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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2076

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - In listening to the speech that has just been made by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) I am reminded of something that was said about Oliver Cromwell. Certain things happened, and it was said: Then curs took courage and tore the great man's body from the tomb, from hallowed ground. But no power can tear him from his immortal sepulchre in England's heart'. It is generally accepted that if one can prove that a certain thing a man has said is incorrect then one must cast a doubt on everything he says. We have been listening just now to the honourable member for Stuart and this made me think about Cromwell. The honourable member made a remark about Sir John McEwen who for so long graced this House as a Minister and who was a back bencher during the time when the Labor Party was in office. I wrote down what the honourable member for Stuart said regarding Sir John. I do not care whether this matter takes all my speaking time because I want to clear up this matter. The honourable member said that when Sir John came into this House first he said that he would have no truck with the Country Party. If the honourable member for Sturt has a spark of manhood in his makeup he will get up an apologise for this. The honourable member has just interjected and said that Sir John came in as an independent. Of course he did not come in as an independent. He was a Country Party candidate at the election when he won the seat. He was a Country Party member. He did not deviate one iota from being a country member for 36 years. Then a new man comes into this chamber who does not know the circumstances and is prepared to make a statement, that he should know is untrue, about a great statesman. It is my duty to put the record straight. The honourable member has taken courage in the same way as the people did regarding Cromwell but while Sir John is alive. John McEwen stands high in the annals of this Parliament and will continue to stand high both while he lives and after. I have spent a lot of my time on this subject. In the few minutes I have left I would like to refer to the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) who said that certain people in this House, it appears, do not realise the very desperate straits that many primary producers are in. All honourable members representing country electorates - I do not confine it to Country Party members - know this very well. They travel around the area. They see what is happening. They are anxious to help.

One thing about the present recession in the country is that we know what causes it Sometimes a thing will happen and one does not know what is causing it. Broadly, the cause is high costs and low prices. I have said before, and I say again, that any man who can stop inflation and raise the price of primary products at this stage would be not only the greatest man in Australia today but the greatest man in the world this century. Inflation exists in all countries with people attempting to combat it but without success. The low price for wool is of critical importance to the people of this country. It would take a genius to find a way to lift the price of wool, but even a genius may not be successful. What the Australian Labor Party does is try to blame the Government for low wool prices.

Mr Cohen - You took the credit when things were good.

Mr TURNBULL - We hear interjections in this place from honourable members who have footpaths in the cities in which they live but they live there because they have businesses there. But out in the wide open spaces - what I would call the better Australia; that part outside the metropolitan area - there are men who require assistance urgently. This Government is most anxious to help those men to the best of its ability and for the good of the economy of this nation. This talk about the Government being to blame does not ring true to me. It must be remembered that this Government has been in office for 22 years. The primary producers, the secondary industry employees and the merchants - and these people are not foolish - would have put this Government out of office a long time ago if it had been in the best interests of this country. I do not say that all these people have always been satisfied with this Government, but they have had a look at this alternative government - the Opposition - and in terror they have said We do not want that Party in office.' The present government is the best available and we must stick to it. The country and city representatives in this Government will fight for what is best for the people of Australia.

In view of my limited time in this debate I will not touch on some subjects which I had intended to deal with. I would like to point out how strongly members of the Opposition cry out about reports of high profits by companies in secondary industry. They cry out about the high profits but they never cry out about the cause of these high profits.

Dr Patterson - Rubbish.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member for Dawson says 'rubbish' but he does not know what I intend to say about the reason for these high profits. He has not the slightest idea of what I am about to say. He is just hitting in the dark.

Dr Patterson - You are making an allegation.

Mr TURNBULL - I will support it to the hilt. The reason for these high profits is the high tariff protection given to some industries. Our big manufacturing industries are given this protection and some make these large profits. Why do members of the Opposition not support the fight against this high protection? The answer is very simple. It suits the Labor Party W> have high profits in these industries, lt suits the Labor Party to have this protection which permits these high profits to be made because immediately the secondary industries get high profits the unions involved go to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court seeking higher wages for their members. It has been said that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is supposed to grant salary rises and better conditions in accordance with what industry can pay. If there is this high protection and industry is making huge profits then of course the Labor Party will cry out in protest but it never crys out against the cause of the high profits. This is no secret. The people of Australia all realise this. The honourable member for Dawson has cried out in the belief that he knew what I had intended saying but he came in too quickly. I do not want to say any more about him because he would only try to insult me again as he did last night.

The Country Party believes that tariff protection cannot be drastically reduced. If this happened the people who would suffer most would be the wage earners and to some extent the primary industries. As investigations should be made of our industries and those industries which can get along without high tariff protection should have the level of tariff reduced to bring them into some accord with primary industries. This country cannot long endure a situation in which the cities are booming and the countryside is in a critical financial situation. There is plenty of money in this country. Australia ' has never been richer but the money is in the wrong places. The only way to get it into the right places is to bring down the level of tariffs to a reasonable figure. I do not say that we should cut out protection altogether. I am not against tariff protection. I am not an out and out antiprotectionist but I believe that tariff protection has gone wild in this country and it has reached the extent where it is not in the best interests of the economy. The primary producer is the man who will fight to the last for his future. The Government is giving financial assistance in many ways to primary industry. I had intended to deal with this matter this evening but I have not sufficient time.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

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