Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 177

Mr HODGMAN(6.08) —We are dealing cognately with the Commonwealth Guarantees (Charges) Bill 1986 and the Australian Industry Development Corporation Amendment Bill 1986. Principally they relate to Commonwealth borrowings and, in specific terms, the Australian Industry Development Corporation and its work. It should be remembered by the Parliament that this legislation came into effect in 1970. It was the McMahon Government which moved to establish the Australian Industry Development Corporation. I think it is fair to say that in the intervening 17 years the Corporation has done an outstanding job. It is chaired currently by a great Australian, Sir Gordon Jackson, and I have no doubt at all that many businesses, many operations in Australia today, are there because of the assistance provided and the support given. But I have to say that if ever a government has shown itself to be two-faced, hypocritical and dishonest in relation to industry policy it is the Hawke socialist Government.

Let me give just a small example of the deception we see in this cognate debate. We can read through and through the Australian Industry Development Corporation Amendment Bill 1986 and the second reading speech of the Minister for Science and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Mr Barry Jones) but we will not see the amount of levy or the charge-in fact, I brand it as a tax-set out at all. However, if we look at the Commonwealth Guarantees (Charges) Bill 1986 we will find that, after it deals with charges in respect of Commonwealth borrowings, semi-government borrowings and the like, on page 3 a direct reference is made to the 0.5 per cent per annum charge which can now be levied by the AIDC in cases where it determines-and I emphasise `it determines'-that borrowings or raisings of money made after 8 October 1986 are to be guaranteed by the Commonwealth.

Once again this two-faced, hypocritical Hawke socialist Government shows its double standards, because effectively under the legislation one has Hobson's choice. I know that my colleague, the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly), who is at the table, would quickly pick up the point; that if one gets a Commonwealth guarantee, one finds that that evil department, the Department of Finance, will get its little sticky fingers in the honey jar and will levy 0.5 per cent. If one does not get a Commonwealth guarantee, one will have to pay higher interest charges, so either way one is over a barrel. I could not let the opportunity pass, as a former Minister, to say that once again we see the sticky, tacky little fingers of the Department of Finance.

I find it extraordinary that this Parliament has been the subject of deception by the Hawke Socialist Government in relation to two consecutive measures which flowed from the 1986-87 Budget. The first was the absolute lie-which is what it is-that the $250 being ripped off the university and tertiary students of Australia is an administration charge. There is no question at all about it-it is a fee. But the Government came into this Parliament and deceived the House and the people by saying that this was an administration charge in relation to university students-totally fictitious, totally false, totally untrue--

Mr Connolly —And gutless.

Mr HODGMAN —And absolutely gutless. The Government said that it is a levy-it is not a levy. I join with the honourable member for O'Connor (Mr Tuckey) in saying that it is a tax-no ifs, no buts. Who on earth will tell me that a flat, standard 0.5 per cent per annum charge bears any relation to the administrative work involved? In some cases the borrowings might be straightforward and simple-in some cases it might be a renewal or a rolling over of borrowings, which are processed almost automatically-but people will be slugged that 0.5 per cent. This Government seems to think that people on this side of the House do not understand the figures; that we cannot see through the fraud, cheating and robbery. That is exactly what it is.

I turn to the second reading speech of the Minister for Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, on which I base my case. The short point is that Australian industry should realise that whilst this Government on the one hand preaches support for it and preaches all good things to all good men at all good times, on the other hand it is robbing industry in this country. The figures are very significant. In the Minister's second reading speech he indicated, quite properly, that the AIDC had recently reported a record after tax net profit of $19.1m. Well done-good profit! Then a little further down we get an idea of the impact of this apparently small 0.5 per cent levy. The Minister talked about the assets of the AIDC amounting to $2,167.4m compared with $768.1m at 30 June 1982, which is an increase of 180 per cent. He congratulated the Corporation, then went on to say that the paid up capital stood at $100m. I am trying to pick up the figure in this rather extraordinary speech by the Minister where he indicated what the effect of the reduction will be. Of course-I am sorry, I am being tricked again, because it is not in that speech, it is in the other one. One has to read the two speeches to follow it. The figure is in the order of over $15m which will be saved-if I can use that expression-by the AIDC, but it will be paid by Australian industry. Frankly, it is a tax. Of that there is no question or shadow of a doubt.

