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Thursday, 6 May 1993
Page: 263


Mr CAMPBELL (11.51 a.m.) —I must admit I came to this debate unprepared but what I want to do is talk about what I see as Australia's greatest challenge. I actually wrote a paper on this some time ago. Australia has faced many challenges in the past. I guess the first great challenge this nation faced was the First World War when arguably the First and Second AIF constituted the greatest soldiers this nation has ever seen. Many were slaughtered and that denied to Australia a lot of the leadership that should have been here for the development of this country.

  It is interesting to reflect when people try to divide history and divide a culture that the First and Second AIF contained in their ranks many soldiers who were actually born in the United Kingdom. In fact, at Gallipoli, where Australia performed enormously well, one-third of our soldiers were born in the United Kingdom. It is also not widely known or recognised in Australia that the losses suffered by Britain in that battle were twice as high as ours. That was a great loss to Australia because it took away the leadership that should have been here after the war. I believe it was one of the greatest losses we have ever suffered.

  The next great challenge we faced was the Depression where we had massive unemployment. A third of the work force was unemployed in this country. I think the third challenge was undoubtedly the Second World War. The fourth challenge, while not being as visible, will probably be more important to the future character of this nation than any of the other three. I refer to the coming battle between the nationalists and the internationalists.

  One of the sad things is that those who often pose as nationalists are in fact internationalists who are seeking to tie us to treaties with other nations. They seek to lock us into international obligations which are primarily not in the interests of Australia or, I might add, the interests of the Australian people.

  I think there are men of honour on both sides. There are people on the internationalist's side who truly feel that Australia has no other option other than to lock itself into being a part of something else. This is a continuation of the cultural cringe. This harks back to our first great conflict, the First World War, when we lost that strata of leadership. Prior to the First World War this view did not exist in Australia. This was a proud nation, this was a nation where the Australian tail used to wag the British dog. Foreign policy in this part of the world was made by Australia.

  An example of that, of course, is Mabo. It was not Britain that annexed the Murray Islands. Britain wanted nothing to do with them. They were annexed by the State of Queensland in 1859. It was done against the wishes of the British. They simply went along with it because Australia demanded it. Quite clearly the Murray Islanders are of a different culture to Australian Aborigines. They are a Melanesian culture and in the Melanesian culture there is a history of land tenure.

  I take issue with a lot of the evidence given in the Mabo case. I think it was probably fairly suspect. The concept of terra nullius did not mean there were no people in Australia. That is a nonsense, of course there were people here. But everywhere the British went, be it New Zealand, Malaysia, India, North America or Fiji, they signed treaties with the natives.

  They signed treaties because that was their modus operandi. That has its own problems, and we have seen those in North America and New Zealand, but that was the way they operated. The instruction to governors-general in Australia was always to sign treaties. The reason they did not was that there was no structure under which to sign them.

  It is also true that, in large parts of this nation, there was simply no Aboriginal habitation. I was involved in the opening of the Nullarbor, the last great pastoral development Australia will ever see; there will never be another one. When I went to that area in 1960, there were no kangaroos on the Nullarbor, for the same reason that there had been no Aboriginal habitation—because there was no water. Within four years of putting the bores down on the Nullarbor, a man could shoot 100 kangaroos a night. In the late 1970s, to survive, I did so.

  I believe that, if we are to have a truly independent Australia, we must have full employment in this country. We cannot have full employment without industry policy. Anyone who tells people that we can have jobs for our kids without manufacturing in this country is simply lying or, of course, stupid. They are not mutually exclusive; they could be both. I believe that we have to look very carefully to this manufacturing industry, and it has to be recreated in Australia.

  The problem we have in Australia today is simply this: as the economy improves—and it is always going to be cyclical in nature—immediately there is wealth in the community it is used to suck in imports because there is no manufacturing capacity in Australia. We can ask ourselves why. Both political parties must take blame for the reason. In the days of Malcolm Fraser the exchange rate was kept artificially high, which simply drove manufacturing industry to the wall. We had years of irrational high-tariff policies. I am not a high-tariff protectionist, but I do believe in the support of Australian industry.

