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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1418

Mr NEHL(8.39) —It is always a bit of a problem to follow the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Wright). He is rather like a cyclone in search of a Pacific Island to ruin. In passing, I must say that it is rather pleasant to see the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) restored to good health and sitting at the table with a pleasant smile on his face. The honourable member for Capricornia suggested that the real reason the coalition parties-the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia-were opposing this legislation, the Australia Card Bill 1986 (No. 2), was that we wanted to foster a split in the Labor Party. Well, there are fairies at the bottom of his garden and he has proved it again tonight. He suggested that debating this issue is costing the Australian people $180,000 a day. I have never before heard it suggested that a cost should be put on the price of free speech, that there should be a cost put on the price of parliamentary democracy. He suggested that thousands of new jobs are prevented from being created and that more university places are prevented from being created because of this cost. Frankly, that is absolutely crazy.

The debate on this issue boils down to a very fundamental philosophical question. That is: Are the people of Australia here to serve the Government? Are the people of Australia here to serve the state-or is the Government, the state, here to serve the people? I am certain that I speak for every member of the Opposition when I say without hesitation that the reality must be that the state is here to serve the people, not the other way round. Yet this Labor Government, this Hawke Government, this Keating Government, this socialist Government, is determined to impose its control over the people of Australia.

I just want to digress for a minute or two to talk about a couple of very close friends of mine, Henk and Reina van der Iest, who live in the shire of Coffs Harbour. As honourable members may gather from their name, they were originally citizens of Holland and are of such an age that they lived through the German holocaust; they lived through the occupation of Europe. I have often heard Henk talk about his activities during the war in Holland and the fact that many of his friends and some of his family were imprisoned, tortured and killed because of identity cards. The reality is that he has forged identity cards. It is easy to do. He had the technology of his day. Of course, these days the technology is far more sophisticated. But, if the technology exists to create identity cards, it exists to forge them too.

I know that this is stale pastry-something of which I often accuse the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) when he comes into this chamber and starts carrying on about the performance of the Fraser Government and going back in time-but the reality is that even in the gaols of New South Wales we have a track record of the forgery of birth certificates and driving licences. There is nothing whatsoever to stop the forgery of these identity cards. Believe me: If introduced, they will be forged. One can get false passports. Even the honourable member for Banks (Mr Mountford), who is sitting opposite, knows that one can get a false passport. All one has to do is provide a bit of money and they will come.

I want to go on a bit further and just refer to an experience of Reina van der Iest. As I said, Henk and Reina are close friends of my wife and me. They had lunch with us only three weeks ago and Reina told us of an occasion when she was arrested by Germans, by the SS. She was alongside a railway station where there was a train full of Jewish men, women and children. She was only a teenager. She had on a new dress that had been made out of her mother's old petticoat. During wartime in Holland wearing anything new was frowned on, so the other young people, her friends in her village, were teasing her over her new dress, made out of a second-hand petticoat. They threw her into a pond. She had her identity card in her pocket and, as a result of the wetting, the thumb print was blurred and the official stamp on her photograph was blurred. She was going to visit some friends on her bicycle and she was pulled up. I am talking about humanity. I am talking about an individual human being. I am talking about an Australian citizen of Dutch birth. This woman, this friend of mine, was hauled by the SS into a railway box alongside the railway station and interrogated for hours. Standing on the siding was a train filled with Jewish men, women and children. I do not know where they were going; it was not to a good place. For hours while she was being interrogated, she heard the cries and the screams and she saw the urine and the ordure from these human beings dripping down through the floor of the cattle cars.

Dr Charlesworth —You phoney.

Mr NEHL —How dare the honourable member for Perth laugh. The honourable member for Perth is laughing. Don't you dare call me a phoney. Go and play your hockey or something.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) -Order! The honourable member for Cowper will--

Mr NEHL —Of course, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will address my remarks through the Chair.

Mr Campbell —Give him a tranquilliser.

