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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4429

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - Before the previous speaker, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe), leaves the chamber let me remind him that there sits a man who served in the New South Wales State Parliament under Premier Askin for years, and has said on 3 occasions in this chamber during the course of his speech that, because of representations contained in a letter that Premier Askin wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Premier is nothing more than a liar. Let the honourable member for Paterson find his courage and go back to Sydney and inform Askin that he is a liar on several counts. Let me ask the honourable gentleman whether he is aware of the fact that in the last few days a colliery has closed down in his very electorate. Let me also remind the honourable gentleman-

Mr O'Keefe - Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. No colliery has been closed down in my electorate in the past few days. The information is definitely wrong.

Mr FOSTER - What is the difference whether it is weeks or days? In addition to that let me also say that in the electorate of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), because of the closure of collieries and reduced production by the Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd there is a rising rate of unemployment in the coal fields areas. But the honourable member cannot obtain the figures of unemployment in his own electorate, at the direction, as I understand it, of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) who is not even in the chamber at the moment. Let me deal with the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition in this regard. Let us get away from the divisions and the discriminations of this Government in a measure such as this. One would have thought that if the Government had a skerrick of sincerity in its body or a sincere thought in ils mind the Prime Minister would not, as he did a couple of days ago, have hastened into the chamber in the midst of a debate, interrupted the debate and made a statement, which I hold aloft here, of a page and a half about what the Government intends to do about the very serious unemployment problem within the rural sector.

The Prime Minister, having just returned from overseas, could do no better on a television programme than sit and say that he knew where he was going. He even had to borrow that phrase. Whilst he was overseas he learnt from the 'Economist' newspaper in Great Britain that that was the theme that the Prime Minister of Great Britain had used in a talk to a Conservative Party rally. If honourable members do not believe me let them go into the Library and look up one of the September editions of the 'Economist'. They will see 'This is where we are going', ls this the type of thing we expect from the Government in the national Parliament of this country, facing the problem of an unemployment figure that can reach in excess of 150,000 in the next 3 or 4 months? The Prime Minister comes into the chamber with a scrap of paper. Has he not sufficient parliamentary draftsmen to draft a Bill so that the Opposition can see what is provided, where the money is. going and what the money is to do? The Government should be condemned forever.

The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who spoke initially in this debate on behalf of the Government, pointed out - and correctly so - the unemployment figure for the metropolitan area of Adelaide. However 1 think the figure he gave of about 70 per cent of the total unemployment in South Australia being in Adelaide was somewhat conservative.

Mr Giles - They were the official figures.

Mr FOSTER - They were somewhat conservative because the official figures are more than conservative. What can be expected of a Government . that has been in office for 22 years which has created this monster and which has erected the tombstones of unemployment throughout the length and breadth of this country? What can one expect of it when it comes in with a measure .without any degree of seriousness about it but on which it must stand condemned because the problem it seeks to solve is of its own creation? The Government now has to tell the world how ineffective it has been. The few honourable members opposite who are in the chamber ought to be reminded of the statement on full employment that was made by Robert Gordon Menzies back in 1949 when he conned everybody. I have a copy of it here if they want to read it. How can we expect anything from a Government that has been so long in office? The Country Party, which receives only 8 per cent of the votes across the nation, has in this Parliament a number of seats quite out of balance with the number of people who support it. This comes about because of the weighted advantage that the Country Party has in country electorates.

What does the honourable member for Patterson expect $2m to do? What does he expect men such as the man who walks into the chamber now, the Prime Minister, to do? The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) asked what the newspapers were saying about the Prime Minister. The newspapers are saying that Billy McMahon says: 'You will be all right. Australia can take the lead'. It is enough to make anybody with any sense of responsibility in this place shudder. The Prime Minister sneaks into the chamber - and I say it to him while he is sitting in the chamber - interrupts the debate and makes a snap statement. Somebody winds him up, he unwinds in this House for 10 or 15 minutes on a. statement such as the one he made a while ago, and then he clears off again until somebody else winds him up by mentioning trade unions or something of that nature.

Mr McMahon - By the way, asked for by you.

Mr FOSTER - You need not interject while I am speaking. I ask the protection of the Chair from the Prime Minister. The time is well overdue when the Prime Minister should rise in this place and make a statement about matters concerning the public of this country. I challenge you, Sir-

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