  Nowadays, we have the level playing field, for which my party must take some responsibility. This too has decimated Australian industry, for there is no level playing field; and we have seen other nations who do not pay lip service to this nonsense thrive at our expense. I think we have to get much smarter in the assistance to industry. In terms of exports of manufacturing goods, our achievements have been considerable. I think the 18 per cent compound growth over the last 10 years is creditable, but it came from a very small base. A large part of it is motor vehicle offsets. There are some good endeavours. Shipbuilding is an excellent example. I was depressed to see in the Governor-General's speech that we are going to reduce the shipbuilding bounty, for I have a view that one should give assistance to the industries which are effective.

  If we are to get to manufacturing industry in this country, we have to change some of the ethos. The problem is not wages. I can tell the people of Australia this: if the wages of this country were halved, we would not create massive employment in this country; we would not create a mass of jobs at all. One of the problems is the availability of capital. People talk about the high savings rate in Japan and how this was the engine that drove the Japanese economy, and I will concede that there probably is a greater ethos to save in Japan. This is substantially because the Japanese have an appalling social security system whereby people have to supply their own because there is no government provided safety net. So people have to save.

  But there was another issue. The Japanese kept very tight control of currency. They did not allow money to leave the country. Had they done so in the early 1950s, Japanese money would have fled Japan to other countries where returns were greater. The money was forced to stay in Japan. I believe that this country would be well advised to look at currency controls to control the outflow of currency from this country, to force the people to keep their money in this country.

  If people want to take their money out of the country they should have to have a very good reason for it. If they can convince people that there is a good reason, then it would be okay and they would be permitted to do so, but generally we should have currency controls to keep the money in the country, to make it available to industry here. One of the great costs of an industry is capital equipment. Without that, there is going to be no competition. The average age of machinery in Australian factories is getting into the eight- to 10-year range. In Korea it is two years. That is where the productivity lies. It does not lie in cutting wages; that is simply not the answer.

  If we are going to build a united country in Australia it is important that we look at some of the problems that are working against this. I have heard just about every speaker in this House applaud multiculturalism, but what do we mean by multiculturalism? What I mean when I talk about multiculturalism is officially sanctioned and funded multiculturalism. I abhor that sort of multiculturalism; I think it is dividing this nation. I believe that if it were put to a vote of the people of Australia it would be overwhelmingly rejected.

  I come here as the member of an electorate which has a very large migrant constituency, one of the largest in Australia, and I have overwhelming support from migrants. The reason most migrants come to Australia is for the benefit of their children, and these migrants want to be Australians. Many of them reject being closeted and told, `No, you can't be a real Australian, you've got to be an ethnic'. I find that situation intolerable. I believe that anyone who comes to Australia should come here with a commitment to this nation, to being Australians and to making this their home. If they lack that commitment, I think we are entitled to say to them, `Why are you here? We have no need for you'. Truly I believe that Australia has no need for people who have no commitment to this country.

  Looking at the immigration program generally, I believe that for environmental reasons, for social cohesion and pure economics, it is time to reduce immigration to this country. We have seen the Triads imported to Australia through the business migration scheme. The cost of this to the nation and to each of us individually is enormous, if it were calculable—we do not really know what the cost is, but it is clearly enormous. It has done nothing for the benefit of this country. We are told we need these people to enhance our trade with Asia. Ironically, of course, our trade with Hong Kong has dropped dramatically since we have had this large influx. It seems to me that there is never any scrutiny of the arguments that are used to sustain high levels of immigration.

  What is the effect of the importation of skills? The effect is to promote migrants over Australians and to deny Australians training in those skills. If we are going to build a nation it is far better to train our people to make sure that they have the necessary skills. But this is part of the cultural cringe I have talked about: the cringe that has developed that it must be better overseas; the cringe that used to be directed towards Britain and the United States is now directed towards Asia. It is a nonsense. I have a friend who is the chief pilot for a large organisation which provides technical services. This company is a world leader that has expanded across the world and it has opened branches in America. My friend said to me, `When I knew we were going to America I thought, "I will really have to be on my metal now because this is the absolute peak of aviation", but when I got there I found the standards were abysmal, that if I could get Australian pilots in there—which I can't because of work permits—I could increase my company's productivity by 200 or 300 per cent'. Yet how many people would look to Australia as the peak of aviation and to Australian pilots as being the most competent in this technical field?