I am sick and tired of the hypocrisy of this Government claiming that it supports Australian manufacturing-it does not. This Government has betrayed the Australian manufacturing sector. If you do not believe me, Mr Deputy Speaker, look at the raw statistics. Last year imports increased by a massive 21 per cent. Twenty-one per cent in one year is an enormous figure. In June of last year the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Senator Button) announced, as if it were of no importance at all, a 6 per cent increase in imports of textiles, clothing and footwear. Do you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that as I speak there are the ghosts of 350,000 Australians, who 10 years ago were working in Australian manufacturing, who are not working there today? Do you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that when Australian manufacturing is under increasing pressure, when goods are being dumped in this country day in and day out, this wretched, disloyal and unpatriotic Government does nothing about it?

The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) went to Beijing last year. When he got to Manila he released information-he did not release it in Beijing-which he had conveyed to the People's Republic of China, with which I have no quarrel, that when the current textiles, clothing and footwear plan runs out it could expect a major increase in importation of clothing, textiles and footwear. Without wishing to shock the Parliament, I have to say that the day is fast approaching-it will probably come within a decade-when Australian kids will go to school wearing clothes and shoes that have not been made in this country and we will be hard pressed to buy shoes and clothes made in this country.

The country is being flooded with imports by a government which says: `Be fair dinkum, support Australia'. We saw the Prime Minister pleading on television. He says `Be true blue' when his Government has permitted imports to increase by 21 per cent in one year. He cannot work out why the balance of payments figures have gone through the floor. One does not have to be Mandrake the magician to understand that if we permit massive increases in imports, when our exports have dropped, according to the January figures that have just come out, we will have the worst balance of payments figures on record. This Government says that it stands by the Australian worker, whereas in fact the Australian worker in the manufacturing sector is being betrayed day in day out by the people they thought were their friends and protectors.

I have said this before and I will say it again: Everything I wear is made in Australia. That is a standard rule. I will not strip, but I will run through it. I am wearing an Anthony Squires suit made in Australia; an Austico tie made in Australia; a Van Heusen shirt made in Australia; John Brown socks made in Australia; and Florsheim shoes made in Australia. I am sorry that the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) is temporarily out of the chamber, because Mr Barry Counsel is the head of Flor- sheim Shoe Co. Pty Ltd and Julius Marlow Holdings Ltd. I am wearing Jockey underwear made in Australia in the colours true blue-Liberal true blue. I am not having a shot at anybody else who wears Gucci or anything like that, but I wear Australian. I drive an Australian car, I have an Australian family and I am proud of Australian products because I am one myself. I was constructed in Australia and delivered right on time on 16 November 1938, so I believe in things made in Australia.

I talk about a government which says `Be true blue, be fair dinkum', then lets imports come in at the cost of Australian jobs. Look at the gutlessness of this Government which is absolutely hypnotised by the economic purists, these geniuses who come to bring salvation to us. They are the ones who look at the report of the so-called Industries Assistance Commission on the textiles, clothing and footwear industry. The implementation of the recommendations of that report could put 60,000 Australians out of jobs. This is a government which talks about being interested in women in the work force and in our ethnic communities. This is the same government which, with a stroke of the pen to implement that IAC report, could put out of work 60,000 Australians, of whom 80 per cent are women and of that 80 per cent of women, 90 per cent are ethnic. When the new Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young) goes running around the ethnic communities, I hope that a few of them will say: `What are you going to do about women in the work force-those in the textiles, clothing and footwear industry?' They are about to be sent to the gallows by the Hawke socialist Government, which says that it supports the workers, but of course it does not.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for the latitude which has enabled me to address my remarks to the manufacturing sector. As you would be well aware, the AIDC has played a significant role in two sectors which were referred to by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Griffiths), whose speech preceded mine. I compliment him on a very thoughtful speech. He pointed specifically to the passenger motor vehicle industry and to textiles, clothing and foot- wear. I want to talk now about the slaughter of the passenger motor vehicle industry by the Hawke socialist Government. My old friend the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services (Mr Uren) is smiling. In his fairness, he will recall that when this Government introduced the steel industry plan I was but one of two members on this side of the House who stood in this Parliament and applauded it. The Government's steel industry plan is first rate. The runs are on the board. I believe that Australia's indigenous, Australian-owned steel industry will go from strength to strength. You may remember, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I was mildly embarrassed that night in the House because applause is not usually permitted. Even worse for me; when I sat down I was applauded by the Socialist Left in Moscow corner. They thought that it was a marvellous speech. I have been fair and have supported the Government when I have thought that a proposal was proper and fair. In the steel industry plan it was first rate.

