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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1345

Senator CROWLEY(3.57) —I start my remarks much as the Minister for Social Security, Senator Grimes, did, by pointing out to Senator Peter Rae, who is sitting opposite, that not so long ago when a Government member accused someone of being a national socialist he had to withdraw that remark. I feel I can just pass over that remark, but if the honourable senator is into abuse, we note it.

The Senate is debating a matter of public importance in these terms:

The deception being perpetrated on Australians by the Hawke Government's introduction of Socialism by stealth.

Senator Martin, in introducing this matter of great importance, argued that socialist policies are here. I say to her that they are, well and truly. We are a democratic socialist government. We are delighted that she has got that clear and we thank her for so clearly advertising what this Government has achieved though, it might be said, some of my colleagues in the Australian Labor Party are not quite so convinced. However, we are delighted that at least the Liberals are clear about it.

The first word of any significance in the matter of public importance is the word 'deception'. The only deception that we can talk about is the deception that has been displayed by the Opposition; it does not even know what the real issues are. Members of the Opposition are the ones who are being deceived. It is a wonderful exercise in self-deception which they have then generously applied to all Australians.

I would like to draw the attention of the Senate to the editorial in today's Adelaide Advertiser. The Advertiser is the main morning daily newspaper in South Australia and it is not known for its desperately radical views. The editorial in the Advertiser today had this to say, in part, when talking about the Opposition and Mr Peacock and their getting the issues right or wrong:

The debate on Tuesday-

that is, the debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday-

in which Mr Peacock failed to name the names which might have given some credibility to his denunciation of the Prime Minister as an associate of crooks, was a disastrous setback for him.

The editorial continued:

The fact is that the mere existence of organised crime in this country, as revealed by a series of Royal Commissions, cannot be attributed to Federal Government shortcomings. Nor can the Government fairly be attacked about it without clear evidence that it has evaded its responsibilities or has some direct association with criminals.

The editorial goes on to talk about what the Federal Opposition should be doing. It states:

Wider national issues, matters affecting the economy such as the future of the prices and incomes accord, possible changes in the structure of the taxation system, pensions, tariffs and trade policies are the things to which voters require candidates to direct their attention when election campaigns get underway. They have been too much overshadowed in recent times by matters of less substance. They remain the matters on which the Opposition should be probing for weaknesses in the Government's performance and undertakings for the future.

I think it is very significant that the editorial points out that the Liberal Party of Australia quite clearly is self-deceived in what it regards as the important issues. It is not talking about what matters to the Australian people. It is not talking about the economy. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, is almost desperate for questions about the economy. From time to time some of his own back benchers give him the opportunity to speak about the economy, because the Opposition certainly will not. It has no policies on the economy. It has no understanding of what it will say and it has a big problem because this Government is achieving many of the things that the Opposition would like to have been able to achieve while it was in government during the seven years in which it led this country into an utterly disastrous state.

We have heard the most extraordinary remarks from honourable senators opposite. Senator Martin talked about the need for choice. Quite clearly, her understanding of choice is choice for those who can afford it and not choice for all. She addressed this question under the heading of Medicare which is, of course, of no surprise to goverment senators. It is one of the few issues that the Opposition can sometimes complain about. Senator Martin thinks that there is more choice for people when two million Australians are not insured and therefore have to risk remaining well, knowing that if they should ever become ill or have an accident, the cost of their health care would be prohibitive. Under Medicare, those two million extra Australians are covered by the universal health scheme. They now have the choice. Two million Australians have a choice that previously they did not have. That is one of the benefits of the Medicare scheme.

Senator Peter Rae —She did not say that.

Senator CROWLEY —She definitely argued that under Medicare there was less choice . The interesting thing is that, in answer to Senator Martin, under Medicare this Government has ensured that two million Australians now have the choice and the confidence of being covered by the Medicare scheme which is universal and which guarantees that choice to all Australians. This Government does not believe in choice only for those who can pay; it believes in choice for all. It believes in redistribution. It unashamedly says that that is what it intends to do. The ridiculous notion that Medicare is reducing choice is very well illustrated by the two million people who now can choose.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time allocated under Sessional Orders for this debate has concluded.