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Wednesday, 2 October 1974
Page: 1594

Senator TOWNLEY (Tasmania) -Today in this Budget debate I shall deal with 3 basic things which are of importance to my State of Tasmania, which I could term as the State most neglected by this Government. Over the last few weeks we have seen a neglect of Tasmania by the Government in things like the 25 per cent increase in the Australian National Line shipping costs. We have seen neglect in Tasmania of the textile industry. Generally in the Budget Tasmania hardly gets a mention. Certainly I do not think it gets the special treatment which an island State requires these days. In a Budget which sees the arts get an additional $6m, which is an increase of some 40-odd per cent, practically no attention is given to Tasmania. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) talks about subsidising freight rates only when he is forced to do that. But before dealing with the 3 topics on which I want to touch I mention briefly 3 words which this Government has managed to make dirty. It has managed to make defence a dirty word. It has downgraded that most important aspect of our government responsibility. The amount of $ 1,300-odd million which is to be spent on defence is a decrease when we consider the increase by inflation-

Senator Cavanagh - It is priority.

Senator TOWNLEY - It is a decrease in the amount if we allow for inflation.

Senator Cavanagh - It is not a dirty word. It is a question of priorities.

Senator TOWNLEY - In many ways this Government has made defence a dirty word. Yesterday Senator Hall put it very well when he said that this wretched Government was deliberately ruining our defence capability. We are told by Mr Barnard's crystal ball that for 15 years we will not need defence. What we will have left after 15 years, if defence is allowed to fall away, will be a position where we cannot defend ourselves. We could easily be overrun. In my opinion Mr Barnard is not exerting his authority. I was going to say 'his strength', but certainly that would not be the word to define our ex-Deputy Prime Minister.

Another word which this Government has made dirty is profit. This country has been built on the profit of private endeavour. I shall say more about that in a moment or two. I will point out also what I feel some members of the Government and others are trying to do to the country. The next dirty word is multi-nationals. When the Australian Labor Party wants to blame someone, quite often out comes that third dirty word. But what about the multi-unions? We see communist and left wing controlled unions asking their union representatives in this place to get the Senate to approve the amalgamations of unions. They claim that it would stop demarcation disputes. Theoretically there may be some merit in legislation which is designed to encourage single unions for each industry, for ease of administration, although the great centralisation of power would negate any benefits. The honourable senators say that there are too many unions in Australia. They say that this gives rise to demarcation disputes and that there would be fewer of these demarcation disputes if there were fewer unions.

The fallacy of this argument can be illustrated by the fact that there have been numerous demarcation disputes within the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union which have led to industrial dislocation and standdowns since the amalgamation of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia and the Sheet Metal Workers Union into the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. One of the worst demarcation cases that we have had in Tasmania 's history occurred last year. It was a demarcation dispute at Renison Bell which is the biggest tin production area in Australia. It resulted in a considerable loss of income to the workers at Renison Bell.

Senator Mulvihill - What were the classifications in that demarcation dispute?

Senator TOWNLEY - I can tell the honourable senator, to emphasise this point, that the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union sent a telegram to the Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 4 May. It said bluntly that this was a demarcation dispute.

Senator Mulvihill - With whom?

Senator TOWNLEY -It involved people within the same union at Renison Bell.

Senator Cavanagh - How could it be a demarcation dispute with only one union?

Senator TOWNLEY -This is what was happening.

Senator Cavanagh - It was not. It was between 2 unions.

