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Thursday, 15 March 1973
Page: 668


Mr BOURCHIER (Bendigo) - Before talking on the subject 1 wish to deal with tonight I would like to refer to the remarks made by speakers on the Government side, firstly in relation to what was said by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) about the AEWL. I believe that it is significantly influenced by overseas shipping interests, which include container groups which are dedicated to the centralisation of transport. It seems very strange to me that the Minister for Labour is so unwilling to countermand a decision by overseas interests. Also 1 wish to refer to the remarks of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) who talked about jobs for the boys. I draw his attention to one Senator Armstrong, who for some miserable pittance was appointed High Commissioner to London. I think we know also of a number of other cases of former members of this place being appointed to jobs in which they are far better financially rewarded than they were when they were members of Parliament.

The subject on which 1 wish to speak tonight is the Labor Party's promises at the last election. I want to point out to the House how those promises are not turning out at the moment. The first promise I refer to concerns the Social Services Bill which was passed recently by this House. I refer to that section of the Bill which provides an increase in the unemployment benefit paid to young people between 16 and 21 years of age. The Government made a great point of mentioning that these junior people would be entitled to unemployment benefits if jobs were not suitable to their peculiar or particular vocation. I would draw the attention of the Minister for Labour, who is not in the chamber at the moment, to a comment he made in the 'West Australian' on 23rd November 1972 when he said that the Labor Party would introduce extensive retraining schemes for school leavers who could not find jobs. He went on to say that unemployment benefits would be suspended for those who refused to take part in such schemes. This seems to be a contradiction of the apparent policy that we heard propounded during the debate on the Social Services Bill.

The Minister for Labour made another statement in which he said that the Labor Party would implement the recommendation that centres nominated for accelerated development would be recognised for telephone charging purposes as extensions to the metropolitan areas whereby rentals would be equated and calls between these places and the capitals charged as local calls. In view of the long tirade we have had from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) on the extreme loss factor of the Post Office and the enormous cost of putting one telephone somewhere in the country, it is hard to relate how the Labor Party will carry out its promise to the electors and cut its Post Office costs by introducing telephone facilities in country areas at the same rate as applies in metropolitan areas. I certainly would like to see this done as Bendigo is one of the areas that has been selected by the Victorian Government at least for accelerated development. A common rate for telephone calls would be a marvellous thing for decentralisation. This proposition is contained in one of the platforms of the Labor Party. The Party keeps saying that it will carry out this promise. But the Postmaster-General has indicated that he cannot possibly see how this can be done. I do not think we will see it happen. 1 turn now to the business of transport. Here we see some interesting things. The Labor Party made a promise that it would make grants to urban public transport authorities - I stress the word 'public' - on condition that they provide free off-peak travel. This subsidy was to be paid at the rate of $3 per annum per head of population in the 6 State capitals and in provincial centres which provide public transport. This promise was just another gimmick to get the voters in. Very few, if any, provincial centres have public transport; they now have private transport. I cannot see this Government providing private transport with any subsidy whatsoever. If it does, it will certainly be doing something positive for decentralisation. This Government is centralising, not decentralising. It has no intention of doing anything about decentralisation. Further proof that this is so is found in the promise that the Department of Transport will undertake a S276m program to improve public transport in Melbourne. The program has been outlined by the Victorian State Government to the Federal Bureau of Transport Economics. The Government has also promised to carry out a S324m program to improve Sydney's public transport system. What about decentralisation? What about spending a few of those millions of dollars in the country areas to encourage industries to establish themselves there. The Government should do something positive for Australia instead of airing a lot of unnecessary words which will not bring it credit when the next election is held.


Mr Scholes - We will win Bendigo back.


Mr BOURCHIER - You have no hope of winning Bendigo.


Mr Daly - Keep politics out of it.


Mr BOURCHIER - At least I do not have to get my instructions from a member of a union, as some of the honourable members on the other side of the House do. During the election campaign we made promises about decentralisation which we would have kept. But this Government has no intention whatsoever of encouraging any form of decentralisation. The points that I have made in respect of transport and telephone services prove that the actions of this Government will retard decentralisation. When its present term of office expires, the Government will find that the people of Australia, particularly the people of Victoria, will remove it from office because it will not have kept a fraction of the promises that the Labor Party put forward in the election campaign.







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