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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4416

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - The

Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made a statement in this House on 2nd December relating to relief for non-metropolitan unemployment. At the end of his statement he said:

Designed as it is to meet the emerging social and economic problem of unemployment in nonmetropolitan areas, the scheme will I believe be warmly welcomed by the House and by the community at large.

I support those remarks because this proposal has been warmly welcomed in rural areas. Anyone with a national outlook will give a warm reception to a proposal such as this which will give assistance to rural people. I believe that honourable members should not clutter up the consideration of this matter by speaking about unemployment in metropolitan areas. Yet this is exacily what the Opposition is doing; this is exactly what the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) is doing. The amendment to the motion 'That the House take note of the paper' commences with the words:

That the following words be added to the motion: and urges the Government to initiate immediate discussions with the States. . . .

How far is he out of touch with what goes on in this country?

Mr Lloyd - Hopelessly.

Mr TURNBULL - -He is hopelessly out of touch. Every time the Government brings something forward a member of the Labor Party nearly always moves that all words after 'that' in the motion 'That the House take note of the paper' be omitted and that certain words be inserted in their place. It does not matter what the Government puts up, although members of the Labor Party had not thought of a proposal before, they think it should be improved. Legislation which was introduced to enable the Commonwealth to make grants for homes for the aged is a perfect example of what I am saying. No Labor government has ever thought of giving grants of a £1 for £1 or a dollar for dollar basis, or a $2 for $1 basis as it is now, for homes for the aged. But the moment the Government introduced the scheme Labor wanted the grants to be increased and increased. If the Labor Party had been in power it would not have thought of this scheme.

I would like to show bow far the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is out of touch with his amendment. The fact of the matter is that the meeting of Commonwealth and Stale officials proposed in the Prime Ministers statement was requested by letters to the Premiers on 1st December, the day before the Prime Minister made the statement. This meeting was held in Canberra yesterday. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his amendment is advocating such a meeting. 1 repeat that the meeting was held yesterday and decided to take certain action. The States are willing, I understand, to cooperate to the fullest extent in regard to using the money that has been made available to overcome, as much as possible, unemployment in rural areas. It is a strange thing that a man who is the Deputy Leader of an Opposition does not keep up to date with events and know what is happening. I put it very definitely that members of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party - perhaps I should say the coalition Government in order to include both Parties - are delighted with the statement. Honourable members who sit behind me and other honourable members who represent rural areas are delighted because, after all, no Country Party man in a State Parliament or the Federal Parliament represents a city or metropolitan constituency. We all represent rural constituencies. Therefore, this statement has been welcomed very warmly indeed. I hope that it will give the best possible deal to people who are unemployed in country areas.

The measures outlined in the statement will help to alleviate unemployment in city areas because if we can stop country workers going to the cities there will be more jobs for those people who love to live in the cities. Many people are attracted to the cities by the bright lights. I know of many people who are attracted to cities because of the better amenities offered by them. Many a man in the country says that he has to get work for his boys and girls somewhere and that be will go to a city because of the greater opportunities offered there. Most cities are what we call spoon fed and the country has had to battle for itself over many many years.

The Labor Party immediately finds fault with any little thing like this that is done for people in country areas. Members of the Opposition cast suspicion on such a proposal. They ask when the country areas will get the money. At the discussion held yesterday to which I have referred, and which evidently was not known to members of the Opposition and definitely was not known to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the position was set out and clarified and generally speaking it is likely that the scheme will be operating at a very early date. As a matter of fact, the scheme could be in operation before Christmas. It is possible that some money will be made available before then, I suggest especially through local government.

It has been said that nothing will be done until the end of the financial year. What greater thing could one do to try to damn the whole scheme than to make this sort of statement? It is just ridiculous when an honourable member comes into the House and makes such statements about this great country that has depended so much in the past on its rural development and its rural products. The secondary industries buy their raw materials with money chiefly derived from the sale of primary products overseas. I refer here to our exports of wheat, wool, dried fruit and other primary products of the soil that build up our balance of payments and our overseas reserves. This money comes back in the form of goods and raw materials without which secondary industry could not operate successfully. Therefore the Government has shown a national outlook in bringing a statement like this forward for the good of the whole community. After all. Australia is still so very, very dependent on its primary industries.

I want to say something about how this money is to be spent. We should be able to spend it to a dual advantage. Firstly, 1 think that the money should be used to relieve unemployment. To be unemployed is one of the most distressing things that can happen to a man, especially if he has a family. Therefore, under this measure we should be able to give him some relief and some employment. But I believe it would be desirable if we could employ him in such a way that a dual advantage can be gained. For instance, men could be employed in building up tourist facilities and for local government projects. This money should be used as much as possible, where appropriate, on the pipelining of water. 1 have said often in this House that in the electorate of Mallee, which I represent, more than 90 per cent of the water which goes from the reservoirs or the water storages to the consumers is lost through seepage and evaporation and, therefore, pipelining must come. It will come sooner or later. If water is pipelined from all our reservoirs it would be equal to duplicating the reservoirs.