Senator TOWNLEY - It was within one union. Otherwise why would that union send a telegram saying that it was a demarcation dispute? You cannot convince any Tasmanians that amalgamations will stop demarcation disputes because we know from bitter experience that they will not. I do not think that these moves for amalgamation can be disconnected from the decision of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that unions charge their members 1 per cent of average weekly earnings. The AMWU has a membership of about 1 80,000. With fees of 1 per cent of average weekly earnings the annual income of that union is about $ 11.5m. That is about one-quarter of what the Tasmanian Government gets in taxation. If that amount is multiplied by the number of members that the union would be able to dragoon into its midst if allowed to do what it wants to do the enormous centralisation of power and money which could result is clear. The funds would be under the effective control of some self-confessed members of the various communist parties. I have in mind people such as Carmichael and Halfpenny or others of the the extreme socialist left forces. These people are committed to a foreign ideology and the principle that might is right without regard to others in the community. It is not the multi-national companies that we need to worry about in Australia as much as it is the multi-unions.

I have been sidetracked by the Government's way of making certain words dirty but I say that the real dirty words in Australia now are socialism, inflation and taxation. The first of the 3 areas of the Budget with which I want to deal is housing, which is so very important to the young people of this country. As one of the youngest senators I will put a few points to the Government and any people who may be listening today. The second area relates to aviation costs to Tasmania and how there should be special fares for Tasmania. For the third point I want to say a little about what I consider is a cleverly connived collapse of our country.

One cannot live on hope alone or live without it. Houses are not merely refuges from storms and tempests or places for rest and renewal. They are places where young married people are able to mould their lives along the paths of their own choice; they are places where they can mould the lives of their young children and where the love within a family can develop without the hindrance of pressures that intrude unless people have their own homes. Today I am talking mainly from the point of view of the hopes of our young people, married already, about to be married or at an age when marriage is just around the corner, even if they have not yet realised it. I say to these people that their chances of ever being able to afford a home of their own while this Government pursues the policies it is obviously prepared to pursue and which are quite obviously government policies are very slim indeed. I do not believe that this Government is interested in people having their own homes. They are against private ownership of any kind and they would like to see all houses owned by the state. Then the young people particularly would be forced to become tenants of the state.

Senator Gietzelthas told us of the increased provision in the Budget for housing. Under the 1973 housing agreement welfare housing this year will increase by 7 per cent at a time when we are suffering from inflation of over 20 per cent. The Government is setting up the Australian Housing Corporation, a new body to start all those housing functions that the Australian Government has constitutional power to implement. This will include direct lending to families for housing. So we see that almost half the small increase in housing expenditure will go to the new corporation at a time when the building industry is in a crunch situation. We will see the growth of another bureaucratic part of the government and an unnecessary addition to the steps towards further socialisation of this country. This Government has a deliberate policy of giving very little help for housing. I hope that the next government will come to immediate grips with the housing problem. My feeling is that every person should have a house in which to live. Every young person facing the prospect of marriage has a right to a home. Every honourable senator must be aware of the massive shortage of houses and places to live already existing before the real effect of the shortage has hit this country. Any senator who can go to his or her home State without being confronted with housing problems is very lucky indeed.

One point that I feel should be made very clear to the people of Australia is that the lack of housing is not a temporary situation. People who have just reached voting age and intend to marry within the next three to five years may as well realise fully that in just 20 months in office this Government has reduced a relatively stable industry to its knees. Now that people cannot afford a house the Government has started the Housing Corporation so that it will build the houses and people will never be able to own a home of their own. Canberra has become a city full of dreams but those dreams do not allow for young people to own their own houses.

The recent Budget has certainly been used as a political instrument that offers no hope to those people who do not yet have a house. Please get it clear that this is not a temporary measure. Do not think that in a few months it will be all right. I repeat that this Government does not want people to own their own homes. It wants to own the lot. I have not been referring to big flash houses. I have no intention of wasting the time of the Senate by talking about the problems of people other than those who are in need. I am concerned only with those people whose problem is of need, not of choice. I suppose that later in the debate a Government senator will jump up and produce a spate of figures to show just how much the Government is doing for housing. Those figures will be so much hogwash. The building industry is ruined at a time when more and more people need houses. They want to get away from their in-laws. They want peace and privacy in their own homes in the Australian tradition. The figures that the Government should be presenting do not relate to the number of houses that have been built but to the number that have not. Once upon a time films used to end with the hero and heroine marrying, settling down and living happily ever after.

