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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2638


Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - Mr Acting Speaker,during the course of the last few hours we have witnessed the departure of our Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on a little jaunt overseas. No doubt he is floating around in mid-air tonight, and he has left behind him an economy in a similar situation. During the course of the last week, because of the announced unemployment figures, I directed a telegram to the right honourable absent gentleman - absent in thought and absent in mind - concerning the intolerable situation that his Government has brought about in this country. I remind him that since his short time as Prime Minister the number of people on the dole in Australia has increased by SO per cent. Of course, he never had the courtesy to answer the telegram that I directed to him. Mr Acting Speaker, I wish that at some time you would tune in to these honourable members on my left who are interjecting - and I understand that you have some association with the particular Party which they represent - and pull them into gear. They should not be so cheeky. After all, in 1969 they received less than 8 per cent of the total votes cast across the Commonwealth. They have a hell of a lot to say in here, when such a small percentage of people voted for them.

However, the Prime Minister is absent from this chamber tonight, and he has left behind him a most deplorable situation in this country. From what one hears when moving around one's own electorate and beyond at this point of time, I do not think that there has been less confidence in the community generally than there is at the present time. Of course, the Prime Minister, as a result of action taken by his Government since it has been in office and indeed by the Cabinet before the one which we now see sitting on the front bench, has increased interest rates to a figure that has placed an intolerable burden on the average wage and salary earner and on the average young person in the community, and probably has placed the acquisition of their own homes far beyond the reach of these people.

Recently we heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), the injured right wing of the Liberal Party - he is not in the chamber at the moment, or at least I cannot see him - criticising a recent wage decision made in favour of some section of the building industry. He immediately flew off into print and said - he also stated it on television - that increased costs will flow to home owners as a result of the wage increase. Of course, he has forgotten completely that far greater increases have been inflicted on this particular sector of the building industry - on cottage and home building - through the imposition, by his Government, of increased interest rates in March of last year and again in the budgetary proposals this year.

The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has been overseas in connection with the Australian economy. He has been back in Australia for a week now. He came back to Australia, put his foot up on the nearest bar he could find and said that the economy was not crook. He said that everything else was crook but not the economy and that we should talk about instilling confidence in the economy by saying that it was not crook. The Parliament has been sitting since yesterday afternoon but the Treasurer has not uttered one word concerning what he intends to do about the economy. Honourable members should be concerned with the intolerable situation that exists at present. The unemployment figure will exceed 100,000 by this Christmas. The situation is more intolerable when one realises that a far greater number of people are involved, despite the clap-trap we heard in this chamber yesterday about seasonal figures. If the figures concerning wage and salary earners were related to the fact that the great percentage of them are married, it would be realised that 300,000 to 400,000 men, women and children will be on the dole within the new few months, yet the Government refuses to do anything about it.

AH manner of measures are introduced into this chamber. If a rural industry is in trouble - I do not say this critically - members opposite rush to its aid. No Government supporter, certainly not the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is now lounging back in his seat and wearing a pale pink tie, has suggested increasing the amount of weekly payment to those men, women and children who will be out of work and idle as a result of the Government's inattention, inactivity and almost stupidity. Has the Government given any consideration to the high rates of interest that these people must pay on their mortagages? Certainly not! The Government should show the same consideration for these people as it shows tor other sections of the community. The Minister for Social Services has held his protfolio for some considerable time. He gains some free publicity in the Press by paying lip service to some proposals. He has suggested that there should be a national superannuation scheme. He has made some criticism of his Government from time to time and of its attitude to his own Department. If he has the courage of his convictions why does he not move in this House to correct the ills of which he accuses his Government? He is not sincere or he would do this. He has no sincerity in this regard. He is, of course, following the line that his colleagues have followed for so many years in respect of almost every aspect of policy that I have ever mentioned. They pay sufficient lip service to such proposals as to con sufficient people to return them to office.

This fetches me to the question of assistance to the wool industry. This afternoon I had something to say on this topic and when I sought leave to make a personal explanation I thought that you, Mr Acting Speaker, were a bit rough on me in that you never let me get really off the ground. During the course of the debate on the legislation to provide assistance to the wool industry Opposition members wanted to know whether specific provision was made whereby the wool growers would benefit from that legislation without any tags attached. This afternoon a question was asked by an honourable member who is, unfortunately, not present at the moment.


Mr Giles - You drive them all out.


Mr FOSTER - I shall not take umbrage at that interjection. The honourable member is present, but 1 did not see him. He asked a question that members of the Opposition have asked, but not one member of the Government has had the guts or courage to get up and say that we have been wrong in what we have suggested. If we were wrong, members opposite should tell us so. Why do members opposite not refute the statements that appeared this morning in a Western Australian newspaper in a letter from a Mr Pedlow of Claremont who headed it 'Government "hypocrisy" on wool aid'? Honourable members opposite have read it; they have been trooping into the Library today to see it. There has not been one Government supporter who has not gone to one of the Library staff and taken more than one copy of this letter to the editor.


Mr Daly - That is right.


Mr FOSTER - Thanks, Fred.


Mr Giles - Wait for the echo.


Mr FOSTER - The honourable member for Angas would not know what he is talking about. In a television debate the other night in Adelaide he referred to an Indonesian sitting outside the front of this House fasting. The honourable member did not know and did not concern himself to find out that the person to whom he was referring is an Australian citizen. He did not have the courtesy and decency to say so, if he did know it. What I wanted to say was that this letter to the editor is almost word for word with what appeared in the Hansard record of what was said on this side of the House.

I turn now to the proposed payment by the Government of $600,000 to Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd. Let me wind up this note. You, Mr Acting Speaker, along with many Government supporters, have stood in this House and passed legislation from time to time. You have sent security police into trade union offices, thieving the trade union office books and looking at them. If honourable members want positive proof of what was said on this side of the House in regard to the number of sheep which Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd run and the cop which the company is going to get from the taxpayers I suggest that they obtain that company's books and present them to the House. They might then have some chance of convincing us that what we say is wrong. So far as my colleagues and I are concerned, until that is done honourable members opposite have passed a measure merely to benefit Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd, British Tobacco Co (Aust.) Ltd and all the barons across the length and breadth of this country who have been exploiting wool growers. We cannot place reliance on the suggestion of honourable members opposite that growers can benefit without going through the burghers and barons, unless they are prepared to stand up and be counted on the issue. Thank you for listening.







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