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Tuesday, 6 March 1973
Page: 217

Mr McKenzie (Diamond Valley) - Mr Deputy Speaker, first, may I ask you to convey my congratulations to Mr Speaker on his appointment to the high office which he' now holds and also ask you to accept my congratulations on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. Perhaps the greatest honour which can come to anyone in a parliamentary democracy is to act as a representative of his or her fellow citizens. I am very conscious of the honour of representing the people of Diamond Valley in this House, and I thank the electors for their support. I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking my predecessor, Neil Brown, for the work he did on behalf of the people of Diamond Valley. Although we belong to different parties and have different points of view on many important matters of policy, we have, through 2 election campaigns remained friends. I wish him well.

The Governor-General's Speech is a blueprint for social and economic change in Australia. I would like to comment on some of the issues raised in the speech, and add some of my own thoughts on what I believe to be desirable extensions in the years to come. We live in an age of challenge and an age of change. I believe that it is up to all honourable members, both Government and Opposition, to make sure that this Parliament works. I hope that this twenty-eighth Parliament goes down in history as the great reforming parliament. If the aims as set out in the GovernorGeneral's Speech are put into effect, then this hope will be realised. The Speech lists very important matters such as social security which will affect the basic welfare of Australians. We live in a country where no-one should suffer poverty, where no-one should be lonely in old age and where no-one who is sick does not receive proper care. We live in a community which is rich enough to provide for the needs of its citizens. What happens depends to a large extent on us. This Parliament bears the responsibility.

This Parliament should be an effective instrument for political action which is the expression of the will of ordinary people in society. That is why the electoral measures which will come before us for detailed discussion shortly are so important - these measures will embody the principle that a majority of the people of Australia through their vote can make and break governments. The will of the majority of electors should be supreme and no electoral gerrymander should ever take away this right. The Governor-General's Speech outlines the desire of the Government to build a more co-operative society. 1 am well aware that many Australians do not hold the parliamentary system in very high regard. This is regrettable. However, we as members of this House will need to take positive action if this attitude is to be reversed, and here I agree with the remarks that were made this afternoon by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). I hope that we will establish committees to examine many aspects of Australian society. These committees and individual members will need to be provided with the necessary secretarial and research facilities if this Parliament is to make sure that legislation and proposed legislation is properly considered and if members are to be able to carry out their tasks with efficiency while retaining a very necessary contact with their own electorates and the community. The bringing of the people into real contact with their Parliament is the responsibility of all members of this House, both Government and Opposition. By working together on matters where there is general agreement I believe we can add a new dimension to political life in Australia.

I hope that this Parliament will make significant progress towards giving women an equal place in our society. For a country which once led the world in granting rights to women about the time this Parliament was established we have often since lagged behind the rest of the world. What many people fail to realise is that true equality for women is of great benefit to society - to both men and women. As a teacher I saw how much the granting of equal pay and status has meant to the profession as a whole. When this Parliament considers legislation which affects women, women should be consulted, and they should help make the decisions. This House can make a significant contribution to rights for women by, among other things, passing legislation to provide much better adult education facilities, to establish equal pay for work of equal value, to provide for family planning clinics, to build child care centres and to reform those laws which discriminate against women both socially and financially.

Twelve years ago a select committee in another place brought down a report outlining its findings on certain aspects of road safety. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the honourable member for Robertson, a previous speaker in this debate, has a great and well known interest in road safety. Not nearly enough has been done by governments up to this time to see that action arising out of the select committee's findings was implemented. Road accidents cost Australia in excess of $ 1,000m annually and cause pain and grief which can never be measured in monetary terms. I am convinced that by taking resolute and well planned action this Parliament can change the present situation. If this country were involved in hostilities with another country which caused the tens of thousands of deaths and injuries which road accidents cause in Australia every year, then no effort would be spared, no cost would be too great to see that such death and injury were brought to an end. That is the sort of effort we must make. If it means a complete rethink about the type of individual and public transport systems that we will need in the future, then that is what we must do. New concepts which will provide fast, safe, and efficient transport and at the same time preserve our resources and our environment must be thought out and adopted.

Our environment can also be preserved by providing well planned incentives to individuals and corporations to encourage them to recycle waste and prevent the destruction of irreplaceable resources. We live on what has been aptly described as spaceship earth. Careless and unplanned use of this world's resources if continued indefinitely will cause the destruction of future generations almost as surely as atomic warfare. We owe a debt to the past. We also have a responsibility to those who come after us. As trustees of the earth we must see that through world wide co-operation the earth's resources and the environment are preserved. My electors will be watching with hope and interest to see the implementation of policies which will assist in the preservation of the environment.

I am very pleased to see the emphasis which is given to education in the GovernorGeneral's Speech. As a young area Diamond

Valley is vitally concerned. I am quite sure that we shall see from this Government a new deal for children at all stages of their education and especially fop those children in our community who suffer mental, social, or physical handicaps. As with social welfare matters the mark of a good, just, and great society is the way in which that society treats those of its members who are less fortunate than the average. I believe that we need to start thinking of education not only as a service for the young but as a service to the whole community, to be used as and when necessary - like health services. This will need a completely new emphasis on the role of adult education and retraining programmes. The proposed use of schools as community centres is long overdue. In the electorate of Diamond Valley where we have a great many young people the provision of cultural, youth, and recreational facilities, based at least in part on our schools, will be very much appreciated.

