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Thursday, 25 August 1983
Page: 294


Mr TUCKEY(2.53) —I am almost unique in this place because I am one of the very few people present, apart from the Leader of the House (Mr Lionel Bowen ) and, on occasions, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis)-he was not given a great opportunity to make a major contribution-who attended the National Economic Summit Conference. I attended because I was interested in defending the rights of my constituents in any activity that takes place in this parliamentary chamber. We are elected to the Parliament following great competition. An excellent democratic system operates in Australia. I sincerely hope that that performance, that publicity stunt, known as the National Economic Summit, will not be repeated in this place to the exclusion of the people who are elected under the democratic systems that apply in Australia. It was a disgraceful use of this place. It was more disgraceful because it was used as a publicity stunt. It was used by the master of publicity, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke).

Honourable members might ask why I found it necessary to attend the Conference on behalf of my constituents. On the first day I realised that we were taking the first step towards American-style presidential politics. We are all aware how that system works and we are all aware of the ambitions of the Prime Minister in that regard. The Prime Minister, of course, is quite happy to see a republican situation. I am sure that if he could attract his close and long term friends from big business around him to run the country and completely ignore this place he would certainly do so.

This morning he claimed again that those people will be right behind him at all times. I believe that those captains of industry whom he has cultivated for so many years will be behind him for some time. He invited them to this place to the exclusion of all the other people who are entitled to vote in Australia. Those captains of industry may change their minds eventually but in the meantime he knows that they are a lot easier to handle than the people the Australian public voted for to assist him in governing in this place. Consequently, it was necessary for me, on behalf of something like 600,000 proprietors of small business and some four million unrepresented Australian workers, to be in this place for the National Economic Summit Conference while the Prime Minister and his close friends had their fun. The proceedings were televised and, of course, they conducted their publicity stunt. Let us look at that in its true light. Who were the other losers in this original attempt at American style politics? What about the 30 newly elected members of Parliament, the extra people necessary to give the Prime Minister government? What was done with them? As has been the situation ever since, they were left out in the cold. They were left out in the cold yesterday morning. I think few of them yet realise, after all of their hard efforts on behalf of the former Special Minister of State, just how far out in the cold the Prime Minister's comments of yesterday have left them. He has done it to them again. He has again abrogated the time honoured method of Caucus. If honourable members want to hear what was said I will read it to them. The Prime Minister replied to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock ), as recorded on page 19 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 23 August. In talking about something we did, he said:

That is what members opposite do in respect of royal commissions. Those are their standards in respect of resignations. Less than 12 months ago they followed a course of action unprecedented in the history of this Parliament by which they made a mockery of the concept of ministerial responsibility. Their own Minister felt impelled to resign as a result of their own Royal Commission. They would not accept that and they then set about attacking the Royal Commissioner.

A bit further on, in talking about the Special Minister of State, he said that the Minister said:

'I put my resignation in now';

The Prime Minister went on to say:

and it was accepted. In that context, and because his action is involved in the consideration of the Royal Commission, it was regarded as reasonable for this Party and this Government to decide that no further action would be taken in regard to filling that vacancy until the report of the Royal Commission came down. But I tell honourable members opposite this:

He was talking to us, but I hope those behind him got the message-

The course of action followed by this Government and by the honourable Member for Port Adelaide is the opposite of what they did less than 12 months ago--


Mr Keogh —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It might be appropriate to remind the honourable member that he is supposed to be talking about the National Economic Summit Conference.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond) —Order! This is a cognate debate. I believe it covers a wide area of politics but the honourable member for O'Connor might keep that in mind.


Mr TUCKEY —The theme of my argument in relation to the Economic Summit and the very reason that I came uninvited into this place during the Summit was to prove that an honourable member has the right to do that. I am now giving honourable members opposite some good advice and I am proving to them that they, as members of parliament, abrogated their responsibility. They did it because their own leader let them down. I believe that the statements I am now making are very much in line with that thought. I wish to say these last few words. I am only quoting from Hansard, when all is said and done.


Mr Hand —But that is not in argument.


Mr TUCKEY —I am not even developing an argument. I am reading to honourable members opposite their leader's words. I will give honourable members the argument when I read these last few words from the Prime Minister:

. . . honourable members opposite will not find this Prime Minister acting as their Prime Minister acted less than 12 months ago when he attacked in this House the Royal Commissioner that his Government had appointed.

The Prime Minister has painted honourable members opposite into a corner. He has told them that there is no way that any decision will be made about their former Special Minister of State other than the decision of the Hope Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies.


Mr Hand —No, you are wrong again.


Mr TUCKEY —Anyhow, honourable members opposite can make their own decisions about that. The situation at the Economic Summit was the same. He pulled the rug out from under honourable members opposite.


Mr Keogh —Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order--


Mr TUCKEY —The honourable member does not have a point of order. He is only wasting time. He should learn a little more about the Parliament and keep his seat.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I believe that the honourable member for O'Connor is returning to the point. I call the honourable member for O'Connor.


Mr TUCKEY —The principal and single point is that the Caucus, the basis of the history of the Labor Party, was ignored by the Economic Summit as it was ignored yesterday. I do not care if honourable members opposite do not want to hear that . I do not care if that is not the way they see it. I am telling them what will happen in this Parliament in some months hence. When they get up in the Caucus and try to protect their friend, those pages will be quoted to them. It is too late. They are painted into a corner. The Prime Minister is too smart for them; he is not too smart for me.

