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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1461


Mr DALY (Grayndler) - I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in condemning this Budget. 1 think the House is indebted to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) for his knowledgeable and penetrating analysis of the Government's proposals. Clearly he tore to ribbons the policy enunciated in this Budget which was out of date the moment it was introduced. As the honourable member said, the Budget provides amongst other things for an expenditure of about $S,833m. It imposes vicious increases in personal income tax, telephone charges, postage, petrol and cigarette prices, television and radio licences, medical dispensing charges and the prices of a few other items. It gives the very minimum in the way of benefits in respect of child endowment, pensions and assistance to rural industry and education. As I said during the debate on the Social Services Bill the Budget still excludes from any benefits whatever about 181,000 part pensioners.

In every way it is a Budget that does nothing to prevent inflation which has been caused by the policy of this Government; it does nothing to relieve those suffering from inflation and it gives little relief at all to those who are dependent on social services. But the Budget gives us the opportunity to speak on a number of things. At this stage of the debate I think that the financial aspect of the Budget has been well covered by speakers on this side of the House. But we have to look a little behind the curtain: we have to look at those who framed the Budget, at the record of the Government, at its internal dissension and at the things associated with its economic programme. We have to look at those who brought this programme about and who, because of their disunity, are at this stage completely destroying the trust reposed in them by the Australian people.

Probably at no time since 1951 or the recession of 1961 has such an economic crisis faced Australia. At least that is what we are told by those who know. The rural industry is in ruins, inflation has run riot, the value of money is rapidly disappearing and all sections of the community are alarmed at our economic prospects. Unemployment is rising. Even the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) prophesied that the level of unemployment would be over 100,000 at the commencement of the new year. In addition we are still engaged in Vietnam and the great issues of development, immigration and other national problems face the nation.

To handle this situation and to face the crisis is possibly the most discredited government of our time. It is a government of bits and pieces. The Prime Minister is without the support and confidence of his Party and in its ranks are members who are bent on destroying him and who are riddled with hatred and animosity. This in itself makes stable government impossible and unless there is an election and a change of government the outlook for Australia will indeed be grim. You know. Mr Deputy Speaker. I would compare the Liberal Party today as to, say. a family at war under the benevolent parternity of the father of the year, or in more colloquial terms the daddy of 'em all. The Party even numbers in its ranks prodigal sons like the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who is at. the table, and outcasts such as those who sit on the back bench. I suppose we could number the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and his colleagues among the black sheep of the family. I wonder whether the father of the year is regarded as a father figure, popularly welcomed by the family at the start of each sitting day to the tune of 'Oh my papa'. I wonder if this happens.

To add to the worries of the Liberal Party it has had. a shotgun wedding with the Australian Country Party and the honeymoon is over; the marriage has broken up and the decline of rural industries is a striking tribute to the Government's illgotten policies of the last 20 years. Every time I look at the honourable member for Mallee I feel that the Liberal Party must think to some extent as I do. I would say that the Australian Country Party would remind most people of an appendix. Like the Country Party, that organ is, in the first place, perfectly useless; in the second place it is generally unpredictable; and in the third place it is always a possible centre of inflammation. The Country Party is the second leg of the Government.

Let us have a look at the ministerial circus that has brought the Budget before us. In less than 4 years Australia has had 3 Prime Ministers, 4 Ministers for Defence, 5 Ministers for Foreign Affairs and 3 Treasurers. Even since March - 6 months ago - we have had 2 Prime Ministers and another one is coming up.

Since March we have had 3 Ministers for Foreign Affairs, 3 Ministers for Defence, 3 Ministers for Health, 3 Ministers for Education and Science, 3 AttorneysGeneral, 2 Treasurers, 2 Ministers for Labour and National Service, 2 Ministers for Immigration, 2 Ministers for the Navy, 2 Ministers for Housing, 2 Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs and 2 Ministers for Supply. This makes 31 changes at more than one a week. If that is not a razzle-dazzle and a musical chairs proposition then I am a Dutchman. This has all happened without an election, lt is no longer true to say in the Liberal Party that it is easier to get into Cabinet than to get out of it. Members and Ministers are giddy and uncertain. This is a record of instability without precedent in Australian history and intolerable in this democracy of ours. There has been purge after purge. Ministers have not been chosen on ability but on how they voted. The honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who is interjecting, could not pick a winner anyway with all of those changes.