I believe that the Government is to be congratulated on the progress which has already been made to see that all Australian citizens have available to them a wide range of social security benefits when and if they need them. I am particularly pleased about the decision which has been taken to abolish the means test on age pensions during the next 3 years. Not only will the abolition of the means test mean that our elderly citizens will enjoy a better standard of living but it will also mean that many people who are in receipt of retirement benefits will be able to continue to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy - at least on a part time basis.

The action promised to encourage economic growth will be welcomed by the whole community. A nation is as rich as the goods and services it produces. Incentives to industry and others to produce more goods and services of real value will quickly raise the standard of living of the Australian people and will enable a more rapid implementation of the programmes outlined, lt is also pleasing to see that mention is made of the need to fight inflation. Since I was elected I have received many letters from constituents who are concerned about the continuing and rapid rise in prices. This rise in prices is causing hardship to those members of the community who are not in a position to fix their own wage or price structure. Rising prices affect pensioners and others on fixed incomes, most families, and a very large section of primary and manufacturing industry. I believe that as a first step a prices justification tribunal is very welcome, but ultimately powers will need to be sought from the States or from the people to regulate prices. This does not mean that our economy needs to be in the grip of an iron bureaucracy, but rather that those people who at present manipulate the economy for their own selfish benefit will have to be satisfied with a reasonable profit for initiative, skill, and the use of their resources. There is no doubt in my mind that a referendum proposal on price regulation if put to the people would receive overwhelming support.

At long last local government is to get a new deal. For far too long local government has been denied the resources which are necessary to carry out the tasks which a developing society requires it to perform. The proposed legislation to allow local government access to the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the moves to give local government a voice on the Australian Loan Council are to be highly commended. Eventually I hope to see a fully integrated system of government in Australia where each level of government - Commonwealth, State and municipal - has its properly planned role to perforin. I am a firm believer in national planning but I am also a firm believer in local implementation of those plans whenever possible. The people who are most affected should have a direct voice in the implementation of those policies which concern them. For instance 1 would like to see more local participation in the field of social security. I believe that this would not only be cheaper but would also be much closer to those concerned. Financially, too, an integration of government and a planned use of resources would pay handsome dividends.

I believe that the rating system based on property values is no longer appropriate in a modern society. Not only do municipal rates fall most heavily on particular groups in our community, namely those on fixed incomes and farmers, but also little regard is given to the the ability to pay. In addition the actual collection of the rate is expensive. In the electorate of Diamond Valley which, outside the Australian Capital Territory, is the largest electorate in Australia in terms of electors enrolled, the collection of municipal rates would cost something approaching $250,000 annually and over the whole of Australia in excess of S20m. This expenditure produces nothing of real worth to the community. We can use our resources much better.

Another aspect of the Governor-General's Speech which interested me was the emphasis placed on international co-operation. Such measures as those outlined provide useful steps towards the ideal of world government. In the course of human history we have progressed from the family unit to the tribe, to the village, to the city state, to the nation state and now to the amalgamation of nations into various defence and economic arrangements. Each one of these steps was necessary for the preservation of human society. I believe that we have now reached the stage where world government is necessary for the future preservation of human society. Australia can and should give its support to the concept of world government. I do not underestimate the difficulties - they are enormous - but we cannot afford to wait until there arises a meglomaniac who is prepared to destroy the world if his will cannot be supreme. A loss of sovereignty can in my mind be justified in the interests of the safety of the whole human race.

A useful step in the process of world integration would be the teaching of the international auxiliary language Esperanto to all children all over the world, lt is easy to learn and expressive and would enable people in this day of extensive world travel to meet and converse with ordinary people no matter where they might go. Esperanto means the language of hope. If all people could communicate no matter where they travelled then one of the serious barriers to world integration and government would be broken and the hope of world wide co-operation would be much closer to being achieved.

As far as Australia is concerned I support the idea of the establishment of a chair of peace studies at an Australian university. Surely the subject is important enough to receive the attention and support of this Parliament. Human nature does not change but human attitudes do. It is the combined attitudes of the people who make up our society that are important - not individual saints or sinners. Whenever people say that matters like world government, the disappearance of racism, the abolition of poverty and the effective use and conservation of the earth's resources are unattainable ideals, I think of an illustration I once saw on the cover of the Victorian Teachers Journal'. It showed a small boy in the latter part of the last century being reprimanded by his schoolmaster for making paper darts in school. As a punishment, the boy was writing over and over again on the blackboard: 'Man will never fly. Man will never fly.' Mankind can, if it so desires, accomplish all manner of wonderful things. The real question is whether we are prepared to organise things properly to see that ideals are translated into action. That is the role of this Parliament. I hope and believe that this Parliament can make its own significant contribution to the action which is necessary.

MrDEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Before calling the honourable member for McMillan 1 point out to the House that this is the honourable member's maiden speech. 1 call the honourable member for McMillan.

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