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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3223

Mr KATTER(9.31) —I commend the honourable member for Lowe (Mr Maher) particularly on his comments regarding the necessity for additional school facilities. I ask him to take the matter a step further. There are many groups of schoolchildren in the more intensely populated urban areas. I have often thought that it would be wonderful if we could have a city children's health scheme, in other words a scheme which would get our kids from the slums and intensive areas of population out into the country. We could bring our underprivileged children from the bush and let them see the sea perhaps for the first time. I think the kids in the city are at a far greater disadvantage. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) spoke earlier. I commend that forthright Australian for the many things he says which are so valid and probe deeply into the core of some of the ills of this country.

At times I wonder about members of the Government. One gets to know them and one knows that in their heart of hearts they could not possibly be supporting some of the weird things that the State governments and the Federal Government have released on this nation. I do not want to start giving a sermon but have honourable members ever noticed that the standards begin to loosen up when the Australian Labor Party takes over? Yet a great number of its members do not agree with some of its policies. I know the honourable member for Hunter (Mr Robert Brown) would not agree. I know many people would not agree with some of the Labor Party's policies. The woman referred to earlier by the honourable member for Franklin commended the grossest sexual education. No-one in his heart of hearts could imagine his own child going into a class and having a lesson on masturbation. Who could commend that? I commend the honourable member for Franklin. He is forthright; he hits the nail right on the head. However, that is not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk tonight about some of the ills of the people whom I represent and who are spread over an area of 663,000 square kilometres. People from all parts of that electorate pour into the coffers of this capital city and this nation millions and millions of dollars. I do not know whether I will ever have the opportunity of asking God but I often wonder why He decided that sheep would grow and thrive hundreds of miles from the coast. The soil in the country in the far out parts of Australia, the Northern Territory and where I live in the far west of Queensland, is extremely rich. One blade of grass is full of nourishment . I do not know why God decided that. I do not know why God decided that the coal and the riches of this earth should be in far flung places. But it was necessary that a handful of people went to those areas under the most appalling climatic conditions and all the penalties of distance which are obvious to anyone who is a real Australian-there are some left. It is obvious that the people in those areas have the most unspeakable difficulties to contend with. Yet whenever a handful of us come forward and put the case for these people someone will say: 'Here are the galahs again! You represent a handful of people out in the scrub. Sit down and keep quiet'. We do not keep quiet because in order to make our voices heard we have to speak with much more emphasis and much more conviction, than many other people.

Tonight I want to talk about the airlines. We struggle constantly. From the outback country came the famous Hancock report. What did it do to us? It said: ' The time has come when cross-subsidisation must cease'. That was accepted. What is cross-subsidisation? It means that people who live in areas where billions of dollars are readily available, where there is every possible amenity and comfort and where there is every possible assistance for life to be so much easier would no longer contribute, for their great wealth, a mere pittance per head of population-one could not even calculate it-to keep our planes running in a normal way. What do I mean by that? Am I talking about great, luxurious planes? Not one damn bit of it. I am talking about a Fokker, an F27.

Mr Gayler —Who?

Mr KATTER —An honourable member said 'who'. Some people do not even know what a Fokker is because they have all the comforts. They have Boeing 727s and Boeing 707s and occasionally they have to fly on a DC9. My heart bleeds for them! The subject has come up again. Are we going to continue to have F27s or will we be relegated to some tiny little aircraft? One could have commuter planes, to link with the big F27s. That is not good enough. I am serving notice on everyone concerned and I feel confident that I will get the sympathy of the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley). I hope he is human enough-I have served on committees with him-to understand the influence he might have in this matter. I admit that at the moment it is at the State level. I will ask every Cabinet Minister in Queensland, including my own son, to make sure that the continuity and standard of aircraft are not lowered in any way at all. Let me tell honourable members why I get a little steamed up about this matter. There is no economy fare on an F27; honourable members should not have that illusion. One pays a first class fare. One will be given a cup of tea and a couple of little biscuits in a packet . If one can hold the cup of tea still long enough one can drink it. If one gets on a luxurious aircraft, a Boeing 727 or a DC9, one will be served with sandwiches and savouries. Why are my constituents and the people who are producing the great wealth of this nation considered to be third class citizens? Why are we doing away with cross-subsidisation?

That brings me to countrywide calling. I feel that the Government had the best of intentions when it introduced that scheme but it is a washout. Let me explain to the people who do not understand it what I am talking about. It means that people who have fought for years and years to get a local access call to their nearest business centre-an ordinary local call charge-suddenly found that because they were more than 32 kilometres from a concentrator or from whatever was the focal point they would now be charged for a trunk line call. Admittedly, it would be at a lower rate but it is still a timed call. I am pleading with the Government. I admit that there have been some revision of boundaries. A few crumbs have been thrown to my constituents. However, I suggest that this whole matter be revised, that a little responsibility come back into the whole of the system and that people who have enough to contend with be given a bit of a go.

The final matter I want to raise concerns the coal mining industry. A number of towns have grown up in Queensland and throughout Australia. Some have been old, redeveloped coal deposits; many of them are new ones. People have gone there with great hope for the future. Admittedly young people went there to get a quick dollar but they have grown to love the place and want to spend the rest of their lives out there. We now have a feeling of complete insecurity. What does the future hold? Will Japan renew our contracts? What is the situation? No one seems to be able to define clearly the future of the coal mining industry. I am making a plea to the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Walsh). He held a conference in Canberra to which all people involved in the coal industry were invited. The conference went well. We were able to exchange ideas. We were exposed to people at various levels in the industry who had various degrees of interest. There was an exchange of ideas; and expose by the unions, by the bosses and by all concerned. Finally, I make a plea to the Minister for Resources and Energy to hold a similar conference in the area where these people live and slave, the area where this great wealth is produced for the nation.