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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3053

Mr YOUNG (Leader of the House)(10.16) —in reply-It is very obvious that the Opposition made a mistake in appointing the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) Manager of Opposition Business. He does not take his job seriously. He is being very flippant about this. It is a very important issue when the Government tries to arrange the business of the House. The honourable member said that the Opposition wants more time to discuss the issues and to ask questions. However, when we ask the honourable member for North Sydney what the Liberal Party's taxation policy is, he cannot tell us. That is the important issue before the Australian people today. The Liberal Party has been in opposition for 4 years and 2 months and it has no tax policy. In January it said that it supported the Government's media policy and yesterday it changed its mind because it could not get agreement between the wets and the dries. Roger Shipton cannot concentrate on the Parliament at all. He has to get pairs all the time to go back--

Mr Shipton —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The Minister is making a reflection on me and, under the Standing Orders, I ask him to withdraw that comment.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Minister will withdraw the comment.

Mr YOUNG —I withdraw. I certainly did not mean to injure your pride, Roger. As Billy McMahon once said to Clyde Cameron, you always hurt the one you love. (Quorum formed) As I was saying, the Liberal Party claims that it wants more time in the Parliament. Yet, when its members, such as the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton) and the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Aldred), are under threat of losing their pre-selections, John Elliott, Andrew Hay and Peter Costello from the extreme right wing are running around causing disruption in the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party and are trying to take the seats off the sitting members of this Parliament. For what purpose? It is because they cannot be defended by their leader. We are giving honourable members the opportunity of a few days off next week to return to their electorates to try to straighten things out. It is very important to this Government that we have a formidable opposition. We do not like to see members of the Opposition in their present disarray. It is one thing that they cannot bring forward their taxation policy, even though everybody is now calling for it to be made public. We saw the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), who is waiting in the wings to take over the reins of leadership again, making himself available for the Sunday program last week. He told us what he is going to do when he again becomes the Leader of the Liberal Party.

It is fascinating that although the Liberal Party is in such disarray, so many people are emerging as future Prime Ministers of a Liberal government. John Elliott wants to be Prime Minister, Andrew Hay wants to be Prime Minister, and Peter Costello wants to be Prime Minister. Andrew Hay is a character. He is running around Victoria saying that he wants to change the preselection system in Victoria in the Liberal Party. He has been defeated three times under the old system. Why would he not want to change it? He has been knocked off by the honourable member for Higgins, he has been knocked off by the honourable member for Goldstein (Mr Macphee), and he has been knocked off by the honourable member for Bruce. He does not think it is fair that a person of his stature and his standing in the community-this leading employer who has two employees-should have to go through the rigours of actually talking to the rank and file of the Liberal Party out in the suburbs. Why should a person like Andrew Hay have to go and talk to the rank and file of the Liberal Party? Those opposite do not do him justice. They do not understand his position in the community. The honourable member for Higgins ought to have more sympathy for a person like Andrew Hay. It is just not fair that the honourable member has to spend all his time up here and then go back to his branch meetings and talk about some of the more mundane things that affect the lives of the average Australian in the Liberal Party branches while Andrew Hay goes almost unnoticed in this great theatre of Australian politics.

As for John Elliott, trying to Fosterise the Liberal Party, why should he have to talk to the common people? Why should a person of John Elliott's standing-No. 1 ticket-holder for Carlton, flying around in this private jet-be brought down from the clouds and have to talk to the average Australian in order to get preselection for the Liberal Party? The honourable member for North Sydney says that we cannot get our legislation in order. What about Opposition members' performance in the Liberal Party and the National Party? Then there is old Joh. He is going to announce the names of some more prominent Australians today to come down here with his team. It is going to be a great presentation of policies at the next election. We are going to have John Howard, or whoever is sitting in the leadership of the Liberal Party, and he will say: `My policy is this, and this is what we will do after the election if we win'. Then we will have Captain No. 2, Ian Sinclair, saying: `No, we are not going to do that. This is what we are going to do'. Then we are going to have the Thunderbolt from Queensland. He will say: `No, we are not doing either of those things; we are going to do something else'. Jim Carlton, the shadow Treasurer, will be saying: `No, we are going to water a bit of each of them down, put them all in the melting pot and see what we come up with'.

