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Thursday, 17 November 1960


Mr MINOGUE (West Sydney) . - I desire to bring before the House a matter on which I have spoken many times previously. I join with the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) in commenting on the fact that the Minister under whose jurisdiction the matter to which I wish to address my remarks comes - the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) - is not in this House. Honorable members know that I have appealed time and time again, on behalf of Lord Howe Island, for the building of the airstrip which is so badly needed there, but I have got nowhere with my requests. I think it is a standing disgrace that 700 or 800 miles from here there is an island with 300 residents and with at least 400 or 500 visitors during the summer months, but there is no condition of safety attached to the journey for people who wish to go to Lord Howe Island for their holidays. In the electorate of West Sydney there are many people who would like to go to Lord Howe Island for their holidays. It is a nice place for a holiday, with no politicians to speak of, no telephones, no newspapers, and no noise. There is a flying boat which serves Lord Howe Island from the Rose Bay wharf or air base, as you might call it.

I intend to place some questions on the notice-paper in order to find out from the Government something about this matter. I understand that the Government pays about £70,000 per year to Ansett-A.N.A. and for looking after the Rose Bay base. If that sum can be expended yearly on this dreadful service and if an airstrip could be built on Lord Howe Island for something like £200,000, I think it would be good business for the Government to construct the strip. The cost of getting to and from Lord Howe Island is about £14 each way. A passenger has to get up at an unearthly hour in the morning - about 2 a.m. - to go down to Rose Bay and catch the flying boat. This aircraft was built about 40 years ago and none of its kind is being built in the world to-day; yet this Government cannot be moved in any way to help the people of Lord Howe Island or the New South Wales Government to provide an up-to-date service.

It is said that the service would not be payable, but many of the things done by this House do not pay. Nevertheless, if an airstrip were provided on the island Ansett-A.N.A. or some other company could carry the people to the island once or twice a week and give them some measure of comfort on the flight. Many of the ordinary people who go there or want to go there are young people - -rock'n'rollers or something like that - and I can assure the House that they rock'n'roll from the time they leave Rose Bay until they get into the guest house on Lord Howe Island. They get off the flying boat at Lord Howe Island as best they can, jumping into a rowing boat which takes them about 200 yards to the beach.

We know what happened in the recent presidential elections in the United States of America. Possibly the loss of the present administration's majority there was caused by two islands. Quemoy and Matsu, because the defence of those islands was a burning question. I can assure the House that when the next federal election takes place I will make a burning question of transport to and from Lord Howe Island. Do not run away with the idea that I am lacking votes in West Sydney, because my majority over the Liberal Party candidate in 1958 was about 17,000 votes. I represent part of the largest city in the Commonwealth and my electors realize that Lord Howe Island needs a vastly improved service. I do not think it is right that the people who require to go to Lord Howe Island - people who are sick and want to recuperate or those who want to spend holidays there - should have to bear the present inconvenience. I regret to say that the proprietor of "Pinetrees" guest house on

Lord Howe Island, died recently. He took a boat there for the convenience of the visitors and took them out twice a week for a pleasure run. His death was a great loss to the island. It is sad to say that this Government ignores the whole question. I will leave it at that at present and will find out what is the joke between this Government and Ansett-A.N.A. about Rose Bay and the rocky road to Lord Howe Island.

The next matter of which I wish to speak is the pensioners in my electorate. To-morrow, Saturday and possibly every day in December I will attend functions at which 200 or 300 pensioners will be present, at Glebe, Newtown, Millers Point and Woolloomooloo.


Mr Chaney - I hope you pay to go in.


Mr MINOGUE - It would be a bad lookout if the honorable member went there, because I do not think he is too generous to the pensioners over in Perth. In speaking of the pensioners to-day I am referring to people who have no houses of their own or anything at all. I give credit to the Government for the merged means test and for anything that it gives the pensioners, even if it is only an additional 5s. a week. Nevertheless, at a time when the Government has failed the country and has failed to stop inflation the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) thinks this is a good Government because it looks after the country from day to day. He said so last night. The Government keeps a watchful eye on the farmers, but it is the pensioners who are being squeezed by inflation. The Country Party takes £13,000,000 a year from this Government as a subsidy on butter. When the Government suggested recently that the subsidy should be reduced gradually year by year, naturally the Country Party opposed it.

The honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) who has recently joined us in this place is not the Prime Minister's man. I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) say during the campaign in the Calare division, " I want Meares; Meares is my man ". But Meares did not turn up here. He was beaten by 4,000 votes. The Country Party is demanding many favours from the Government and is getting them.

The point that I wish to make is that if this Government does not give some relief to the pensioners who are starving, they will be in a sorry position. We have wheat, wool and other primary products growing, in our own country, but apples cost 9d. each and eggs cost 7d. each. How can the pensioner, who has to pay £2 or £3 a week for a room, buy any of those things with the £2 that he has left. How can he buy bacon and steak at 7s. and 8s. per lb., and the other things that he sees in shop windows? If this Government was honest and sincere, it would attach to a pensioner's card, every time he collects the pension, a ticket which would entitle him to obtain 1 lb. of butter and one dozen eggs free, or at least at a concessional rate. If the farmers can loaf on the country and make their occupations pay by reason of the subsidies that they receive from the Government, surely the Government can do something for the people who have pioneered this country and now are too old to obtain a job. In all sincerity, I ask the Government to do something for the pensioners.







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