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Tuesday, 30 November 1971
Page: 3790

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I second the motion. I would like to put briefly to the House the reason why I second the motion. I will, of course, be limited in what I can say now as to why the motion should be accepted. The reason why it should be accepted is that the examination bythis House of the state of the economy and the Government's policy or lack of policy in relation to the economy is an urgent matter. There is no other matter so urgent in this nation at this time. The urgency of the situation arises from the remarkable coincidence of inflation and unemployment at the one time. Some governments have been able to bring about inflation, some have been responsible for unemployment, but it took this Government to be responsible for both at the same time. There is an urgency in this matter because many of our fellow citizens are suffering very badly in the current situation. Many tens of thousands of boys and girls are to leave school in the next few weeks and many tens of thousands of them will not be able to get jobs or will not be able to get the jobs for which they have been educated. Because of the absence of employment opportunities in the next few weeks the future of tens of thousands of young Australians will be materially affected. The problem of working out some action that might be taken to deal with that situation is an urgent matter.

That, Mr Speaker, is one of the reasons why this motion should be accepted now. I do not need to recite the difficulties of rural industry. I do not need to remind the House that broad sectors of rural industry have no idea of their own future. The Government should be required to say whether it considers there is a satisfactory future demand for rural products to maintain rural industry at its present level or whether it will bring forward a plan to transfer farmers out of production for their own welfare. The Government has never faced this question. Facing it is an urgent matter, and this is one of the urgent reasons why this motion should be accepted now and not postponed to some time in the future.

Another question that involves enormous urgency is the matter of the inflow of overseas foreign funds. Figures for the September quarter show an inflow of about $400m, as against $1 40m for the same period last year. Nobody knows whether this is hot money, cold money or some other sort of money, but what we can be sure about is that if this flow continues at that rate for long, Australia will be foreign owned. It is an urgent matter to decide whether this is so and what should be done about it. This is a buyer's market and it seems to me that it suits the multi-national corporations that are responsible for this inflow of foreign money to have a buyer's market so that they can get a firm grip on the crucial elements in the Australian economy that they do not own already. With shares in Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd at a little over $9 a share, this is a buyer's market.

Mr Whittorn - Crocodile tears.

DrJ. F. CAIRNS- The honourable member who is interjecting may find that the few shares he owns are in a company which, before very long, will be owned overseas. It is urgent that this Government face the question of whether it wants Australia to be sold out at this rate to foreign buyers.

It has been said often in the last few weeks that only the Government can begin a recovery; that only the Government can give the economy the stimulus that is needed to put it back at a firm rate of development. It is the Government's responsibility to say whether it can do so. But what is the Government's attitude? No-one knows. The Prime Minister was asked several times last week during question time, sometimes by - I will not say his supporters - members on his own side of the House-

Mr McMahon - Which ones?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - The honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury). 1 see you do not dispute that.

Mr McMahon - Check the facts.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - 1 do not mean the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth); I mean Mr Les Bury, who was the Treasurer until you cut his head off. If he still supports you, he has no feelings at all, which I sometimes suspect.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The question before the Chair is the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I say that questions were asked even from the right honourable gentleman's own side which he carefully evaded or avoided. So the economy as a whole is no better placed than is this House; it has no better idea where the Government stands; it has ho better idea whether the Government considers it faces inflation or unemployment. The economy has no idea of whether the Government intends to follow out a restrictive policy or a stimulating policy. No indication has been given, but indications have been asked for from all over the country. Perhaps it is already too late for the Government to be able to do anything about this. Perhaps we will go into 1972 with a continuing downward trend in the economy. Perhaps even if the Government acted now it could not bring about a recovery.

I submit to the House that there is a degree of urgency about the situation that does not allow the Government to postpone this want of confidence motion for one more hour. Of course, under the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies and the Right Honourable Harold Holt and even possibly in the short interregnum of the Right Honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) - none of us got to know him very well, but quite possibly even under him - the traditions of this House would not have allowed a no confidence motion to be pushed aside. Whenever a no confidence motion was moved in this House when the Government was led by those gentlemen they had the guts to debate it immediately. They did not want it put off until some later day so that they could go out and consult with their friends and make up their case and devise their alibis. But not this Government; this Government is a government of -alibis. This Government-

Sir Alan Hulme - Why don't you leave it there?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - The Minister responsible for stamps interjects.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The proper title of the honourable gentleman is the PostmasterGeneral.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I finish what 1 have to say in seconding the motion upon this point: No government that has a proper sense of what should be done in this House can for one minute push aside a no confidence motion. No government that has a proper sense of responsibility can leave a no confidence motion hanging over its head. That is why I have seconded the motion moved by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, which states:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Melbourne Ports moving forthwith the motton of want of confidence of which he has given notice for the next day of sitting and such motion taking precedence of all other business until disposed of.

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