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Tuesday, 9 May 1961

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a rather long speech to the House this evening. It would have been a far better speech if it had been half as long, and which half of his speech the honorable gentleman omitted would not have mattered very greatly. He accused the Government of doctrinaire thinking. This intrigues me, because the Leader of the Opposition was followed on his side of the House by the most dedicated doctrinaire socialist in the federal Parliament. I refer to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who, in a most disarming speech and with touching modesty, said that if anybody on this side of the chamber who followed him could refute even a tiny part of what the honorable member had said, that person would be very clever. That is an extraordinary challenge to throw down, because, if one looks at the speech made by the honorable member, one finds that, metaphorically speaking, one could drive a fleet of council buses through it. I hope that I can drive a few of the buses through his arguments in the few minutes that are available to me this evening.

First of all. Sir, the honorable member accused the Government of adopting a wage-freeze policy. This is a significant sort of thing to say, because what the honorable gentleman regards as a wage-freeze policy is interpreted by sensible people as merely the presentation of evidence before the appropriate tribunal. So the honorable member says implicitly, if not explicitly, that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which determines wages in this country federally, will bow to government direction. I think that that is a monstrous charge to level at those who sit on the commission and determine these matters.

Then the honorable member made a fleeting reference to the Government's credit policies. He said that the Government is committed to a hard, unyielding credit policy, or words to that effect, and he mentioned the name of Sir Otto Niemeyer. I remind the honorable gentleman that it was a Labour government which invited Sir Otto Niemeyer to this country together with Professor Gregory during the depression, and the most restrictive credit policy every pursued by any government in the whole 60 years of federation was adopted by a Labour government during the depression years. So when the honorable member talks about the ghost of Sir Otto Niemeyer, I say to him that he ignores the substance and sees things in the shadow, because, if he has any intellectual honesty about these things, he is bound to admit the fact that Sir Otto Niemeyer and Professor Gregory came to this country during the depression years and advised the Labour government of the day, and that what was known as the Premiers' Plan was accepted at the time as a result. That plan was, in the broad, propounded by these two gentlemen, both of whom, interestingly enough, Sir, had a long association with the London School of Economics, which has produced more doctrinaire socialists compared to the total number of its undergraduates than has any other university in the world.

The honorable member for Yarra turned next to what he regarded as being the substance of this debate - the Governmeni's transaction with the International Monetary Fund. With a touch of remorse in his voice, he said: " Ah! You are abandoning our sovereignty." This has been said by three or four Opposition members. For the purposes of my argument, let me concede that this was the effect of that transaction. But who was it that ratified the Bretton Woods Agreement? It was a Labour Government led by the late Mr. Chifley. And Australia's participation in the International Monetary Fund was voted for by the present Leader of the Opposition, who was at that time a member of this House and a Minister in the Chifley Government.

Mr Uren - There was more to the International Monetary Fund than that, and the honorable member knows it.

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