That is going to be the presentation to the Australian people at the next election. It is going to be similar to what members of the Opposition did yesterday on their media policy. They could not make up their minds whether to support or oppose the legislation, so someone got up and said: `What about some more licences?' `Good compromise! Terrific compromise! Let's grab that. Give that bloke three stars on his chest and an elephant on his wrist'. It is like primary school. We can imagine the excitement in the Party room when someone came up with the idea of another licence. It has not been mentioned for months, and they come in and surprise the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) and say: `Gotcha! You never thought of this, did you, Duffy? But we have really stymied you this time'.

Members of the Opposition told everybody in Australia in January that they agreed with the Government's propositions, but because they have got their Leader so politically castrated, he walks into his Party room and he has got no leadership there at all. No one listens to him. No one takes any notice of him. On the radio this morning the honourable member for Goldstein said: `I got sacked three weeks ago because of my views on media policy, but I would like to tell everybody in Australia today that I was successful yesterday in the Party room'. So why was he sacked? What happens to him now? Of course, we have the honourable member for Kooyong giving us his views about what the Liberal Party ought be doing.

Rather than the honourable member for North Sydney pretending that Opposition members want to spend more time in the national parliament debating Government legislation, they should be advocating `a back to Thredbo' weekend. I do not know whether it would be safe to send them all back there together. Perhaps they could have one Sunday for the wets, one Sunday for the dries, one Sunday for the Nationals, and one Sunday for those who do not fit any of those categories. Let them put their resolutions together and see whether at the end they can have some sort of policy to deal with the mainstream, major issues which will confront Australia in the months ahead.

Mr Carlton —Let's get on with the Supply Bills.

Mr YOUNG —No; I moved the motion this morning. The honourable member for North Sydney, who does not take his job seriously-he is very flippant about this-has been made Manager of Opposition Business. I am very surprised because he does not care about the responsibilities he now carries. He will not enter into these debates. He waffles on for 15 minutes as though he does not have any additional responsibility at all. I say to him that he is holding a very important job there, which Sinkers did not want to give up. He is a bit grey about not being called the Leader of Opposition Business now. The honourable member for North Sydney will just have to take the job more seriously.

The House of Representatives is a very important chamber-this is the Government of Australia. We will not be able to take it more seriously until the Liberal and National parties, the Joh party, the Elliott party and the Andrew Hay party and all the rest of them can sit down and agree to have one policy to oppose the Government's policy at the next election so that the people can make up their minds about who they want to vote for. At the moment the Opposition is in total disarray. As I have said, honourable members opposite cannot concentrate because the higher group in the Liberal Party wants to dismiss all the preselection infrastructure in the Party so it can take over. There is the group out at Monash University which is now declaring Liberal Party policy, involving $13 billion-worth of cuts in government expenditure. The honourable member for Kooyong is just waiting up there in the wings; growing just a little bit like Richard III. There is a modicum of Richard III sitting there; smiling, thinking: `I'll know when to strike'. Not only is he near the throne but also he has actually been on the throne, so he knows what it is like. He just wants to get it back.

As I indicated earlier, the Parliament will be conducted in the same positive, efficient, constructive manner that it has been over the four years of Labor Government, since March 1983. The Opposition will have more time than any Opposition has ever had to discuss major pieces of legislation. There will be no guillotining of 19 Bills in a one-day sitting as there was under the former Liberal Party Government. Members will be given the opportunity to debate legislation. Occasionally there will be the need to sit an extra hour or two, as we are doing tomorrow and as we may do in the next week of sitting. It is all to give democracy a greater say, so that members of this House can have more time to debate major issues. In the meantime, I hope that honourable members opposite can be a little more friendly to each other, that they can sit together in the dining room. I do not like, and no one who sits behind me likes, the way in which those opposite separate in the dining room, at different tables, as though they are not friends, as though there is some sort of animosity between them. We would rather see them all at one big table, all drinking out of the same pot so that we know that they are all friends again. We would like to see John Elliott send up a crate of Fosters free of charge to those at the Liberal Party table so they can all have a drink to him. We would like to see Andrew Hay as a guest speaker in their party room, telling them what they have to do while they sit there and listen. I would like to see Peter Costello from Copeman's society talk to them. They can grab some of its ideas, which would be so appealing to the Australian electorate, such as cutting out pensions and knocking down schools. Those opposite have no idea how popular those ideas would be outside. They ought to grab some of those ideas; they are terrific. Closing down the public hospitals would be a great idea. We want to see a great deal more friendliness amongst the Liberal and National Party members. They have had enough fighting. We do not think that it is in the best interests of those parties to continue along the path they are taking. We think that it is very necessary to have a formidable Opposition in the Westminster system. We hope that the Parliament can return to such a situation in the weeks and months ahead.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Young's) be agreed to.