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Thursday, 18 April 1985
Page: 1220

Senator MacGIBBON(1.03) —I am forced by the rapidly deteriorating circumstances in Australia to take the opportunity presented by the adjournment to bring the actions of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) into focus. The Prime Minister has many failings but since time is short I will deal with only the two most topical and most serious. They relate to the Queensland industrial troubles and to statements by the Prime Minister in relation to the Australian Taxation Office and the earnings of cricketers.

In relation to the Queensland industrial troubles, we have a Prime Minister who is inciting and encouraging the breaking of laws. He has the unanimous support of his Cabinet. The Prime Minister is supporting industrial anarchy. This industrial anarchy is not on a small scale but on a vast scale. It is not on a local scale but a national scale. It is not a minor economic penalty; it is threatening the whole of the national economy. In one sense, the scale does not matter at all. We have a Prime Minister who, for the first time in the 85 years since Federation, is actively and flagrantly supporting the breaking of the law. He is right behind the Australian Council of Trade Unions and their call to their 160 associated unions to target companies in Queensland with industrial action-companies which he mistakenly thinks are Queensland companies but which in fact are national companies. Despite the dissembling that we had from the Leader of the Government (Senator Button)-his disgraceful dissembling in answer to a question from me and from Senator Chaney only a few minutes ago-the Commonwealth is actively letting its employees, in the form of Telecom, run their own anarchy against the taxpayers of Australia. Section 45D of the Trade Practices Act is being broken by this massive secondary boycott. The Australian Constitution is being broken. There is not a word from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister takes several oaths when he takes office and he is breaking those oaths of office. The Prime Minister solemnly swears:

I do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law, in the office of Prime Minister.

How can he serve the monarch according to law if he will not uphold the law? It is absolutely impossible. There cannot be a selective application of the law. Nobody can say: 'Look, we will only apply a certain number of laws on the statute book. We will leave the others because we do not like them'. But, this is precisely the peacemaking move the Prime Minister put to the Premier of Queensland yesterday, it is in all of today's papers. He is saying to the Premier of Queensland: 'Don't worry, we do not want you to repeal the laws'-as if he had any right to request a Premier of a State in a federal system to repeal the laws-'Just don't bother applying them and it is all going to be all right'.

We live by the rule of law. If we do not have a rule of law we just have the law of the jungle-the strength of the strongest right arm. While that is very much in accord with the ethos of the Australian trade union movement, it is not in accord with the ethos of Australia or of the Western democracies of which we are a part. We simply cannot run a society if we have no rule of law. How could the police forces in any of the States apply the law if they had to go to the Premier of a State or a Prime Minister and say: 'Please, sir, which laws can we apply today; whom can we arrest?' It is an absolute nonsense. We do not have to think long about it to know that we cannot operate that way. What would happen if I encouraged people in this place by saying: 'Do not pay your tax money; do not obey the taxation laws. Taxation is theft'?

Senator Elstob —You do.

Senator MacGIBBON —No, I do not. I have always upheld the rule of law in relation to tax and that is why I am critical of your colleague Mr Dawkins and the way he went to the bottom of the harbour for a few million dollars. If we do not uphold the law we have anarchy. We have a Prime Minister who is supporting the breaking of the law. The second very important sense where he is breaking the law is in the way in which he is using the whole of the resources of the Commonwealth against a State. That is absolutely untenable in a federal system. I know a federal system is the most difficult form of government to have in a country. That is why it is impossible for the Australian Labor Party to cope with it. The technical and intellectual difficulties are beyond them. We have a Prime Minister saying: 'I will use all of the resources of the massive Commonwealth of Australia to beat, bludgeon and suborn one little State government'. If we do that, we do not have a federation.

Senator Elstob —That is what the Russians do in Poland.

Senator MacGIBBON —I know it is a Soviet technique you are advocating. The Government supports the Soviet techniques with its foreign affairs and all the rest of its anti-United States bias. While we have a federation, the Commonwealth of Australia, we cannot set the resources of the Commonwealth against one State. This leads me to speak here today because I really wonder whether the Prime Minister has taken leave of some of his faculties. I cannot really believe that a Prime Minister would wilfully and consciously not uphold the law.