It is said that the staff of the Ministers are asking for danger money such is the precarious nature of their job. It is known in Canberra today that departmental heads have rung the Minister and could not remember who was there yesterday. This is the Government that tells us that it knows how to run the nation. What a tragedy - what a shocking state of affairs! This is the Government that boasts of stability and leadership. We heard the Prime Minister say during question time this morning that we want statesmanship in this country. We do want statesmanship but we will not get it from those changes.

There is a Ministry of 27 and there are 6 Assistant Ministers as well as a Cabinet in exile on the back benches. One cannot say that we are not under-governed in this Parliament. Let us have a look at the Cabinet in exile on the back bench. This group is made up of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), an exPrime Minister; the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), an exAttorneyGeneral; the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), who was a Treasurer and a Minister for Foreign Affairs; the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), a former Minister for the Navy; the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), a former Minister for the Navy; the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who was the Leader of the House and a Minister for Air; the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), a former Minister for the Army; and not to leave the Country Party out of it, the right honourable member for Fisher (Sir Charles Adermann), a former Minister for Primary Industry. Looking them over, I find they are a much brighter lot than those who sit on the front bench at this time. That is not saying much but it is the best compliment I can pay them.

To add to our woes, with 31 changes and a Cabinet in exile, we have 6 Assistant Ministers. They are the honourable members for Cook (Mr Dobie), Wimmera (Mr King), Cowper (Mr Robinson), Corangamite (Mr Street), Senator Marriott and above all else the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Macleay), the revolutionary republican Rhodesian Mounted Rifles man. He campaigned against the sovereignty of the Queen with the Rhodesian people. 1 know that Ministers want assistance but putting that lot in to help them is a frightening prospect for anybody in this country. Let us look at the newspaper articles that we are reading at this time. The former Prime Minister decided that he would write his memoirs, so I am told. Of course, the Prime Minister, after reading the first fnstalment, according to the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph' - the paper you can trust - on 13th August 1971, said:

This afternoon I asked Mr Gorton, the Minister for Defence, to see me about his decision to write a series of articles for the 'Sunday Australian', the first of which has already been published. I informed him that in my opinion, his action breached the basic principle of Cabinet solidarity and unity and reflected on the integrity of some Ministers.

Following that the Prime Minister wrote this letter: 'My Dear John, Oh, how 1 hate to write. You know, we all know, that you must leave me tonight.' Then he ran down and subsequently the right honourable member for Higgins resigned. We know how it was done. A big axe, a little knife and he disappeared almost immediately. I now want to pose this question to the Prime Minister: How much longer can he, the Liberal Party and the Government tolerate a situation in which the former Prime Minister writing in a national newspaper denigrates senior members of Cabinet whose responsibility it is to run the country? I understand that the right honourable member for Higgins has been highly paid for these articles. I do not criticise him for taking payment because, according to open confessions made in the Parliament recently by certain prominent personalities it appears that the occupation of part-time journalist for some fortunate members provides a lucrative supplement to their parliamentary salaries. In my own case, I am not flattered to think that not only do I not get paid for any articles but I have never been asked to write any. Let us look at a few comments of the right honourable member for Higgins in regard to his colleagues. This is what he had to say of his colleagues in the 'Sunday Australian' of 8th August:

From time to time Cabinet Ministers have shown themselves so uncertain of their own opinions that they have chosen to canvass the value of impending legislation far beyond the Cabinet room, indeed beyond the confines of Parliament altogether. . . . Others are afflicted with the compulsion to try out ideas on their wives.