Senator Grimes - Don't make me cry.

Senator TOWNLEY - I would be glad to make Senator Grimes cry because I do not think he has much pity for the young people of this country who do not have their own nouses. He should look into the position one day and see just what a hole the Government he supports has put them in. In the old days films would end as I have said but that is not to be the way for many Australians, the purpose of whose lives is being frustrated. Many must be filled with hopelessness and misery. The simple reason is that this Government wants to restructure society. It wants to restructure it all right. As Mr Hawke says, it wants democratic socialism. That might be a nice sounding phrase but it is a dangerous idea put out by one of the dangerous men of Australia. Mr Hawke says that we can vote on the way we want things run. How can he get us to believe that would work when a lot of the unions do not even elect their officers by a secret ballot?

Another of the Labor Party's dangerous men, in my opinion, is Dr Jim Cairns. He has done a great con job on the community. All of a sudden he is acceptable to some of the business community. How they can be so gullible as to trust him I do not know. Do they remember his past actions? Do they not know that he is only putting on a front? Do they not realise that he will help to destroy the community as soon as he possibly can? What is wrong with the business leaders? I reckon they are crazy to think that Dr Cairns will not continue on the path to socialism as quickly as possible. The more businesses that go broke and are forced out of existence the better that this mob that is in Government will like it.

Senator Mulvihill - That word 'mob' is not very edifying.

Senator TOWNLEY - It is well chosen. I come back to housing. Many reasons are given for the shortage, but basically it is a lack of reasonable cost finance. Do not let anyone kid himself that the Government could not get interest rates down if it wanted to do so. Do not let anyone kid himself either that making housing interest tax deductable would help much. It would be much better to have 5 per cent interest with no deductions than it would be to have 1 1 per cent and some deductions which effectively lower the interest rate to, say, 8 per cent. Young people, many of whom voted for this Government, have been gypped and short changed by those whom they helped elect. I am continually getting letters about this matter. Many of the people who write admit that last time they voted for Labor. I am afraid that I am not able to offer them much hope as far as housing is concerned.

Other speakers in this debate have mentioned the property tax. It is on again, off again. I do not know whether we are really sure that it is on again, but all it will do is add to the inflation of housing rents. Housing will then be in the double squeeze with shortages adding to increased rents, and landlords will have to make allowance for the 10 per cent tax on property. So that impost will put up rents also. This Government has done nothing for the young people of Australia with regard to housing. The building of homes should take absolute priority. The housing of people of all ages adequately should receive the active support of everyone in this chamber. Never let this matter be called a problem, particularly when referring to housing for the aged.

The fact that our parents live for many years longer than used to be the case is surely not a problem, but something for which we should be thankful. Some fortunate older people are able to look after themselves. Some are able to find accommodation with their children. But an ever growing number of old people cannot for various reasons live with their children and cannot provide for themselves. We must continue to expand the facilities that are available to this group. During their ordinary lives this group has paid taxation and has done a great deal towards the development of this nation. Now is the time that we can repay them- in their twilight years. I cannot believe that it is impossible to build the houses that we need in this country. All it needs is a government with the will to do it. Then needs of our young people could hope that one day they will be able to own their house.

The only practical way for people to travel to and from Tasmania is by air, and each time that air fares are allowed to increase, fewer and fewer people are able to travel and to visit friends oh this larger island. Fewer people are able to travel to Tasmania during their holidays to enjoy the benefits found in ourwonderful State. Perhaps Senator Grimes might even agree with me on that. I feel that Tasmania should be a tourist State. I have always contended that Tasmania should attempt to obtain a great part of its income from tourism. I have spoken on this topic previously. This Government seems to have a crazy outlook on how, where and by whom civil aviation should be used. I read recently in a magazine that 'Australia could not live without Qantas but it could live without Mr Jones.' He is our Minister for Transport who recently put up by 25 per cent the freight rates on goods carried by the Australian National Line to Tasmania. He is a Minister of the Government which is putting up the charges to the civil aviation industry. I do not intend to talk about Qantas Airways Ltd. I will restrict myself to the local airlines because they more directly affect Tasmania. One day soon I will have a go about Qantas, because civil aviation is a topic in which I have a great deal of interest.

