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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 427

Mr HAND(10.33) —I rise to speak tonight because of something I heard on the news which concerned me. The Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Sinclair) has called in security people to investigate whether the Party room has been bugged. I could have told him who was responsible for the leaks. It is not that the building is bugged. Any one of the National Party members one bumps into round this place is quite willing to tell one what has been going on at his Party meetings.

Mr McVeigh —Hey! Be selective.

Mr HAND —I could be very selective. I could name about a dozen of them. I have never been pulled into so many National Party rooms walking down the corridors of this place as I have been in the last couple of days. People have been quite willing to tell me about all the problems. I see the Liberals over there laughing their heads off. I would not laugh too much because I have been into about twice as many Liberal Party rooms last week hearing Liberal Party members tell me about their mates too. I see the two honourable members who the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young) talked about today. They will not even let each other come into the chamber on their own. One follows the other to see what he is going to say about him. So let us cut out this nonsense and drama about bringing in the security people to investigate leaks in the Party room. The Party is leaking like a sieve.

The state of the Opposition is very disturbing. I have a view about Parliament. Here comes another Opposition member. By God, they are pouring in tonight-literally pouring in. One of the problems we have in this country today is that we do not have an effective Opposition. When one is in government one needs an opposition to raise alternative points of view, an opposition to which people who want to put a case can come. But they cannot, because there is not an opposition at all. Opposition members are too busy tearing each other to pieces, talking about each other, leaking to the media about each other, and causing havoc around the country. It is an absolute disgrace. The Opposition is being controlled by a geriatric from Queensland who is dictating to it through the white shoe brigade of the beach circuit-what is it called?-on the Gold Coast. They are running the policies of the Opposition and the Opposition parties. This is a very disturbing feature for Australia.

We have heard today on the news services that the Opposition wants to cut pensions. That would be of interest to the people from the poverty action groups who have been around the place this week. When Opposition members talk to them I hope they tell them that they intend to cut their pensions. I hope that when they go to the polls and promise things in their election speeches, they announce to the whole world formally that they are going to cut pensions.

The Opposition would create havoc with the tax system. We hear two tax positions; no one quite knows which is the dominant one. That is going to create terrible confusion. According to the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), the Opposition is going to engage in an onslaught on the social security area. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) is backing the wrong horse. He cannot get up. I have done a bit of a count tonight and he is well behind. He cannot make it. So the honourable member ought to switch horses again and stick with Johnny, because perhaps he is going to stay there for a few more weeks. The honourable member will then have time to move back to Andrew again. It seems to me that the honourable member for Kooyong is now being totally dominated by Joh and would slash welfare by some billions-not minor cuts, but billions of dollars would be hacked from the welfare sector. The honourable member for Fisher (Mr Slipper) talked tonight about the Government's attitude to families. Our attitude to families has been quite good. The current social security review highlights a number of areas where we can further assist families. We intend to do that through our family package. We will please all families in this country when we introduce our very good family package.

The honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton), in a speech which was highlighted by frothing at the mouth and a whole range of hand-waving exercises, talked about honourable members on this side of the House being divided. I have news for him. There are no divisions on this side. Divisions on this side do not exist. Divisions on the other side are there for everybody to see: On radio talkback programs, on the television, in the newspapers. The Opposition is riddled with divisions. It is falling to pieces. There is absolutely no hope that it can be elected. Honourable member opposite will be lucky to be elected back here as Opposition members the way they are going. They should help the country by getting themselves together and working together in a cohesive way, otherwise they will fail in their responsibilities as a proper Opposition. At the moment Opposition members are a disgrace to the parties they represent.

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