What has the Government done to the passenger motor vehicle industry in this country? It has effectively cut the throat of the industry. Sales are down a massive 160,000 vehicles as a direct result of the Government's iniquitous and vicious fringe benefits tax, the compulsory keeping of log books and the other cutbacks that have occurred as a result of the Government's full scale assault on private enterprise. How embarrassing and degrading it is to say to a reputable businessman: `We want to know exactly how many kilometres you travelled, where you went and what your journey was for'. Such a person is expected to have a much better memory than the Treasurer (Mr Keating). The Treasurer is so forgetful he forgot to lodge his tax return. It is a damned good thing that he is not a woman and on the pill. He would finish up very pregnant. The plain fact of the matter is that the Government is demanding a higher standard from the Australian businessman than it is prepared to apply to itself. The Government is turning this place into a second rate Soviet Union. It is a case of `Write it all down; tickey tack it in the little book; keep the dossier'. It is only a matter of time before we will have to put meters on the end of beds.

I am concerned that this country is going down the gurgler-down the road to a socialist republic. I am concerned that most people in Australia are just lying there, half asleep, not believing that that will ever happen. They think: `Mr Hawke looks so nice on television. We like the way he does his hair. He always turns up when Australia wins at sport. He is never there when we get done, but you know what it is like'. He is one of the best political operators that this country has ever seen. But the Government has killed the passenger motor vehicle industry. It is wiping out decent Australians who have earned a living in the retailing of new and second hand motor vehicles. The people in the street cannot afford to buy a new vehicle. It is almost as expensive as buying a Sherman tank. The right of an Australian to buy a vehicle today has been knocked sideways. I like the little signs I have seen on the back of cars which state: `I own this car, but I am paying for the petrol on hire purchase'. That is what the Government has done. Mr Keating, a modern day Ned Kelly, is robbing the motorists of Australia. One does not see too many of them going for a Sunday afternoon drive. They cannot afford to even switch on the engine, because every time they do so money goes into the Commonwealth Treasury coffers.

In the concluding moments available to me, I ask: What has the Government done to the workers? The ordinary Australian worker cannot now go into a pub and buy a beer and a packet of cigarettes. That is what the Government has done to the ordinary Australian worker. We in Tasmania have a standard eight ounce beer glass. The price of that glass of beer is now over $1. I know that the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services does not smoke or drink, but if I bought drinks it would cost me $1 for my eight ounce beer and about $2.40 for a packet of cigarettes. What would I buy him-a square and a lemon? I would probably get hit 85c for that. The whole thing would be over in 10 minutes. The Prime Minister said that he was a man of the people, that he was for the people, and would be with the people. Today, the pubs of Australia are like mausoleums. One could fire a cannon through them at 8 o'clock at night and not hit a soul. The ordinary worker cannot afford to go into hotels. He cannot afford a beer or cigarettes.

So there we have it. The Government floats along on deception and deceit. It did not even insert `0.5 per cent per annum' in the second reading speech to the Australian Industry Development Corporation Amendment Bill. I suppose it thought that the honourable member for Bradfield, the shadow Minister-he is at the table-and I might be a bit thick and we would not pick it up in the other Bill. It is not a levy; it is a tax. It is a tax on Australian industry which the Government says it supports. It is a tax on the development of Australian industry which the Government says it wants. Once again, it is an example of a government prepared to go the half truth in an attempt to get the legislation through the Parliament without much debate.

It is a tragedy that a government can resort to lies and deception, as it has in this case and as it did in the so-called administration charge for university and tertiary students. That was not an administration charge at all; it was a tertiary fee. I would like to know why it costs $250 to administer the studies of a student in Tasmania who is doing an extramural course from Monash University and has never put a foot on Monash University in his life. Where does the $250 administration fee come in for that?

The fact is that the Government has become very careless with the truth. The tragedy is that, unfortunately, many Australians are blind to it because they find the smiling face, the charisma, the coiffured grey hair and the handsome, tanned face of the current incumbent of the Lodge. They are prepared to accept what he says. He is on his last stay in the Lodge. He will be thrown out neck and crop at the next election, and I, for one, look forward-if I can afford it-to celebrating on that night the total defeat and, indeed, the total destruction of the Hawke socialist Government. Come the day; it will not come quickly enough for me. I thank the House.

Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.