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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Dr HEWSON, Mr HAWKE)
(Mr HULLS, Mr KERIN)
(Mr REITH, Mr KEATING)
(Mr COURTICE, Mr KERIN)
(Mr REITH, Mr KEATING)
WOOL EXPORTS TO CHINA
(Mrs JAKOBSEN, Mr KERIN)
(Mr REITH, Mr KEATING)
(Mrs CROSIO, Mr ROBERT BROWN)
MOTOR VEHICLE INDUSTRY
(Mr McLACHLAN, Mr KEATING)
PHARMACEUTICAL BENEFITS REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL
(Ms McHUGH, Mr STAPLES)
INDUSTRIES ASSISTANCE COMMISSION AND INDUSTRY COMMISSION
(Mr REITH, Mr KEATING)
(Mr GRACE, Mr KEATING)
TEXTILES, CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR INDUSTRIES: PROTECTION
(Mr REITH, Mr KEATING)
GOVERNMENT'S HIGHER EDUCATION POLICIES
(Mr PRICE, Mr DAWKINS)
- HAWKE MINISTRY
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORT
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS COMMISSION
- SELECTION COMMITTEE
- REFURBISHMENT OF RESERVE BANK, 60 COLLINS STREET, MELBOURNE
- CONSTRUCTION OF AUSTRALIAN PAVILION AT EXPO 92, SEVILLE, SPAIN
- BOUNTY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1990
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE BROADCASTING OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS
- LIMITATION OF DEBATE
- DECLARATION OF URGENCY
- ALLOTMENT OF TIME
- SELECTION COMMITTEE
- SOCIAL SECURITY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1990
SALES TAX LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 1990
SALES TAX (Nos 1 TO 9) AMENDMENT BILLS 1990]
- SALES TAX LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 1990
- SALES TAX (Nos 1 to 9) AMENDMENT BILLS 1990
- GREAT BARRIER REEF MARINE PARK AMENDMENT BILL 1990
Tuesday, 15 May 1990
Mr TRUSS(5.01) —Mr Deputy Speaker, to be chosen as a representative in this place is a very great honour. It is also a great responsibility. The people of my electorate have great hopes and expectations of what I may be able to achieve on their behalf and I hope that, given time, at least some of those expectations can be fulfilled.
I would like to thank the people of Wide Bay for giving me this opportunity. I particularly thank the many Party supporters and friends who ensured that the National Party of Australia received such an excellent result in Wide Bay.
My philosophy is straightforward. I believe that government policy should support the family, encourage initiative and reward achievement. This philosophy will inevitably result in a more productive workplace, lower taxes and a fairer society.
Most Australians today consider their Federal Parliament to be remote and even out of touch with their needs and aspirations. There has been a tendency for the Government and the bureaucracy to lock themselves away in Canberra and to lose touch with what is happening in the real world. Consequently, the people become disillusioned with their capacity to influence the political process and eventually they lose interest in Federal affairs altogether.
This country is facing major economic and social problems and this legislature should be seen to be fully relevant and occupying itself in seeking solutions to those major difficulties. We need to be planning in this decade for the Australia of the next century.
Wide Bay is one of the original Federal electorates and its history can be traced back to Federation in 1901. Its first member was a former Labor Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Andrew Fisher, who served until 1915.
My predecessor, Clarrie Millar, was first and foremost a parliamentarian. He strongly believed in this institution and was firmly committed to its forms and processes. He earned universal commendation in his role as Deputy Speaker. I was pleased that he was present in the gallery last week during the election of the Deputy Speaker to hear the many commendatory remarks from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and other honourable members about his contribution to that office. I owe Clarrie a great deal. I acknowledge greatly his contribution and assistance both during the election campaign and since I have taken up this office. I owe him more than most-I am even married to his former secretary.
Australia, despite its vast area, is now one of the most urbanised nations of the world. Even in electorates like Wide Bay, which commentators would regard as rural, most people live in the provincial cities and towns-cities like Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Gympie and towns like Kingaroy, Murgon, Nanango, Wondai, Imbil and about 50 more.
Probably every rural industry in Australia can be found somewhere in the electorate of Wide Bay. Tourism is, though, now a major contributor to our economy, with Fraser Island, Hervey Bay and the Bunya Mountains being perhaps the best known attractions. I served for four years as chairman of what is now the Fraser Coast-South Burnett Regional Tourism Board Ltd and had the privilege of promoting this region around the country and helping to build it into one of the fastest growing family holiday destinations in the land.
It is a tragedy to see the decline in the number of farmers in Australia. But the rural population in areas like Wide Bay has not declined. These days the empty farm houses are being filled by a new type of rural resident-city people who are escaping the rat race and looking for a pleasant and fulfilling country lifestyle. But there are nowhere near enough jobs for these new residents.