A petticoat government. What do honourable members think of that? That was written by the former Prime Minister and he should know. Now I come to the Minister for Defence who is at the table. He is a likeable, nice, decent type of fellow. We all like him. But listen to what the former Prime Minister had to say about him when writing in the 'Sunday Australian' on 22nd August 1971:

He could not in any one's imagination be thought to pose a competitive threat. He was well liked, painstaking, and basically honest, but was so pedestrian, conservative and slow thinking, that it could never have seriously occurred to anyone outside his domestic circle to imagine he had the capacity to head a government. Nor was he an ambitious man.

I do not like it. It is hard when that is said about you by your own kith and kin. After thinking (hat of him he offered him a job in Paris or London. Sir Alec Downer must be upset to think he could be replaced by a pedestrian, conservative and slow thinking Minister. The right honourable member for Higgins then went on to deal with the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), that distinguished tall figure. In the 'Sunday Australian' on 29th August 1971 he said:

Malcolm Fraser, the new Minister for Education, and former Defence Minister is a wealthy grazier from Victoria's western district. The possessor of inherited wealth and an only son, things have been easy for him. He is tall and good looking.

That is open to doubt. He continued:

He is a hard-working Minister with a capacity for application to detail. A strong-willed man, he is inclined to be abrasive to subordinates who disagree with him and to be petulant if he does not get his own way.

I have always felt that he has considerable ability and have also felt that nobody rates that ability quite as high as he does.

One must admit that the former Prime Minister has a discerning mind. Then he went on to say:

He has a reputation for aloofness which may perhaps stem from his unusual height-

He is a long way from you when he talks to you - but the most outstanding impression he gives is that of a man wilh no sense of humour and a lack of warmth in human relationships.

What a remark to make about a man he has put in the Ministry and, one would have thought, admired. What a come-down it must be for this great man to think that this has been laid at his door by his former leader. I understand it was feared at one time that the former Prime Minister might run right through the list of Cabinet personnel and it was thought he might have got to the Prime Minister. We on this side of the Parliament were waiting with bated breath for this instalment on the Prime

Minister. Had he written of the present Prime Minister I think this is what the right honourable member for Higgins would have said:

The Prime Minister is a man of considerable ability - charming in a strange kind of waydevious in political intrigue. A man devoted to physical fitness. He reveals extraordinary skill with the scalpel and the axe. He is also a man of great ambition but devoid of performance. 1 know he would have written something like that, probably a little harsher, but it might have run that way. However, he has been stopped. I have quoted from the comments. Surely the people of Australia are entitled to know whether the Prime Minister of the day - nobody knows who will be there tomorrow - supports these views. He has the responsibility to speak up for these men written about by the right honourable member for Higgins or say whether he endorses what the previous leader has said. How long can a country tolerate a government with a former Prime Minister sitting on the back bench undermining morale and plotting like MacArthur for his return to the corridors of power while the Prime Minister does nothing about it? Any Prime Minister who does not take action in regard to these matters should neither command nor will he command the respect of Australian people and should not be trusted with the Prime Ministership of this country. I am not reading what members of the Australian Labor Party say or what is said by the capitalist Press or the paper you can trust. They are the statements of the former Prime Minister about his own ministerial colleagues. The honourable member for Wentworth, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, was reported in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 11th August as saying that the Party at present did not have a leader who carried genera) conviction and was trusted by the majority. What a comment that is. The report continues:

There isn't someone who is a natural leader of men who is around mc with the necessary experience and technique.'

He went on to say: 'Cabinet leaks like a ruddy sieve now and this must break down the trust people in Cabinet had in each other.' He believed this, reflected a decline in the standard of honesty and decent behaviour.

This is out of the mouth of a man whom the former Prime Minister thought was good enough to be the Minister for Foreign Affairs of this country. The honourable member for Berowra is reported in the Daily Mirror' on 11th August as saying:

The Liberal Party would wreck itself if it tried to sack the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. Anyone who tries to move against Mr Gorton needs his head read. The Party is in a fragile position.