Mr NEHL —The honourable member for Kalgoorlie should watch out for his submarines. This friend of mine was forced to the point of practically being at the stage, at the point of saying `Yes I am Jewish' because that is what they were trying to make her do. They were trying to force her to say that she was Jewish so that they could put her in the cattle car. She got to the point of almost being prepared to admit to this crime of being Jewish, which she was not. Fortunately for her, a collaborator came in and said: `Hello, Reina. What are you doing here?' He was from her village. As a result of that, she was released; she was let go and she survived. But the pressure was so great that she got to the point where she almost confessed to being something that she was not. Only three weeks ago she said to me that she got to the point where she thought: `Why would God want me to survive when these other people are going to their death?'. I have been accused of some form of acting, I suppose, by the honourable member for Perth.

Mr Campbell —I did that too. You are a sham.

Mr NEHL —And by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. But those listening to the Parliament will know where they stand. Let us have no doubt and no hesitation in letting the people know that what we are doing here tonight in this place is talking about the future of Australia. We are talking about the future of Australian democracy: If any member of this place is not concerned about the future of Australian democracy, if any member of this place is not concerned about the future of this country, he or she should not be here. We are talking about a philosophy-I come back to where I started-that asks: Is the state superior to the individual or are we all here to look after the individual?

Mr Cobb —They will have tattoos on us next.

Mr NEHL —As the honourable member for Parkes said, they will have tattoos on us next. The honourable member for Perth is laughing again about tattoos. Is he so young that he has never seen anyone with a tattoo on his arm? The honourable member for Kalgoorlie laughs too. I can tell him that they exist. There are still Australian citizens with them. Honourable members should just stop and think that a great many Australian citizens have experienced that.

There are 55 countries in this world of ours that have identity cards. In only two of them-Sweden and West Germany-is it not compulsory to carry them all the time. the possibilities inherent in the introduction of this Australian Card are truly frightening.

Mr Cobb —Internal passports.

Mr NEHL —As the honourable member for Parkes said, they would be internal passports. In fact, already there are parts of mainland Australia where we cannot go unless we have a visa. I refer to some of the Aboriginal communities. I have been banned from going into an Aboriginal community north of Cooktown.

Mr Cobb —Why?

Mr NEHL —I do not really know why; I have a great deal of affection for Aboriginal people. I am concerned about their welfare the same as I am concerned about the welfare of all Australians. Unfortunately we have a situation which has been put forward by this Hawke Government. Let us just consider the cynicism that has brought this Australia Card Bill back into this place unaltered, even though the Minister for Health wanted, desired and intended that there should be some amendments to it. It is a cynical exercise in politics.

Mr Slipper —It is a sham.

Mr NEHL —It is a sham, indeed. It has been brought back here unaltered purely to provide an early election trigger should the Prime Minister in his foolishness think that he will win an early election. I think I should take this opportunity to assure him and the people of Australia that if he is so foolish--

Mr Slipper —Misguided.

Mr NEHL —And misguided as to call an early election, be it on 9 May or a little later, I do not care. In fact, the sooner he brings on an election, the better for me. The sooner he brings on an election, the better for Australia. I see again that the honourable member for Perth and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie are laughing. They just do not think it is important.

We have a total exercise in cynicism from the Prime Minister because all he is doing is bringing this back on, not because he really wants to introduce the Australia Card but because he wants to have a trigger to call an early election just in case tomorrow's polls or the polls next week suddenly say: `Hallelujah, Bob, you are going to win'. But there is no way he will win because the people of Australia have had a total and absolute gutful of high interest rates. Let us face it, interest rates in this country leave for dead the interest rates of our competitors.

We can look at inflation. Last year inflation in this country was 9.8 per cent. If one takes the last six months of last year and extrapolates those figures for the whole of the 1986-87 financial year one finds that the inflation rate is very close to 11 per cent. How does that compare with some of our trading partners? We are coming up to 11 per cent inflation while the United States of America has only 3 per cent inflation. We are supposed to compete with it. Japan has minus 0.3 per cent inflation.

Mr Slipper —How much?

Mr NEHL —Minus 0.3 per cent. West Germany is even lower-minus 1.3 per cent. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Keating) had the hide and the utter gall to come in here and say that it is because of macroeconomics and because of world factors--

Mr Campbell —I rise on a point of order.

Mr McGauran —For heaven's sake, you are a disgrace.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! The honourable member for Gippsland will cease interjecting.

