expenditure of $ 1 6,000m. If the cost of these 3 schemes is added together for their introduction to be made possible taxation will need to be increased another 50 per cent or even 60 per cent. Everybody who is able to think knows that one of the problems in Australia today is that this Government has destroyed incentive. It is ripping so much from the wage earner and from every other person who goes to work that the stage has been reached when these people ask: 'What is the use?' If we do not have productivity or incentive to work in Australia, this nation will grind to a halt. All the grandiose schemes being proposed by this Government will not be possible for the simple fact that there will be no money with which to pay for them.

I predict, as we speak today in this Parliament, that the number of unemployed persons in Australia has reached 250,000. As I said earlierand it is widely accepted- inflation is running at 22 per cent. Contrary to the arguments of the Prime Minister inflation simply is not a world wide problem. It is a problem which we have in Australia as a direct result of the crazy policies of the present Government. It has absolutely no regard for a balanced economy. On every idea which the Government gets in its head it spends money like crazy to ensure that that idea is implemented. It is because the Government has transferred so much of the expenditure from the private sector to the public sector that Australia is in a spin like a rudderless aeroplane shot out of the sky.

Another untruth which has been told in this House is the story which has been spun for the sake of Queenslanders. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) stands in this House constantly and says that even though Queenslanders will have to pay this extra amount, it will mean about another $35m a year for the Queensland health scheme. I am getting sick and tired of saying this: I have taken the amount of money collected in income tax from Queenslanders, I have taken 1.35 per cent of this amount and allowed for those who are excluded because of their low incomes and I find that the Government is not giving Queensland a thing. It is taking an extra $35m out of our pockets, giving it back and saying: 'Are we not wonderful?'

Mr Chipp - And out of working wives' pockets too.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I will come to that. The Government wants me to stop speaking but there is no way in the world that I will stop because I enjoy dealing with the truth on this subject. So that is the great white lie. Furthermore, everywhere in Australia- a man, a husband, the head of the family unit -

Mr Stewart - Does the honourable member want me to call his bluff?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - If the Government gags me the division will take 9 minutes. I will speak for another 7 minutes so I will let the Government do its mathematics on that. The contribution now to a private health fund of a husband who is working covers the entire family. That contribution is tax deductible. Under this Bill, which is being rushed through at the conclusion of the sitting this year, if the wife goes out to work she also will be forced to pay into the Governments coffers. The contribution will not be tax deductible. The amount of $150 extra which will be taken out will not be tax deductible. This is another double barrel. The honourable member for Hotham outlined a very strong point earlier when he said that the Government is setting up machinery to process 90,000 claims a day. That is more than half a million claims a week. Can honourable members imagine how many extra public servants will be required to do this? The Opposition has already warned what will happen when we return to power. I notice the honourable member for Hotham used the word 'if. I do not even hesitate. I say that some time in the next year or so when we return to power this Commission will be dismantled by the incoming government. I say to those people who are thinking of becoming public servants in this area: 'Do not say that you were not warned. We might help you to get another job but we will not continue with the octopus set up by the present Government'.

On behalf of all Queenslanders and, indeed, on behalf of all Australians, I say through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Government should take a big jump at itself and recognise that almost all major decisions which have been implemented in the Government's legislative program have been disastrous. I freely concede that there have been minor things which have been welcome changes. But the major changes which the Government has brought to this country have been disastrous. A quarter of a million unemployed Australians can testify to this. Every working Australian can testify to this because inflation is so high.

Everything the Government has endeavoured to do it has mucked up. I ask the Government: Please leave us with the present health scheme. From time to time the Opposition has said that it will introduce minor changes to make the health scheme that much better. Over 90 per cent of Australians are presently adequately covered. We do not understand the mentality of the present Government which wants to tip over completely the present scheme just for the sake of 4 per cent or 5 per cent of our population and to introduce a scheme which has not succeeded in any other country. Finally, if the Government is wondering why its popularity is as low as it is, I point out it is because the Government has ab; olutely no conception and no sensitivity. We are sick and tired of the way this country is presently being run.

Mr Chipp - Mr Deputy Speaker,may I have your indulgence for 30 seconds? We are having a cognate debate on 3 Bills connected with health. As I have said the Opposition is intractably opposed to each of the Bills. Let the record show that, notwithstanding that, we will be dividing only once on one Bill to save the time of the House and to co-operate with honourable members. This is in no way to be read as any lessening of our resolution to oppose the 3 Bills. We will be dividing on the second reading of this Bill only.

Question put:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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