The second very serious problem is the threat to tax the cricketers. I find that absolutely untenable. I have no objection to people paying tax. As I reaffirmed earlier to Senator Grimes, people have an obligation to pay tax in accordance with the law. But that is not what the Prime Minister said. I have taken the trouble, having read about it in the newspapers, to get a transcript of the Press conference of 17 April.

Senator Townley —What did he say?

Senator MacGIBBON —Yes, Senator Townley, I will say what he says.

The PRESIDENT —Order! If Senator Townley wants to interject, he should interject from his own place in the chamber.

Senator MacGIBBON —The Prime Minister said at his Press conference:

Another point I want to make on it-I notice in reading about the rumours, there's some suggestion that the players who would accept would be beneficiaries of a very considerable amount of money because it is . . . negotiated in a way which would avoid the payment of income tax in Australia. Can I just say this to those to who may be contemplating this offer, because it's been made, that the Australian Tax Office will be looking extraordinarily closely at any arrangements with a view to ensuring that tax to be paid in Australia in that can at all possibly be done they should not be contemplating the acceptance of any such offer if they are-

I apologise. It is a straight verbatim transcript of the Prime Minister and he does talk like this. He went on:

. . . contemplating the acceptance of any such offer if they are on the basis that there will be any slackness as far as the Australian taxation authorities are concerned.

Had the Prime Minister said, 'I hope the Taxation Office will apply their beady eyes to the affairs of these people who go and play cricket in pursuit of their professional careers', I would have had no objection, nor would anyone in Australia. But, what we have here is a direct threat by a Prime Minister to direct the Australian taxation authorities to look at the financial affairs of these people.

The parallels between Mr Hawke and Mr Nixon are quite chilling. You will remember that President Nixon used the business of tax audits against his political enemies. This is precisely the point that Mr Hawke is taking. He is using the threat of taxation sanctions, or directions to a statutory authority which he has no legal right to direct. Those statutory authorities are independent. He is threatening these people with a taxation audit because they are his political enemies. We know what happened to President Nixon and President Nixon was under stress. It is interesting to reflect and ask the question: Is Mr Hawke under stress? The answer to that must be very definitely yes. Is it big stress? Yes, it is big stress.

He has the Queensland industrial troubles that he cannot resolve. He has the cascading dollar. The Hawke socialist dollar is worth 63c today in New York. We have the tax debacle. We have Senator Gietzelt and the Left coming up with one plan that is totally opposed to that of the Treasurer. In foreign affairs we have a disaster. We had the MX missile agreement where the Prime Minister broke his word; we have the ANZUS problems. We have the whole business of the United States relationship in tatters. We have fights in the Party with Mr Howe breaking Cabinet rules and not being allowed to speak on a capital gains tax. We have Senator Gietzelt with his own far left fanciful things. Above all, we have the ever-present challenge of Mr Hayden breathing down Mr Hawke's neck and itching and scheming to get into the big seat in the corner office. Yes, Mr President, Mr Hawke is under enormous stress.

We have had two examples of gross and marked behavioural aberrations by this Prime Minister within the last week and they are of great importance to Australia. My suggestion is that the Prime Minister needs to get hold of himself and get back to the basics in administering this country. The correct procedure for the Prime Minister is, if he does not like the law of the land and that is perfectly within his province, to take the appropriate steps; that is, to change the laws of the country. After all, he is the Government and it is a simple matter for a Prime Minister, if he is so concerned about a piece of legislation, to alter that legislation. It is absolutely untenable for a Prime Minister to go around selectively picking parts of the law out and telling other people they need not follow those parts. It is absolutely un- tenable for a Prime Minister to go around and bludge on his political enemies by using statutory authorities to operate against them. I suggest that the Prime Minister get back to basics and do the right thing for the first time.