It is high time that we recognised this new population shift into rural areas. I suppose it says something about our cities but it also means that there is an urgent need for services and facilities in these growing rural residential areas to match the new demand.
Many of those moving to rural lifestyles are a part of the great migration from southern States to Queensland that has been occurring over recent years. Around 50,000 people a year have been escaping from the Labor regimes in the south to live in the progressive and dynamic Queensland environment.
Unfortunately, Queensland now too has fallen to the Australian Labor Party machine and one can only hope that this aberration is of such short term duration that Queensland's fundamentally sound and vibrant economy will not be given the Keating, Burke, Cain, Bannon and Wran treatment. The signs are not good. Queensland has now had six months of Goss Labor and in all that time there has not been a single major new project announced. Indeed, several exciting new developments which the previous Government had brought close to fruition have now been put on hold or could be lost altogether. The Gladstone steelworks and the exciting Cape York space project have been stalled and they run the risk of being lost altogether. The cranes are coming down and the Premier admits that he cannot even guarantee to keep the lights on any longer.
In his maiden speech, Clarrie Millar found it necessary to devote considerable time to defending the electorate's hardwood timber industry. Sixteen years on, the battle has not been won. There is still pressure to list the major source of our hardwood timber industry, Fraser Island, for World Heritage purposes. Let us make it abundantly clear: 90 per cent or more of the local people do not favour World Heritage listing of Fraser Island. Neither, I might add, do the two local State Labor members of parliament. They know that there will be no benefits in locking away vast sections of our region.
Fraser Island is no pristine wilderness. It has been logged for over 100 years. Fraser Island timber was used in the Suez Canal. The island has been sandmined and has a number of tourist resorts.
The case for listing is pitifully threadbare but that has not stopped the conservation movement in the past. Already, the professional demonstrators are moving up from Gippsland to organise their usual media stunts-choosing a sunny Queensland location for their winter protest venue. It is high time that the Government stood up to these radical green protesters. It should know that these professionals will not be satisfied with just one more concession. What is needed is sustainable commonsense.
Timber is the only renewable building material and is by far the most environmentally friendly. The alternative to carefully managed Australian logging is importing timber products from the clear-felled jungles of South East Asia or South America. We should be encouraging the Australian timber industry as an environmentally positive thing to do.
The first member for Wide Bay, Andrew Fisher, came from the Queensland Parliament. My background includes 14 years in local government. In fact, I am still the Chairman of the Kingaroy Shire Council.
All the cliches about local government being closest to the people are, of course, true. But that very fact makes it the tier of government the furthest away from the Federal Government, which has drifted so far away from the people over recent times. The Federal Government starves the States because it cannot balance its own Budget and then the States pass on those cuts to local government.
The major issue confronting local government and very much of Australia these days is the question of road funding. Labor's cutbacks in this regard are a national disgrace. They are already leading to an irretrievable breakdown of our nation's road assets. Some local authorities in my area have already been told that they can expect within two years not to have any funds at all for new road works. Labor has trebled fuel taxation but has frozen road funding for six years.
Obviously, the Opposition's election platform, which was supported by every motoring organisation, every local government organisation and every rural organisation in the land, touched some raw nerves on the opposite side. One of the real tragedies of the election result is that we will not have the opportunity to put those election promises into place and in three years time even that amount of extra road funding will not be enough.
I appeal to the Government to again look at its miserly attitude towards road funding. If the roads in honourable members' own electorates are not bad enough they should come and look at mine. We still have highways that are not sealed, maintenance that is deferred for years and even a section of the national highway which will still be a goat track at the turn of this century.
Australia has been built on its great primary industries. Early in our history our country enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world. We reached that pre-eminent position because our rural and mining industries were beginning to prosper. Despite continuing attempts since that time to foster secondary industry, our prosperity has continued to depend on the performance of the primary sector. We should, of course, strive to develop industries in other areas where we have particular skills.
However, we do nothing to develop a successful secondary industry by denigrating primary industry. We do not make one man rich by making another poor. Instead of regarding our primary industries as somehow inferior or beneath the dignity of a modern and progressive country, we should be proud of the achievements of our farmers and miners and do what we can to enhance their profitability. The primary sector still has enormous capacity to rescue Australia from the economic precipice, if only it can be given a fair go.
There is no country in the world that treats its farmers worse than Australia. The Third World nations, which battle with the risk of starvation, know that they need to encourage their food producers. The great international economies such as the United States of America and Europe recognise the essential part that rural industries play in making those economies great.
In Australia the attitude is so different. This Government has presided over the greatest persecution and exodus of farmers in our nation's history.
There is much talk about the need to develop a level playing field. Internationally, the Australian Government's efforts to break down world trade barriers are to be commended. However, despite the numerous conferences and trade groups meetings, little progress, if any, is being made. Domestically little progress, if any, has been made to break down the industrial rorts and feather bedding which entrench structural inefficiency.