  I have another very good friend in Kalgoorlie who is a mining engineer, probably one of Australia's best mining engineers, particularly in the area of difficult mining and deep shaft construction. He is British but he has mined all over Europe, Africa and Australia. He said to me that he will get a job done in Australia quicker, safer and cheaper than anywhere else in the world. He said it is not because Australians work harder—in fact, he gives that to the Irish—but he says they work safer and smarter and they show the initiative required. He said he can do a job with two men less on the platform, which is important in shaft sinking because of the constraints of room. I think this international view is a credit to us. Yet how often do we hear that we must import these skills because somehow we are inferior? I abhor this cringe which Australia has developed. It is unnecessary and it has done a lot of damage, and it is being used today.

  We are now being told that we must move into part of the Asian sphere. Now, I believe in trade with Asia. I go to China a lot and the Chinese do not think they are Asian; they look upon themselves as Chinese or Han people. They have a healthy disrespect for a lot of other Asians. They like us precisely because we are not Asian; they see us as a non-threatening Western technology nation. If Australia is going to trade successfully we must trade with the world. The world is our oyster. We must supply the world in those things which we are particularly good at producing.

  There are going to be trade barriers raised against us but they will not be raised in some of the areas vital to Australia's trade. We will sell our minerals because we are the world's best miners. We provide competitive price and quality product. In other areas it will not be so easy. We must seek other alternatives. But I say now that manufacturing export industry is simply not enough for Australia. What we need is import replacement. If we had that import replacement industry, our improving economy would not be sucking in the overseas exports that we are doing now and compounding our current account deficit.

  I am in the process of writing another paper, an interminable and an unrewarding job in this place, because for backbenchers it is hard work, lacking the resources, and, with media that do not pay much attention to other than the frontbenchers of either side, it is a disillusioning business. But I put it to honourable members now that we ought to think along these lines. In Queensland we have proven resources of oil 25 times the size of Bass Strait, enormous resources of proven oil, in shale. Those shale oil resources, because of Australian technology, are now buyable at about $24 a barrel. I saw the price of North Sea oil at $20.80 a barrel the other day—not that far off the marked price. That is about the equivalent to our Bass Strait high quality oil, the same high quality oil which you can get from shale oil.

  If we were to forgo excise on the sale of oil, we could deliver petrol to petrol bowsers at the same price as, or probably marginally cheaper than, we can now. Forgoing that excise would be of very good use, unlike the Liberal Party's intention to simply throw it away and waste it and obviously get the money from somewhere else. This would be very constructive because we would turn energy from a narrow, highly capital intensive industry into one which employed a lot of people.

  If we were to decide as a nation that we were going to develop our oil resources from this area, it would have an important impact on manufacturing industry. Heavy industry would blossom to provide the plant and equipment to do this. It would take time and improvements would be incremental. As the availability of shale oil improved on the market the Government would reap its benefit from pay-as-you-earn taxpayers rather than from excise on the oil. The Government would not be out of pocket in the long run, we would have unemployment on the way down and we would have something that was developing cohesion in this nation.

  We would also make available, of course, our Bass Strait oil for export. The Fraser Government introduced world parity pricing. The real reason for it was to get more revenue, but it was applauded by the oil companies because they got more money, and what is going to happen now, under this scenario, is that they can export to the world. We will always sell our oil on the world market because it is good quality oil and the world would like to deal with us. There would be no trouble selling it. We would have to accept the world price, but I would estimate, and it is a ballpark figure, that we are spending something in excess of $25 billion a year on oil. If that were made available for export income, we then clearly would have the growth in the current account deficit beaten.

  There are many other areas in which we should take these initiatives. We will not take these initiatives unless we have a united Australia confident in itself and confident in its future. If we are prepared to face the world clear-eyed and unafraid, we will survive. We will not survive as a nation by grovelling to others, by seeking to tie ourselves to the skirt strings of other nations or other groups. We must survive on our own ability as a nation. We must look to the world for those challenges.

  There is no embargo, for instance, on horticultural products into the Common Market. There is absolutely no reason why we could not be exporting horticultural products into Europe. We have developed the technologies so that these things can be sent fresh by boat, reducing the cost. Just think of this: the world's greatest market for table grapes is the United Kingdom; it imports $1 billion worth a year. It would like to import them from Australia. Why the hell are we not selling them, because they are paying twice the price that prevails in this country? There is there, I hope, Mr Deputy Speaker, some food for thought, and I thank the House.