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Thursday, 15 March 1973
Page: 617


Mr CORBETT (Maranoa) - Before going on to speak on a couple of subjects I have in mind I want to comment on the Country Party's attitude to revaluation. Any person with any understanding at all of what revaluation or devaluation means must know that devaluation assists exporters and revaluation is against their interests, lt is as simple as that and I will not waste any more time on that subject. Prices are high for products for which there is a demand. Prices fluctuate according to the demand for the product, with or without devaluation or revaluation.

Today I want to make a plea for a broader national outlook with an earnest desire to promote the welfare of all and attention to the social needs of all Australians. I make a plea for consideration for minority groups where the need is fully demonstrated. I believe that any party that advocates one vote one value should also be prepared to provide equal opportunity for all people to receive, for example, the benefits of television, and at least the benefits of telephonic communication. A suggestion has been made that telephones should be installed only in situations where it would be economically sound. I remind honourable members of the situation at places like Birdsville, where the lives of people could have been saved had a telephone been available there. In the circumstances, the radio telephone available there was not very satisfactory. One of the most expensive areas in which to establish telephonic communication would be from Boulia to Birdsville. A proposal was initiated by the previous Government to install a telephone line there and I would like to know whether the present Government is not going ahead with this proposal simply because it may not be economic in its operations.

From a tourist point of view such a telephone line would have great advantages as the area is one of the prime tourist attractions of this country. Surely the welfare of a community requires such amenities and necessities and their provision should not be based upon economics alone. I would like to know why there is discrimination. It is not true to say that the urban population always provides some assistance for the rural population while the reverse is not the case. In fact, the reverse is the case. As proof of that I wish to quote from one of today's newspapers which carries an article about transport systems. It states:

An Australian transport expert believes that Federal and State governments will need to spend at least $ 1,000m by 1977-78 on the nation's public transport systems to avert a 'very serious' situation.

In my home State of Queensland a great share of the loss on transport was recorded by the metropolitan railways. I appreciate that those railways come within the State sphere of administration but I want to appeal for a broad national outlook, as I said at the beginning of my speech. I would like to see items of government expenditure weighed against the advantages from a national point of view. No amount of criticism, ridicule or anything else will prevent me, and I hope I speak for all members of my Party, from continuing to put that point of view. I return to the article from which I quoted a little earlier. It went on:

Later in his talk Mr Clark discussed the prospect of a 'likely' Federal grant of $ 1,500m for urban transport in the next 5 years.

While people in urban areas will be paying their share, so will the whole community. That is the point we want to make. The article continued:

.   . about $ 1,000m for urban roads and $5()0m for capital improvements for public transport.

In addition, the States 'must find' at least another $500m to meet operational deficits of the urban public transport system.

So it is not true to say that any time government expenditure is provided there is a subsidy from the urban areas to the rural areas. Even if in the national interest expenditure was provided in this manner I hope this would be the criteria on which such finance would be provided. The article went on to state:

Operating losses on urban railway systems will be the largest single item in the total of financial contributions from governments to urban public transport systems during the five years,' . . .

Surely this indicates that we can deal on a quid pro quo basis in these matters of urban versus rural expenditures and receipts. Surely our outlook should be broad enough for us to provide some sort of benefits to people in outlying areas or people who belong to a minority group without having to weigh up and put into a completely watertight compartment the decision whether the provision of finance is economic. I hope that the Government will give greater consideration to the social needs of the community and not just weigh them totally and wholly on economics.

We heard quite recently from the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who I am glad is at the table at the moment even though he is not taking any notice of what is going on in the Parliament so far as I can see. The Minister is engaged in another conversation.


Mr Collard - He is talking to a member of your Party.


Mr CORBETT - That is not my business. The Minister has a job to do, but I think he ought to listen to what J am saying. The Minister has claimed that the Labor Party represents more rural or country electorates than any party in this Parliament. I would like to know what the Government is achieving for country people. An article in one of today's newspapers was headed: 'ALP Caucus Blow-up'. The sub-heading of the article was: Battle over farm subsidy'. So the largest country party in the Parliament has been able to achieve nothing. I would hope that those Labor Party representatives of country electorates, who have been unable to achieve anything in the Labor Party, might join the Country Party. I believe that the support given to the Labor Party in the last election by people from country areas has been wasted. Supporters of the Labor Party have, according to the Press report, had a battle in caucus. Even with the assistance of some members who were disgruntled with the attitude of the Ministry those members who represent country areas could not get a majority in Caucus. One cannot say that about the Australian Country Party. We do not have that problem at all.

Even the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) is reported as having been against the interests of rural people - against the group in Caucus which tried to get a better deal for rural industry. Members of the Labor Party are bound by decisions of Caucus and therefore those members representing rural areas are handicapped in their efforts to help country people. They would do better in the Country Party. The Press have called them - I think this is a bit unfair - the rural rump.

There has been little support from the Government for the campaign that we have been waging to try to get more country telephones. Do not give me the answer that this is something that the previous Government should have done. The provision of country telephone services is a continuing thing. The previous Government was doing just this. What we are asking for is a continuation at least of this service to meet the needs of people in country areas.

There has been very little support for the preservation of the kangaroo industry in rural areas. Some people know that it is absurd to try to put a ban on the export of Kangaroo products. In fact some 600,000 to 700,000 kangaroos have been processed in Queensland alone and there are still large numbers in that State. Experts have proved, by an examination of this problem, that the kangaroo numbers can continue more or less indefinitely. We have just heard a speech about devaluation compensation. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro said that devaluation did not cause any disadvantage to those people who live in the rural areas of Australia. The Queensland Grain Growers Council is putting up a very strong case in my State for revaluation compensation for grain industries.

Finally, I appeal for a reasonable approach to the problems that I have mentioned. I hope that the Government will promote national development as well as and together with urban and regional development and will give a high priority to social needs rather than introduce purely economic measures.







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