We have anything but a level playing field. Australian farmers are tilling a totally different kind of paddock than exists in the rest of the world. Australia's policy of unilaterally eliminating trade barriers and opening up its markets indiscriminately is foolish. Other countries dump their unwanted and subsidised products in this country and give us nothing in return.
There are few Australian primary industries which are not currently under threat from cheap imports. An Australian industry should not be abandoned just because it cannot compete with imports from a country that has labour costs of a dollar a day. An Australian industry is not inefficient just because it cannot compete with imports from a country with subsidised production costs or domestic price support programs. An Australian industry cannot be expected to compete with a country which does not have the health standards, restrictive work practices and the repressive taxation regime which Australians have to endure.
Around 10 per cent of our monthly trade deficit is coming from food imports. In a wonderfully productive country such as Australia we have $160m a month of food imports. We once exported these commodities; now we eat other people's food. With our massive trade deficit why are we importing pineapples from an American company in Thailand while $1m worth of Australian pineapples rot in the field? Just the threat of subsidised Canadian pork imports has been enough to slash the price of Australian pigs to below the cost of production.
Dozens of these industries will disappear altogether unless they are given a fair go, a level playing field. These industries are not large or wealthy enough to finance public relations campaigns to highlight their problems or to fund Industry Commission submissions or anti-dumping inquiries. The National Farmers Federation was keen to take their money for its fighting fund but has lost its way in academic debate.
There is a strong case for pre-emptive anti-dumping measures such as apply in other countries. But also let us make sure that the Australian shopper is aware that foreign food imports are frequently produced using chemicals which are banned in this country, using farm practices which are unacceptable in Australia and with health standards and residue limits that would not meet Australia's stringent requirements. Some of these imports even have the potential to introduce new diseases or pests to Australia. The Australian housewife who buys Hungarian baked beans or Israeli peanuts is contributing just as surely to the national trade deficit as is the high flying entrepreneur or the man who wears Italian suits.
These problems have come to a head in my electorate over recent months. Five hundred farmers crowded into the Wondai Town Hall recently in a mood of sheer desperation. The district bankers say that almost half the peanut and crop farmers of the area now have no equity in their properties. With interest rates at 22 per cent, a debt doubles in three years. Land values have halved and many farm service industries have closed.
The Prime Minister said that by 1990 no child would live in poverty, but nearly all the farm children of the South Burnett are living in households that have had negative incomes for the last three years. The South Burnett is not a marginal farming area that has been worked out over the years. It is one of the richest and most productive areas in the country. It was one of the first in Australia to put in practice complete conservation programs. The farmers of the area have survived droughts and floods for four generations. What they cannot survive are the bad seasons plus an uncaring Government-a Government that has deliberately imposed high interest rates and repressive taxation, eliminated disaster relief programs and encouraged unrestricted dumping of competing products.
Australia faces a difficult period ahead. Our nation has not taken advantage of the improved world economy over recent years. At a time when commodity prices were comparatively high we developed major trade deficits and enormous debts. Now Australia seems to be entering a depression at a time when the world economy is weakening. We have squandered the good times and now we are paying the price.
The Government's record does not match the rhetoric. Labor's records pile up in an inglorious heap-record taxes, record debt, record interest rates, record bankruptcies and record social decline. Tax has become a millstone around the neck of every Australian industry and business. The only reward for energy, enthusiasm, enterprise and thrift is taxes.
It has often been said that Australia is the lucky country, but it has not been all luck. Australia became a great nation because there were people who were prepared to put in the effort and endure hardship whenever it was needed-the explorers who sought out the land, the pioneers who opened it up, the engineers who built our cities and bridges, the women who cared for their families and the soldiers who fought to protect it. These people did not look to the government or their fellow man to do the job for them. They did not demand their rights and entitlements as so many do today.
I fear that we have lost the momentum of our national growth. Has this generation decided that after all the effort we can now live on the fruits of those labours?
The country spends its time arguing about how to divide up the cake, forgetting that the cake is long gone. When someone tries to add to the cake, we find all sorts of obstacles to put in his way, and if perchance he happens to succeed we legislate to make sure he does not do it again.
The lucky country may still have one more chance. Australia is strategically located in the fastest growing sector of the globe. Within my lifetime this South East Asian quarter will be the most important economic arena in the world. It has a huge population and escalating demand. There is only one country in this area that has a land mass which even approaches Australia and that is China. It reproduces our population every 42 weeks.
Australia has bountiful resources and is a natural supplier of raw materials, primary products, food and fibre, education and tertiary services for this next economic beehive of the world. We have another opportunity for national greatness but only if we are prepared to grasp it, to encourage industry and initiative, and to support those who are prepared to give it a go.
Honourable members-Hear, hear!