The Economic Summit was a tax dodge. It was a tax dodge to get the Prime Minister out of his promises of tax cuts. He said so on the Mike Walsh Show. He said: 'Of course, if there are not to be the tax cuts that I so honestly promised'-this from the man of great integrity who never breaks his promises-'it will not be because I decide; it will be because the members of the community represented at the Economic Summit will decide. Who were the members of the community at the Economic Summit? There were 30 union cronies and 20 or 30 big business cronies, a couple of people who the Prime Minister managed to get from the Social Security field. There are many individuals who are not members of associations. I have told honourable members that only two million workers are affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and there are six million workers in Australia. All those people were not represented because he went past the normal procedures that exist for the community to be represented by members of parliament. That was what he needed. He needed someone, if only for the grand thing. But how did he structure it? When we first read the newspapers--


Mr Hand —That is not true.


Mr TUCKEY —I was here. The honourable member should not deny me because he was not. The Prime Minister was going to have two days of set speeches and two days of discussion so that at least something could have occurred amongst those present. But what did he do? It might have been because he saw me sitting there and I told him that when the discussion came about that I would have some contributions to make on behalf of my constituents that in the first and opening statement he made he told those present that if they chose to make a speech to this wonderful thing they should submit their paper to a committee that would vet it. As the Summit was being televised he wanted to make sure that nothing said--


Mr Goodluck —Is that true?


Mr TUCKEY —That is absolutely true. It was his opening statement. There we had this great Economic Summit at which every word was censored and checked. Of course, a delegate could submit what he liked on paper but if it was not what the Prime Minister wanted he did not get the call.


Mr Hand —That is not true. That is rubbish.


Mr TUCKEY —You were not there; you do not know. You were too frightened. The Prime Minister told you that you could not go. Only one person had the courage to take his seat in this place.


Mr Hand —You are talking utter garbage, utter rot.


Mr TUCKEY —Is that why it is hurting?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond) —Order! There is too much interjecting. I suggest that the honourable member for O'Connor address his remarks through the Chair.


Mr TUCKEY —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will follow that course. These are the situations that occurred at the Economic Summit and this is the situation that we have today. The sorcerer's apprentice, a fellow called Kelty, came along . On behalf of two million or six million workers he said: 'We do not mind if you do not give us our tax cuts. We have come to the conclusion on behalf of our two million members that perhaps we do not need them, that you could do better for us'. Who was the sorcerer's apprentice or, more specifically, who was the sorcerer? The sorcerer's apprentice, of course, was Kelty and the sorcerer, in the terminology of the day, is 'thou, our Prime Minister'. He got his closest friend to get up and say that. I want to be introduced to the workers whom he represents who thank him for that statement. But what was it worth? Who is he anyway? He is not elected to this Parliament. He had no right to make promises in this place on behalf of six million workers. These were the things that came out of the Summit. Of course, out of the Summit came a communique. One can read for pages and pages from item 15 through to item 23 that the conference had a commitment to centralised wage fixing. Item 20 states:

It is recognised that if a centralised system is to work effectively as the only way in which wage increases are generated, suppression of sectional claims is essential . . .

What do we see in an article appearing in the Australian Financial Review dated 23 August? We see an article headed: 'Heinz wages surrender'. What does that tell us? It tells us about sectional claims. It does not tell us only about the extra $15 to $20 a week that the workers have bludgeoned out of H. J. Heinz Co. Australia Ltd after it had made a total profit of $857,000. It is a big company. The workers have snipped $400,000 off its profits. Honourable members opposite tell me that this is the way to encourage the economy to get back on its feet. This is only the start of it. The same article states:

The Heinz settlement follows the building industry agreement for allowance increases of between $14.80 and $19.90 a week . . .

They are the public claims! There have also been sectional claims involving the Altona chemical complex, et cetera. So much for the Government's Economic Summit ! The whole basic issue of centralised wage fixing was forced upon the industry representatives present. Before they walked through the door of this House they knew that their invitation was conditional upon their agreeing to centralised wage fixing. That was contained in an agreement honourable members opposite signed with the unions before they invited the industry sector to take part in that wonderful Conference and the great consensus. As industry representatives went through the door they were told: 'You had better read this as quickly as you can because that is what you will decide'. Only one group of people can object to that document and that is the people who sit on this side of the House . Honourable members opposite have all had to sign that document too. I know one person in particular who was running around in my electorate saying that he was anti-protectionist. I told him that he was in breach of contract. Any honourable members opposite who break these rules will be in breach of contract.


Mr Gear —What was his name?


Mr TUCKEY —He backed off because he knew-as does the honourable member-that he did not have any rights at all. As a member of the Australian Labor Party he has to toe the line.


Mr Gear —What was his name?


Mr TUCKEY —His name was Kim Chance who opposed me, and I did him like a dinner. The Economic Summit did nothing for Australians and in the short term it has done a lot for the image of the Prime Minister. But now the Prime Minister has to stand by it. Already there is evidence that the decisions taken have collapsed. The communique is not worth the paper it is written on. Honourable members opposite know that and I know that. But I hope honourable members opposite realise what the Prime Minister's presidential style of politics is doing to them.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.