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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2682


Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) - I wish to refer to the very significant event that took place in Sydney last Saturday, the opening of the Opera House. I indicate briefly that I heartily support the remarks that have been made already by my colleague, the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), regarding the way in which that significant event, not only for Sydney and New South Wales but for the whole of Australia, was marred to some extent by the introduction of petty party politics into the whole affair. Other people have mentioned this matter to me and I do not doubt that some of them are not of my own political persuasion. They noted the studied failure to acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia at that function; the fact that he was not even asked to appear on the official dais with Her Majesty, the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier's entourage. We will never know the embarrassment that this must have caused to Her Majesty.

The petty politics went so far that there was not even an acknowledgment of the man who had the great foresight to initiate this wonderful project, of which we all feel so proud now. 1 refer to the late Honourable Joe Cahill, a former Premier of New South Wales. He had to fight, not only outside his own Party but also within his own Party, to get that project going. He received no acknowledgment whatsoever last Saturday. No recognition was accorded to our international visitors or, indeed, to our distinguished interstate visitors who were present at that function. I refer to State Premiers and others. The Australian Government was no mean co-operator in the staging of that wonderful event last Saturday. The taxpayers, with the Australian Government's sanction, provided for the flyover by the Fill aircraft and the appearance of the Army and Navy bands. The Commonwealth car fleet was made fully available for use on that occasion. The Australian Government also provided television facilities for the international coverage of the event. That coverage, I would say, drew great attention to Australia. I understand that the Australian Government may even have supplied the fireworks that were used in the course of the function.

It is significant that this function took place a day or two after the Premier of New South Wales announced that a State election would be held in some 4 weeks time. This is an example of democracy at work under liberalism. In some areas, to my knowledge, the Liberal Party has not even selected its candidates - and these are candidates not for blue ribbon State seats either. This illustrates the kind of election campaign and the kind of discussion that we are to have about the great issues that will affect New South Wales, the senior Australian State, in . the next 3 years. They will all be dealt with in a matter of 3 weeks. One might ask: Why the rush? I suggest that the uncollected garbage - that was an unfortunate event, and there were other people involved in that event of which I did not approve - was not the only source of unsavoury odours in Macquarie Street, Sydney, last Saturday. I suggest that the political pollution that surrounds the Administration in Macquarie Street was just as unsavoury.

In recent weeks I have spoken to some senior police officers about the incidence of crime and the cover-up of crime that is going on under the present Askin Administration in New South Wales. It is significant that only a few weeks ago the pressure from the public media became so hot that Sir Robert Askin handed over his ministerial responsibility for the police force to another Minister. Also, it is no coincidence that the Minister for Environment Control, Mr Beale, was sacked from that office because of his ineptitude in looking after conservation matters as they affect the welfare of the New South Wales people. I mention the suspected sell-out to various mining companies. We all remember the great Clutha scandal. That project, if carried out, would have resulted in the pollution of some of the most beautiful areas of the south coast of New South Wales. I remind honourable members of the Myall Lakes controversy and other matters of that type. These are all typical of the recent actions of the New South Wales Government.

Honourable members will recall the great financial scandal of the notorious Barton affair and the cover-up which is still going on in respect of that matter. There is also the coverup of those behind the pyramid selling companies in which people in New South Wales have invested in good faith. Those behind these companies have left Australia, and investors find that their money has gone and they have no chance of recovering it. At least action in this respect has been taken in South Australia. The other day, the Australian Broadcasting Commission in a news item referred to the fact that legislation was to be introduced to cover this sort of practice. A person rang me to ask whether it was the New South Wales Government which was taking this action. I made inquiries and found out that it was not. Sure, it was not. The South Australian Government was taking action. Even the Victorian Government has introduced legislation in relation to pyramid selling, but not the New South Wales Government. It would be the last government to do so.

I refer to the fight which the counterparts of the New South Wales Government in this Parliament are putting up to prevent the passage of our trade practices legislation which will give enormous protection to the consumers of this country. My God, don't they need it! The Trade Practices Bill to provide consumer protection was introduced in the Senate weeks ago. This Government is not in control of the Senate, and yesterday that chamber blocked the passage and even prevented discussion of that Bill. This is the kind of protection that these people are giving to others. Today, this Government must introduce the Trade Practices Bill in this House so that we can at least debate it and expose to the people the kinds of corruption and protection of vested interests, which are exploiting our community, being carried out by the Liberal Party and the Country Party, whether in the New South Wales Parliament or in this Parliament.

I direct the attention of honourable members to the 'Australian' of 20 October which headlined an article relating to the New South Wales State election: 'Government has no time to pass promised legislation'. The article referred to the legislation that was announced by the New South Wales Governor when opening the session of the New South Wales Parliament which commenced in August last. No time will be available to pass much of that legislation. Yet the N<;w South Wales Government requires the N.w South Wales Parliament to sit for only a few weeks in each year. Let me enumerate some of the promised legislation which that Parliament has not had time to pass. I remind the House that these are promised actions and not the many things which need to be done in that State. The State Government did not introduce laws to control noise pollution, as it had promised. It did not introduce legislation to reform the laws of defamation. It did not introduce legislation to impose stricter regulations on the sale of second hand cars. All sorts of other spheres are involved in that matter. It did not establish the office of an ombudsman to investigate complaints against the Public Service, although Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia have already appointed ombudsmen for this purpose.

The New South Wales Government did not introduce legislation to amend the law in relation to legal aid, as it had promised. Yet we hear talk about equal justice. What justice is there in the community when persons seeking justice cannot afford it and when a State government resists providing from the public purse assistance to those who seek justice but cannot afford it. The list goes on. Some promises go back 3 years; others were made 6 years ago. But still nothing has been done by the Government of New South Wales to honour those promises. That Government promised also to give protection to people who are sent unsolicited goods or fake invoices. All of these actions were promised by the New South Wales Governor in his speech opening the New South Wales Parliament last August. This is what the New South Wales Government was going to do, belatedly, before the next State election. But no, this action has not taken place. I could continue through a whole series of broken promises. I could go into many other fields. But I have not the time to do so. Talk about grievances! I have here grievances a foot long.

I refer now to the matter mentioned by the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) here today in relation to the report of the Consumer Affairs Bureau which was tabled in the New South Wales Parliament last week. An article in the 'Australian* of 20 October refers to that report. That article states:

Far too high a proportion of complaints falls ultimately into the "situation clarified" category', the report says. This category encompasses the many instances where companies invoke the letter of the legal advantage which they so often enjoy in relation to the consumer and where the doctrine of caveat emptor (let the buy.er beware) is loaded so heavily in their favour.

In all too many cases the elaborate and plausible explanations offered by companies, both large and small, show scant regard for what would be fair and reasonable in the circumstances. It can be argued that, in some respects at least, the level of moral responsibility displayed by some such companies is lower than that of the trader who sets out with the deliberate intention of defrauding the consumer'.

The article states further:

This highlights the bureau's lack of real power.

The Labor Opposition under the leadership of Pat Hills made a firm promise a week ago that it would set up a department of consumer protection in New South Wales. The next day Askin said 'Me too' after he has had the opportunity to do so for years.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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