Mr Campbell —Mr Deputy Speaker, I would ask you not to be too hard on the honourable member for Gippsland. He recognises from whence I come. My point of order is that I hardly see how the interest rates of Australia or other countries are relevant to this Bill. I take a very liberal view of these things, but interest rates are simply not pertinent to the Bill before us.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I thought that the honourable member for Cowper was illustrating a point that I hope he is going to get to shortly.

Mr NEHL —Mr Deputy Speaker, of course, he has got too many points already and he will proceed down the trail to many more.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I do not think that the honourable member for Cowper will proceed down too many trails other than the Australia Card legislation.

Mr NEHL —The trail that I am talking about, Mr Deputy Speaker, is the trail to prosperity for Australia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —If that trail leads to the Australia Card, that is fine.

Mr NEHL —The Australia Card is unfortunately a by-pass on that trail. I appreciate the nervousness of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie in taking his fatuous point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Cowper will not bring the honourable member for Kalgoorlie back into the debate. He will get on with the matter before the House.

Mr NEHL —Mr Deputy Speaker, I would highly prefer not to bring him back into this debate or into any other. In fact, at the next election he will probably lose his seat, so this may be his last chance to have a go. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the inflation rates are relevant.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! It is not really proper to suggest that an honourable member taking a point of order was rudely interrupting you. And I hope that you were not suggesting that by calling the honourable member for Kalgoorlie the Chair was rudely interrupting you. You have been a member of this House long enough to understand the forms of the House.

Mr NEHL —Mr Deputy Speaker, had you ever had the desire to interrupt me rudely or otherwise, I would be delighted to always seek your wisdom and guidance. The point I was making is relevant to this whole debate of the Australia Card because the Australia Card will cost $2,000 billion.

Mr Campbell —What?

Mr NEHL —Did I say that wrongly? It will cost only $1,000 billion.

Mr Sharp —Two thousands.

Mr NEHL —Yes, $2,000 billion. I thank the honourable member for Gilmore very much.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There are too many other honourable members attempting to assist.

Mr NEHL —I could not agree more, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish you would protect me and stop them interrupting.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Indeed, the honourable member for Cowper is encouraging others to assist him. I hope that he will address the matter before the Chair, not seek comments from his colleagues on both sides of the House, and will proceed with the matter before us.

Mr NEHL —Mr Deputy Speaker, all I need is your assistance and guidance.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I can assure the honourable member for Cowper that I intend giving him neither assistance nor guidance.

Mr NEHL —Why not?

Mr McGauran —You are in the chair-Own up to your responsibilities.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member for Gippsland will find that one of the responsibilities of a member is to hear someone else in silence, otherwise he might hear the honourable member from outside the House on the radio.

Mr NEHL —In conclusion, unfortunately because of all these interruptions my time is running out, I think it most appropriate that we should consider particularly what the honourable member for Capricornia said, that there will be no wider uses of the ID card and that there will be nothing else introduced. I refer honourable members to an article that appeared in the Sunday Mail of 15 March 1987 at page 41. It is hardly hot news on page 41. Nevertheless, the headline was: `Wider uses for ID cards'. The article was by Fia Cumming, who I am sure deserves better than page 41. The article stated:

The Government authority in charge of the Australia Card has suggested expanding the card's uses once it has passed through Parliament.

In a confidential document, the Health Insurance Commission-

if we can believe anything of it-

proposed that the card begin with strict limits on its use and the accompanying database.

But when it had been accepted by the public the HIC suggested extra, more controversial, data and uses could be introduced.

The document also reveals how the HIC planned to gain public support for the card by emphasising only the benefits and choosing a harmless name.

. . . .

``It will be important to minimise in advance public reaction to implementation of the system,'' it stated. ``One possibility would be to use a staged approach for implementation, whereby only less sensitive data is held in the system initially, with the facility to input additional data at a later stage when public acceptance may be forthcoming more readily.''

That is the crux of the whole thrust of the Australian Card-to deceive the Australian people and to introduce a system that will make us all slaves of a future government. All thinking people in Australia have to say to the Hawke Government: `No, we do not want your Australia Card. We want to remain free people. We want democracy to survive in this country'. To do that we have to get a change of government. The sooner the Hawke Government calls an election, the better, because we will beat it hands down.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Perth.

Mr McGauran —Good to see you back in Parliament House for a change.