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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3774


Mr COBB(3.28) —After listening to the empty, shallow, irrelevant and pious waffle of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Canning (Mr Gear), let us knock on the head right at the beginning the concept that the present Government has been trying to perpetrate; that is, that the waste in spending by this Government is no different from what we have experienced under all previous governments. How wrong that idea is. Sure, all governments in the past, and no doubt all governments in the future, will waste some money. That is inevitable. What the coalition Waste Watch Committee is objecting to is the deliberate channelling of taxpayers' money in massive and increasing amounts into the most bizarre and wasteful projects imaginable. It is almost beyond belief what this Government will spend money on. The Government is using taxpayers' money in a blatant and unconscionable fashion to buy the silence, the support and the votes of their little mates and of vocal minority trendy groups right around Australia.


Mr Slipper —Shocking.


Mr COBB —It is. In many ways it is the most blatant abuse of the trust that taxpayers would normally expect from an elected government, certainly in the history of this country, if not the Western world. If the taxpayers of Australia, if the media of Australia knew the full story of what is going on in this area they would rise up in protest and demand that this Government be thrown out of office, pronto. Almost every area and every portfolio that has access to funds from the public purse has abused the spending of those funds in an immoral way.


Mr McGauran —Every single one of them.


Mr COBB —Yes. What is worse, when the Waste Watch Committee pointed out this horrendous waste, as it has over the preceding months, the Government ignored and shrugged off its revelations. The day of reckoning at the ballot box for this supreme indifference cannot be far away.

Let us look at some of these grants so that the public knows what we are talking about. Community employment program grants totalling $1,200m have been a minefield of public waste. Let me list a small sample of them. This Government gave the Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament-it has close links with the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia-a grant of $47,568 to employ three people for a year to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. Boy, that must have been some party! The Government gave the Printing and Kindred Industries Union $172,644 for nine people to investigate the extent of sub-award employment practices.


Mr Slipper —You must be joking.


Mr COBB —I am not. The Government gave the Victorian Teachers Union $110,617 to fund its women's affirmative action handbook. It gave the Australian Broadcasting Corporation $334,890 to employ 21 young people of non-Anglo-Celtic backgrounds to provide an opportunity for accented voices to be heard on the air and win acceptance within the community. I ask you!


Mr Hicks —What about SBS in the bush?


Mr COBB —Yes. We all remember how the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) announced a grant of $31,000 to the Arts Council of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to employ four people to work and train for 18 weeks with a professional clown. I am told that these people will be coming up for re-election when the Government calls the next election.

The list of such grants has now been stopped, although the grants go on, of course. In May this year some 700 CEP grants were for arts-related projects alone, totalling over $34m. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) refuses to give the details, although the simple push of a computer button would provide all that the taxpayers are entitled to know. The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on the John Laws program the other day that `information about the CEP program is quite readily available' is so far from the truth as to be an obscene statement for a Prime Minister.


Mr Hunt —I bet it won't be available from now on.


Mr COBB —That is right. If the Prime Minister is a man of his word I challenge him to release the details of these grants.


Mr Slipper —But he is not.


Mr COBB —No doubt his statements will become yet another sickening broken promise--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! The honourable member for Fisher will cease interjecting and, in particular, he will cease interjecting into his colleague's microphone and from out of his seat.


Mr COBB —Take the Women for Survival group, which assembled itself for a week in tent city on the lawns of Parliament House. We all remember how those women marked out their territory with urine.


Mr Nehl —The feral women.


Mr COBB —The feral lesbians. While all Australia was screaming for their removal the Prime Minister did nothing to offend them. He did not have the guts. In fact, he provided them with free electricity, and that came on top of a recent $2,000 grant so that they could produce a book on their Women for Survival movement. Not long before that, there was another Federal Government grant of some hundreds of dollars so that they could put on a photographic exhibition of their last demonstration at the Cockburn Sound naval base in Western Australia. Let us just hope that they left their hairy armpits out of the photographs.

Regrettably, pop pornography is a specialty of this Government. It gave $38,402 under a CEP grant to fund the notorious Streetwize comics. In these comics police are drawn as pigs and depicted as savages, child bashers and bullies. Children are taught all their `rights' about having sex and the virtues of having their own drug needles. This Government conveys the impression that it is okay to mainline drugs as long as people have their own needles.


Mrs Kelly —That is not true.


Mr COBB —It is here. Girls are told--


Mr Slipper —Table it.


Mr COBB —I will table it. Girls are told when they can have sex, when they can leave home, when they can buy condoms, when they can have abortions, and when they can buy cigarettes; and boys are told when they can have homosexual sex. It is all in these comics, and they are even being made available to six-year-olds, let alone teenagers. This Government has also poured money, running into hundreds of thousands of dollars, into a group called the Federation of Italian Labourers, Emigrants and Families.


Mr McGauran —Commies.


Mr COBB —Virtually every media report I have read over the last decade claims that this organisation has a close association with the Italian Communist Party, as the honourable member for Gippsland has said. The list of grants to FILEF goes on for pages and pages.

This Government is pouring an ever-increasing amount of money into homosexual groups in an attempt to win the voting patronage of these groups and to make this alternative lifestyle acceptable in our society. The list of grants to the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras festival is now legendary. Grants have also been given to homosexuals to write anthologies and to put on homosexual plays in theatres. As I said yesterday in Question Time, the Prime Minister even made a grant of $5,000 through his Department to the International Year of Youth so that the National Network of Young Lesbians and Homosexual Men could come together for their first national conference. What an outrageous way for our Prime Minister to spend taxpayers' money in the International Year of Youth. The public is starting to learn of these efforts. I see in today's Illawarra Mercury that Wollongong truck drivers and their wives are even applying for a $125,000 government grant for a local truck driver to conduct a study into his `declining sex life'. Apparently the long hours he works mean that he is spending most of his time in bed asleep instead of doing other things. The Government has also given a $5,000 grant to a group within the Palestine Liberation Organisation to set up an office in Melbourne.

It is in the Arts Council grants that the Government has gone truly beserk, pouring money into left wing groups. I have a nine-page list of grants from the Arts Council alone to left wing trade union groups. The other weirdo groups the Arts Council funds are too numerous to mention.


Mr Slipper —Table it.


Mr COBB —I would like to. The list shows grants of tens of thousands of dollars going to the Builders Labourers Federation and, as the honourable member for Mayo (Mr Downer) said, to the painters and dockers and so on. The Government has given grants of thousands here, there and everywhere for May Day celebrations, yet at the same time pensioners in my electorate are having their pension increases deferred. Trade union banner projects get lots of money. One grant was given to the Austral Bronze combined unions towards the cost of a banner to highlight unemployment in the coin industry. The Chullora railway workshops have received several grants of thousands of dollars each for murals and to have songwriters in their workshops. It seems that just about every left wing trade union in Australia has a songwriter in residence, a lyricist in residence, a muralist in residence, a musician in residence or a storyteller in the community. To say that this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money is to praise the concept.

The Government claims that all this is arm's length funding. What a blatant cop-out that is. The Government, for example, appointed a Victorian Trades Hall Council official to the Community Arts Board. Guess what happened after it did that? The Victorian Trades Hall Council has just been given $131,000 in grants from the Arts Council, along with $158,000-worth of CEP grants that we know of.


Mr Hicks —What do the pensioners get?


Mr COBB —Nothing. The Government's behaviour in the use of taxpayers' funds has been monstrous. The $11,000 it gave to design a surfboard for females is typical. The intended surfboard design-led recovery has been exposed as a wipe-out and, because of it, this Government will face a massive wipe-out when it confronts the voters at the next election.