Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1161

Senator CROWLEY(7.01) —I wish, on the adjournment debate, to draw the attention of the Senate to a letter that I received from the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Peacock. Mr Peacock's letter invites me to consider the following important matters. He challenges me to appreciate that unlike Australian Labor Party politicians he does not have to take instructions from 99 men and women delegates to the Labor Federal Conference, but he adds that he is prepared to listen to 'you', meaning in this case anyone who reads the letter. He adds further that he wants those of us who get to read this letter to support him on a 'very important project'. He wants our personal views on several critical issues. He goes on to say that he has a Strategy Committee that has prepared a 'Special Critical Issues Survey', and he adds:

Because I believe you are a person who shares an interest and concern in these matters, I would particularly value your response.

He adds further, with great insight:

Over the last seventeen months since we lost government, my colleagues and I have been working quietly developing new Liberal initiatives.

Now, this is your opportunity to add your personal views to this process.

What I find very interesting is that there is no opportunity for people, when they fill in the enclosed questionnaire to decide what are the critical issues. These have been chosen by the Strategy Committee. Honourable senators will be pleased and surprised to know that the critical issues include Medicare, Taxation and Income Support and General, which includes things such as the attitudes to migration in this country, to a secret intelligence organisation, to a prices and incomes accord that addresses the issue of whether union leaders should have a say or an ability to have a say in Federal Government-whether we should change the Australian flag and what we think of the wine tax. I suppose that is a list of critical issues, but I find it quite interesting that nowhere is there mentioned the question of employment, the question of the need to reduce the deficit, the question of addressing the problems created by inflation , or any acknowledgment for instance that inflation has fallen-

Senator Giles —Or housing.

Senator CROWLEY —And certainly no question addressing housing; I thank Senator Giles for that addition to the list. Social security is reduced to very few items. I am also interested to note that the questionnaire is, I think one could say, designed in a loaded way. Question 1 states:

On 1 February 1984 the Hawke Labor Government introduced a new health insurance scheme, Medicare. This scheme involves a compulsory levy of 1% on all income in addition to the costs to those who wish to continue with private insurance. Do you consider that you and your family are better off under these new arrangements?

I would not have thought it a matter of consideration; I would have thought it a matter of fact. Of course that fact depends on whether people choose to be in Medicare or whether they choose to add private insurance to that Medicare levy as well. The next series of questions I think are all loaded in the same way. One could only say about this questionnaire that it rather leads the readers. I will not go through all the questions, but I think there are some that are not going to give Mr Peacock much satisfaction, although he may get some very interesting little figures from his computer when all these things are analysed. The last question that really fascinated me, and which is only for those, of course, who have become special contributors by donating money as well as their answers, states:

Do you believe Andrew Peacock should launch an advertising campaign to bring these critical issues you have nominated to the attention of the people of Australia?

In fact the people do not nominate the issues as they have been nominated for them. I would have thought it was rather curious of Mr Peacock to wonder whether he should advertise his interest in these things, particularly as he claims in the letter to be the Leader of the Liberal Opposition. Presumably leaders of the Opposition do advertise from time to time about matters of concern. I find it such an interesting letter that I think it worthy of bringing to the attention of the Senate, particularly the direction on the envelope which says that when I have filled in this questionnaire I might send it all back to the Strategy Committee. I can only say that if the Strategy Committee of the Liberal Party is dependent on the responses from people on issues such as these, the Liberal Opposition I am sure is bound to remain in opposition.