It has been like it for years as a matter of fact. It continues:

If anyone wants to wreck it this is the way to go about it.

Then in the 'Australian' on 12th August he was reported to have said:

The Liberal Party seems bent on an orgy ot self-destruction, If we don't stop all this soon we shall certainly find ourselves on the Opposition benches.

Then on 17th August in the 'Australian' the former Minister for the Navy, the honourable member for Moreton said:

The Liberal Party must put itself in control of its own affairs. If prejudice of affection or dislike is to be in control then the Party will limp towards disaster.

In the 'Daily Telegraph' on 11 th August he was reported to have said:

There are people today pretending they are fervent supporters of Mr McMahon. Look, you should have heard them three or four years ago when it was very hard to get any support for Mr McMahon. We could have held a meeting of them in a telephone box.

The 'Daily Telegraph' then went on to say:

He said he did not believe it was now up In Sir Frank Packer or anyone else to be picking whom should be Ministers in any government.

Even the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) came out of his hole, so to speak, and said he did not believe the Liberal Party could do without Mr Gorton. I do not think Mr Gorton thought so either. As reported in the 'Australian' on 12th August he said:

The Patty is in a fragile condition. If anybody wants to set out on an orgy of self-destruction let him do it.

What a tragic state of affairs for a government which has said it is running the country to be condemned all over the place by its own members and Ministers and yet seeking confidence.

The Liberal Party these days has gone into music and everything is done to melodies, I am told. For instance, the former Prime Minister writes his weekly life story under the title of a melody made famous by Frank Sinatra, '1 did it my way".

This opens up interesting possibilities as to how others will write their life stories. We might yet hear the honourable member lor Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who happens to be temporarily absent, writing his memoirs under the title of that lilting tune, T used to love you but it's all over now*. Even the honourable member for Berowra might come to light under the title 'Somebody else has taken my place'. Then the Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), would no doubt write under the title 'Has anybody here seen Kelly' or 'I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China'. No doubt the honourable member for Wentworth may ultimately come to light under the title What kind of fool am I'. The Prime Minister has already indicated his leanings when writing for the resignation of the former Minister for Defence. He said 'Dear John, you know how I hate to write'. He may of course finally decide that his memoirs would go better under the title Anything he can do I can do better'. In the turbulent days ahead for the Liberal Party its meetings might well conclude with the Party members rising and singing the chorus of 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' or maybe to paraphrase the words of a famous tune, 'Faction Fights are Breaking up that Old Gang of Mine'.

Mr Deputy Speaker,we notice these things and they do show that there is a certain amount of disunity on the other side of the Parliament. If I might coin a phrase, I am sorry for this once great Party. I am sorry to see it split asunder, riddled with dissension and these things happening. My distinguished friend, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), a man of considerable ability and achievement, was opposed by the long talking but rather quiet member for Darling Downs (Mr Swartz) for the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. Supporters of Mr Swartz are pushing the line that the Party needs a quiet, loyal uncontroversial man like him to help rebuild unity for the next elections. It was not that he had done too much. It was that he had not done anything. That was what appealed to most of the members of the Liberal Party. The Treasurer survived the ballot, but disunity has carried through to the very final episode of this great crusade that was started by certain members of the Liberal Party to cleanse and remove the former Prime Minister.

Even at this moment members of the Liberal Party are threatened with losing their preselection. We read headlines such as 'Liberals may drop Hughes and Bates' and 'Twenty-one Liberals resign'. Here we rind in the Parliament a Budget brought down at the time of greatest crisis in this country by a Government which is merely hanging together, with 31 changes in the Ministry, riddled with dissension and hatreds, members disappearing and hiding from each other and yet claiming to have the confidence of the Australian people. The Government deserves to be condemned. It is a government of bits and pieces. Members of the Government Parties have no place on the Treasury bench of this Parliament. Therefore I support enthusiastically the resolution moved to condemn the Budget. I hope that this amendment is carried, and then we will have a new government prepared to give unity, solidarity, statesmanship and leadership to the Australian people.







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