Mr Jonesand his Department of Transport decided to increase all the charges to civil aviation. Of course these will eventually be reflected in increased air fares. The fares to and from Tasmania are already becoming prohibitive for many Tasmanians. I feel that the Government should be considering the total effect on civil aviation and the people who travel with the airlines. The Government should remember the dollars that it gets from the tax on the profits of restaurants, hotels and motels, from the people who work in this type of place and from those who are associated with the travel industry. Civil aviation in Australia should not be looked at in isolation. The Government should consider the overall effect, particularly on Tasmania, because Tasmania is so dependent on air transport. As an example of how important aviation is and can be to one place, one need look only at Hawaii. I do not choose Hawaii because I think that it is a perfect place, but purely because it is an isolated place. Hawaii is dependent, as is Tasmania, to a certain extent on air transport, and without the airlines people in Hawaii would go broke. The people of Hawaii know that that is the situation. But what have they done? I believe that the cost of landing a Boeing 747 in Hawaii is US$ 1 50. To land the same aircraft at Sydney costs US$4,000. If that Jumbo had 400 people aboard, that would be US$10 each to land that aircraft at Sydney.

Senator Wriedt - Do you put up the cost of your chemicals that you sell in your shops when you see fit?

Senator TOWNLEY - I very rarely use this chamber as a means of advertising, but I will say our prices are some of the lowest in Australia.

Senator Wriedt - But do you put them up?

Senator McAuliffe - Answer the question.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! Senator Townley is not here to be asked questions by other honourable senators. Proceed with your speech.

Senator TOWNLEY -Mr Acting Deputy President, I have been asked a question. I would like to answer it. Our prices are put up much later and by much less than prices are put up by anyone else. If Senator Wriedt visits Hobart when he has a spare moment I will show him just how low they are.

Senator McAuliffe - What, the city is?

Senator TOWNLEY -That is a Labor senator saying how low the city of Hobart is.

Senator McAuliffe - That is what you say.

Senator TOWNLEY -That is the attitude which these people in the Government have about all Tasmania. They could not care less about Tasmania.

Senator McAuliffe - Mr Acting Deputy President,I wish to raise a point of order. I have been misrepresented by Senator Townley. The honourable senator is trying to imply that I referred to Hobart as a low city. I asked the honourable senator the question by way of interjection because I did not understand the point that he was making about the word 'low' in connection with Hobart. I asked him to explain himself, not so that he could say that I made a specific statement. I was asking him to give an explanation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator was one of those making interjections. By making interjections he was disorderly. No point of order is involved.

Senator TOWNLEY - I will answer at some other stage the question asked by Senator Wriedt. I was talking about the tremendous cost of landing a Jumbo in Australia. I think that this is a punitive tax on one section of the community. When the Minister is summing up this debate, perhaps he will say whether this Government has ever had a round table conference in which all aspects of its income from civil aviation and associated spin-offs are taken into account, or whether it is simply putting up costs to the air travelling public because the Government feels that those people are a privileged group. I would like to see the Government carry out such an appreciation of the airlines situation in relation to Tasmania. More importantly, I would like to see a lower air fare structure for flights between Tasmania and Victoria, perhaps with a subsidy.

I turn now to the third part of my speech which I have headed, 'A cleverly connived collapse. ' In 1972 the present Deputy Prime Minister, Dr J. F. Cairns, wrote in a book called 'The Quiet Revolution':

Revolution in an advanced capitalistic country can only become a possibility if there is a serious economic crisis.

