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Tuesday, 23 October 1956

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I regard the contribution to this debate of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is second in command of the Labour forces in this House, as the best illustration I know of heavy weather as applied to public speaking. He said that he did not care whether the levy on cathode ray tubes was £7 or £70. I would regard that as a very haphazard outlook on the part of a leading member of the Opposition in respect of something that may be of very great importance. He did not care whether the duty was £7 or £701 What kind of statement is that to hear from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber?

Mr Calwell - I am a socialist.

Mr TURNBULL - Furthermore, the honorable gentleman condemned television. Everybody in this country who knows anything about politics knows that speeches made by honorable members opposite when they were in office prior to Labour's defeat in 1949, showed that a high priority in Labour's programme was to be given to the introduction of television. Anybody who requires verification of that statement by me need only consult the records in " Hansard ". Everybody knows how, after this Government came into office, members of the Opposition criticized the Government for delay in the introduction of television.

Mr Chambers - No!

Mr TURNBULL - lt is all very well for the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) to deny the truth of that assertion, but the " Hansard " reports of statements made by honorable members opposite after this Government gained office prove that my statement is correct. Honorable members opposite were asking questions about television such as, " Why is the Government dithering over television " ? Now that the Government has made possible the introduction of television to Australia, honorable members opposite are still complaining.

Everybody knows that if the Government had not made the introduction of television possible, the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne, this afternoon, would have been based on the question, "Why is Australia lagging behind other countries in introducing television " ? He would have pointed out that smaller countries than Australia have the advantage of television. I represent a country electorate, and T realize that, for a long time, my electors will not obtain any advantage from television. The advantage to be had from that modern development will be enjoyed by electors in divisions like the division of Melbourne, represented by the honorable member for Melbourne in this House. But in the area that I represent it is a different proposition. Were I to condemn the introduction of television, it would be understandable, but it is difficult to understand the views expressed by the honorable member for Melbourne, now that the Government has made television a fact.

In passing, I should like to point out that the honorable member for Melbourne revealed to us to-day, for the first time on this Parliament, so far as I know, a Labour point of view that is the direct opposite of what we are always given to understand is Labour's attitude. I refer to the honorable gentleman's statement that Australia was at a great disadvantage in competing with manufacturers overseas in the production of television equipment, because Australian workers had the benefit of a 40-hour week whilst workers in other countries work a 48-hour week. Labour supporters in this House have been saying for a long time that Australian workers are able to produce in a 40-hour week as much as, or more than, workers in other -countries produce in a longer working week. But the honorable member for Melbourne, in am attempt to buttress his case - and making a very bad fist of it from Labour's point of view - said that we have to impose increased tariffs on overseas equipment for the simple reason that the Australian manufacturer has to pay higher wages to his workers than are paid to similar workers overseas, and that Australian workers have the benefit of a 40-hour week compared -with longer working weeks overseas.

Mr Calwell - I did not say that at all.

Mr TURNBULL - The honorable gentleman may make his apologies later. He said that workers overseas had a 48- hour working week and a lower basic wage. If the honorable gentleman wants to deny that he said that, let him do so in a personal explanation, which I challenge nim to make now. Anybody who wants to find out exactly what the honorable gentleman said can read it in " Hansard " tomorrow. The honorable gentleman said that because of the price disadvantage resulting from the 40-hour week and higher -wages in Australia we had to keep out of the country goods that were produced more cheaply overseas.

Mr Bird - Are you in favour of the 40- hour week, or not?

Mr TURNBULL - Am I in favour of the 40-hour week? I have always maintained that the 40-hour week was introduced an Australia before we were ready for it.

But that matter is not covered by this debate. I merely rose to point out how the present attitude evinced by the honorable member for Melbourne differs from the attitude that he and his colleagues would have adopted had the Government not made the introduction of television to Australia possible. I also wished to point out that he had told us - and it was the first time we had heard it from the Labour side in this House - of the great disadvantage under which Australian industry was operating because of the 40-hour week as against the 48-hour week in other countries. If any member of the Labour party wants to support the contention of the honorable member for Melbourne let him do so.

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