I have said many times that the priorities that I have proposed should be accepted. The first priority is defence; because what is the good of having anything in this country - a democratic government or parliament - if it cannot be protected? The second priority which I put forward is primary industry with which is associated water conservation in many cases. These are the definitive priorities that I. have suggested, but as soon as I have done so, someone has called out: What about education, social services, hospitalisation and all these benefits?' It is from the products of the soil that much of the money comes from with which these things can be purchased and from which the Government can give people who are unable to fend for themselves a better deal. Therefore. I believe that the priorities I have put forward are in the best interests of this nation. The pipelining of water is a definite proposition for attention.

Mr Cope - Do you think-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Please do not interrupt the honourable member who is speaking.

Mr Cope - He is inspiring me, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will not interfere with the honourable member for Mallee who is speaking from his place.

Mr Grassby - He is already out of order. He has not debated the amendment yet.

Mr TURNBULL - Mr Speaker,I shall just wait until things calm down a little.

Mr Grassby - He is out of order.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I understand that the honourable member for Riverina is to speak in this debate. I suggest that if he wants the protection of the Chair, he act in a more dignified way to other honourable members.

Mr TURNBULL - I do not want to be unduly harsh on the honourable member for Riverina but this statement has sent him into a kind of a whirl because he knows very well that it will be well accepted in the Riverina where he has long been forecasting doom despite the assistance provided by this Government.

Mr Grassby - Humbug!

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I warn the honourable member for Riverina.

Mr Kennedy - He is not speaking to the amendment.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Bendigo will remain silent and he will sit in bis seat and not on the arms of the benches.

Mr TURNBULL - lt is a strange thing that whenever I start to speak and attempt to advocate things for the country districts that I admire so much I am interrupted by the honourable members for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy), Sydney (Mr Cope) who is sitting in front of me, or Riverina (Mr Grassby). Honourable members can see how they are sitting here like hawks.

Mr Grassby - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I have been very patient but 1 draw your attention to the fact that the amendment before this chamber deals with the need to initiate immediate discussions with the States on unemployment grants. I have been listening for some time to a dissertation of the underground water supply.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will tell me his point of order without debating it.

Mr Grassby - With due respect, Mr Speaker, I put it to you that the honourable member for Mallee has not referred to the amendment before the Chair for some considerable time and I suggest that he be called back to the substantive amendment before the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member should refresh his- memory of the Standing Orders. The matters before the Chair are the motion and the amendment.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member suggests that for some considerable time 1 have not referred to the amendment. I have been speaking for only 10 minutes.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member would be quite in order in not referring to the amendment.

Mr TURNBULL - But 1 have referred to it. I have pointed out that the meeting between the States and the Commonwealth that is sought by the amendment took place yesterday. Surely the honourable member for Riverina remembers me saying that. Therefore, the amendment is out of order; it is too late; the point is over because the meeting has taken place. It was decided at that meeting to do certain things in the best possible interests of this country. I believe that the proposals outlined in the statement will give great succour to the people in the country and will provide employment. I know that big machinery has caused a lot of unemployment in the past in rural areas because not so many people are required. But our country towns are rural . areas. In those towns, of course, conditions have not been very good and I believe that money spent in the right direction in country towns will assist considerably in the general outlook. I heard recently of a man who was talking about how much he liked the country. He lived in the city and someone asked him: Why do you not live in the country?' He said: 'I am living in the city so that I can make enough money for when I retire to enable me to live in the country'. This is the whole problem; the economic conditions are so much better in the cities. But I think it was Henry Lawson who said:

There is Huie real pleasure in the city where I am -

There's a swarry round the corner with its mockery and its sham;

1.   think it would do people good to get out into the country. If we can build up our primary industries and the nation we will bc able to purchase many things. I mention in passing a factor that can help the country areas. What could help the country most is related to a question I asked this morning, namely, that when a redistribution of Federal electorates is proposed the 20 per cent over or 20 per cent under of the quota be implemented. After all, someone said that it does not matter how big an electorate is; it is what the people do in it. Mr Speaker, you, perhaps better than anyone, would know that nothing counts much but votes. A person can advocate anything he likes but it is the vote that determines a matter. My friend the honourable member for Hunter (Mr Tames) would agree with that.

Mr James - I am not a numbers man, but I agree with that.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member agrees with that because it is the vote that counts. It is the vote that first of all puts a man into Parliament and afterwards, when he gets into Parliament, he soon finds out that the vote determines whether he will get something implemented. In his statement, the Prime Minister said:

I may mention also that we would envisage the Department of Labour and National Service being closely associated with the scheme at the ground roots level.

Of course, in this regard, before this statement was made, Mr Allen, who is the head of the Department of Labour and National Service, said that he envisaged that there would not be much trouble in the employment of school leavers this year. He said that the position was well in hand and he believed that there would be no disruption of employment to any extent. This whole subject calls for great cooperation. We have had the Prime Minister's statement and yesterday there was a meeting of State and Commonwealth representatives in regard to it. But, the harsh note that comes into this is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) did not know about yesterday's meeting.

Mr Grassby - You did not tell him.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member for Riverina says that I did not tell him. I am not in the habit of going around telling him things he should know. He should find out. He is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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