I feel that that is happening in this country at the moment, and I believe that it is being done deliberately. I believe that Dr J. F. Cairns and some of his friends also are pushing this country headlong towards disaster and doing it knowingly I believe that he is aided and abetted by the President of the Labor Party, Mr Bob Hawke, and several others. They have generated a state of fear of the future in Australia and they have us headed towards a very serious situation. Many people have been saying these things privately for a long time, but it is time for them to start speaking out and being heard.

A moment ago I tried to tell the young people of Australia that the housing shortage was a deliberately engineered plot and one for which no end is in sight. The same applies to the whole economic mess that this Government has engineered. It is not going to clear up until we have different attitudes from this or the next government. I feel that the inflation is deliberate and we have seen already that unemployment follows inflation as surely as night follows day. When there was talk a little while ago of a recession developing and it looked as though there would be unemployment, we were fed soothing words by the Government. When the stock market fell in a similar manner to the fall in the depression era, we were told that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and ether shares were good buying. Then someone said that there was a credit squeeze and the Government insisted that there was not. For how much longer will this Government dishonestly try to fool and deceive the people of this country?

When a scapegoat is looked for, the Labor people start trying to blame the system. This is a typical socialist tactic- to engineer a disaster and then blame someone else. In this case the Government is blaming the system. What is happening in Australia is this cleverly connived collapse, and the aim is total socialism or even communism.

Senator Georges - Why do you have to talk such rubbish?

Senator TOWNLEY - If Senator Georges wants to talk, he has come in too late. I dealt with interjectors a few moments ago and they have had their turn. I deal with interjectors only in the first 10 minutes I have in which to make my speech, and I have only 3 minutes to go. I have no time to deal with Senator Georges. We have to remember the first plank in the platform of the Labor Party. Senator Georges should remember this. The first plank in the platform is the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange. Those are the words that all Australians should be keeping in mind. I know that I will not convince some of these solid Labor supporters; but I ask the people who swing, those who decide on which side of the chamber we sit, to take note of what this Government is doing.

Bob Hawke has been asking for democratic socialism and this Government has been after it by indirect means- things such as high inflation, unemployment, tight credit, high interest rates and a lot of industrial disruption. These are the things that are leading to the economic crisis. Dr Cairns said that if there is to be a revolution in an advanced capitalist system it is essential to have an economic crisis, and that is where we are going. I do not need to tell honourable senators that I believe in free enterprise. It is still free enterprise which provides 75 per cent of the jobs in this country. It is from the tax on this system that the money is raised for education, social services and the like. I do not think we need socialism in Australia and I do not believe that this Government has a mandate to wreck the system. So what do we do? I suggest to those who are in favour of free enterprise that we have to modify it slightly and constantly in order to make it acceptable.

Senator Mulvihill - Then it is not perfect. You admit that.

Senator TOWNLEY -Neither is the honourable senator. We have to watch and ensure that this Government does nothing to further inflame an already disastrous economic situation. The people of Australia kicked out the socialists 25 years ago; but this time they are acting more cleverly, are better planned and are acting in a more patient way, and this should be pointed out to the public. However, their aim is the same- to develop an economic climate to facilitate the implementation of the first plank of the Labor platform. The Government was not elected on socialisation. If it wants such a mandate, let us have an election with that as the basis of the campaign. We anti-socialists have a responsibility to talk and argue against the socialists. If we do not, we may well lose.

Senator Georges - You have a socialised pharmaceutical industry -

Senator TOWNLEY - I beg the honourable senator's pardon. I have half a minute and I can take his interjection.

Senator Georges - You have a socialised pharmaceutical industry from which you benefit. Are you objecting to a socialised pharmaceutical industry?

Senator TOWNLEY - I would be happy if it were not there.

Senator Georges - What about the medicines that you sell at such fantastic prices?

Senator TOWNLEY - I have done that argument over already. Our prices are lower than anyone else's. If we do not speak out fairly soon we may well lose our prosperity and freedom, and it will be all because we would not stand up and fight.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.

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