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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2174

Mr BILNEY —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Special Minister of State. Have any requests been received from the Leader of the National Party for additional staff or other facilities to enable the right honourable member to cope with his new and significantly altered responsibilities?

Mr YOUNG —I am informed by the Special Minister of State that the only request the Department has received-not the Minister but the Department-is from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bennelong. Concerning reshuffling staff, there is a bit of a grab on for the Liberal Party to get more than its share. I should reiterate what happened after the election in 1983 and that is that the Prime Minister made available to the Opposition parties a more generous allocation of staff than any government had previously given an opposition. One can only wonder what all those staff have been doing for four years. One of the major tasks of the Opposition is supposed to be that of preparing itself for government.

The fact of Australian political life at the moment is that only one party can govern Australia-the Australian Labor Party-because the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bennelong, can no longer espouse any policy. It will all be just piffle. He will not have a majority in the Liberal Party in the House at any time to be able to tell the people before the election about what he is going to do, because as soon as he makes any announcement about his consumption tax Joh will be on the phone and will say: `It is not on'.

As for the hill tribes, they can never govern in their own right. The gall of the honourable member for Bennelong and the right honourable member for New England in getting their parties into the state they are in and still holding their positions means they have more front than Taronga Zoo. How can they still sit where they do after dragging their parties down and humiliating their colleagues, the honourable member for Goldstein, Senator Peter Baume and the honourable member for Kooyong, to appease all the extreme right wingers? They humiliate their own colleagues, yet the honourable member for Bennelong tells us that he is going to become the Prime Minister of Australia. What with? He has to win 30 seats. The harsh reality of going into the next campaign-as he will see if he looks through the book-is that the Liberal Party has to win 30 seats. It cannot win them so it does not matter what the honourable member for Bennelong says.

There is a very good case for taking all the staff back. Those opposite do not need them. They do not need any policy research. Whilst they were together we asked them to tell us what they would do with taxation and they kept telling us to hang on and it would all come out. It does not matter what they say now, because they will not be able to do anything they say. They cannot do it; they have split parties. The truth that has to be understood in Australian politics is that this is the only party that can govern Australia-the Australian Labor Party-because if the country votes for the mob opposite it will not know what it is going to get. Fancy having children like Downer sitting on the front bench while the honourable member for Goldstein is sitting up the back, as is the honourable member for Boothby.

Mr Spender —I take a point of order, Madam Speaker. We may as well observe the ordinary rules. We know that the Minister will get up as the Government jokester once a day but there is a rule about referring to members by their names and there are also rules about relevance. I know that they are rather flexible in this House but he is way away from any relevance to the question.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will do well not to reflect upon the Chair.

Mr YOUNG —I will call him the honourable member for Mayo. But the other disturbing feature about the development this morning is that at 10 o'clock I was rung up. I dropped my cup of tea. I was told that the Great Gatsby was now the Leader of the House. He takes three weeks to think of anything. He has asked the Attorney-General one question in 12 months. He used to get $5,000 a brief-fair dinkum. It has to be understood clearly by everybody in Australia that the Labor Party contains the only people who can govern. Those opposite can humiliate their colleagues, sack them, dismiss them, and argue over seats and offices, but now they have isolated themselves. Their talent is up the back. Some of their yes men are down the front. The Liberals were going to stick with Sinkers. They have done well with him. He has one more move and then he is sitting on the step. Actually, we do not want him to leave because in an election campaign it is good to have him around. He is a good target.

Those are the facts that have emerged. People have been telling us for the last three or four months that the coalition would survive. What nonsense that is. They told us what agreements they were going to reach and how they were going to do things. So now there is a policy-we do not know for sure yet but now those opposite have split they can come down to the 25c tax rate-which is a great millionaires' taxation policy and the 8 per cent consumption tax will be back again. What will happen to Senator Peter Baume, the honourable member for Goldstein and the honourable member for Kooyong-the people the Liberals have humiliated in their own Party? Are they going to sit there up the back or will the honourable member for Bennelong bring them back to the front bench? If the honourable member had any decency or any guts at all, he would walk into his Party room, submit his resignation and see whether the Party wanted to re-elect him. The right honourable member for New England will not do that-he is too old and too cunning, and the last time he signed his name he got into a heap of strife.

At the moment the Opposition crew is an absolute joke. It does not matter what honour- able members opposite say about their policies in future; everybody in Australia will know that they cannot carry them out. Those are the bare facts of Australian political life. Opposition members are an absolute joke. They should send all their staff on annual leave because they do not need them to waste time researching and writing policies for them.