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Thursday, 9 December 1965

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - Mr. Speaker, I am amazed at the refusal of Government supporters to say anything about this Bill. Most Queensland representatives on the Government side of the House were very voca] in defence of big business when the Trade Practices Bill was being considered but not one of them has said a word about this measure which is designed to provide funds for the development of a part of northern Australia.

Mr Turnbull - This is a Government measure.

Mr CALWELL - That is so. The Trade Practices Bill was a Government measure too. Yet we were kept here for seven days as witnesses of a civil war in the Liberal Party concerning what should be done about that Bill.

Mr Daly - A seminar.

Mr CALWELL - It was a seminar, but not one that informed anybody, lt did not even entertain anybody. The Bill now before us is an important one. I believe that the Government should not be opposed for what it is doing in this regard. However, I believe that we should emphasise and that all Australia should know that this measure will not mean very much in terms of the development of northern Australia. It is typical of the Government's Brisbane line mentality. The only part of Australia that matters to the Government is that part which is south of a line drawn between Brisbane and Adelaide. You come from Adelaide, Sir, and it is of course an important part of Australia. Either we fill this country with people or we lose it. It is all very well for the Government to dawdle along and concern itself only about the area south of the line that I have mentioned, but we have to do something that will really promote the development of northern Australia.

Mr Brimblecombe - What about the inland?

Mr CALWELL - Anything north of the Brisbane line must be developed. I have been to Weipa. There is not much activity there. I have been to Cooktown. It is a dead town today. It ought to be a very important centre and it might be if we could only build a bridge over the Daintree River and put a road through. I have been to the Torres Strait islands and to Borroloola in the Northern Territory. All this is very rich country and it ought to be developed quickly. Weipa is not merely the centre of some great mineral deposit. It is in an area that we ought to occupy and develop. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) represents about 47,000 voters in an electorate that covers more than 120,000 square miles. It is a vast area. He and other honorable members who represent vast areas in the north have to travel continuously in dealing with many problems that arise from this Government's neglect of northern Queensland. It is all very well for the members of the Australian Country Party, who are interested only in wool, wheat, peanuts or other primary products, to be vocal only when their interests are involved. We all are Australians and we want this country to develop very rapidly.

This Bill should provide for more than the mere advancing of £1 million or so by way of a loan for the development of a harbour at Weipa. There ought to be many harbours on both sides of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Something must be done about the Torres Strait islands, particularly Thursday Island, which is only 136 miles from the nearest Indonesian part of New Guinea. All the area of which I have been speaking is 2,000 miles or more away from where we are tonight. Something more than mere talk has to eventuate. Not one honorable member on the Government back benches, all of whom are so vocal when big business interests are concerned, most of whom were highly vocal during the consideration of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill and most of whom were vocal in the dispute between the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), a member of the Liberal Party, and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in regard to so many matters. Let us hear from some of these honorable members tonight if they have any views to offer about the development of northern Australia. The Australian Labour Party is the only Australian party in this Parliament. It has always been the only Australian party. We want all Australia to be developed. We want this country to be made safe for our children and our children's children so that their occupancy of this great continent will not be disturbed. The last six Bills have been passed without one observation from any Government supporter. Honorable members opposite are not interested in the brigalow lands or in the development of northern Australia; all they are interested in is getting out of this place as quickly as they can and staying out for as long as they can.

Mr Turnbull - We stay here longer than the honorable member does. We challenge the honorable member on that statement.

Mr CALWELL - I always stay here. The honorable member who interjected is the only member on the Government side who ever really seems anxious to stay here and, if he has nothing else to talk about, he will talk about skeleton weed. I make this protest about the refusal of the Liberal Party and the Country Party to say anything about the development of any part of Australia, that is not south of the Brisbane line. If they have anything to say as to what they think ought to be done for Australia or about how the country can be made safe for our children and our children's children, let them say it now.

Mr Luchetti - Or forever hold their peace.

Mr CALWELL - Yes, or forever hold their peace. I hope I have stirred the possum in some of them. I have given up hope of any of the backbenchers opposite ever saying or doing anything in regard to Weipa, Cooktown, Gladstone or any other part of northern Australia. I know that something will come out of this legislation for Gladstone. At least I hope that will be so. I do not believe that we should allow Australia's assets to be gouged out and sold to Japanese and Americans who are thus enabled to benefit themselves by using such assets in the manufacture and fabrication by cheap labour of articles which are sold to Australia. In effect, such assets are resold to us to the detriment of our economy.

Mr Devine - American capital with coolie labour.

Mr CALWELL - Yes, and also Japanese capital. We are supposed to have won the last war. One thing is certain - we have lost the peace.

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