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Tuesday, 27 March 1973
Page: 752

Mr GARLAND (Curtin) - About an hour ago I was engaged in making some comments about the record of this Government in its first 100 days of office. I took the opportunity presented by the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1973. Unfortunately there was not enough time allotted to me in which to list all the misdemeanours of this Government and I propose to mention a few more in the time that is now available to me in the adjournment debate. I was in the midst of explaining that we had the incident that has become known as the Barnard affair. The Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) had this strange separation from his Press Secretary and instilled into the position of the Minister are certain elements. He maintains that his Press Secretary notified him of his intention to resign the following week. The Minister said to him: 'No, leave this week'. However, he later claimed that he had no idea why the Press Secretary left him. I pointed out in my earlier remarks that this is a very strange matter and I drew attention in particular to a very telling paragraph in the document supplied by the Secretary of the Department of Defence at the request of the Minister for Defence. It would repay study by honourable members. The importance of this matter to the Government is not Mr Lloyd, the Press Secretary; its importance is that it brings into question the whole competence, if that is the word and not the opposite to it, of the Minister for Defence.

Another matter of importance in the conduct of this Government during its period in office is the allegiance which it has shown that it has to pay to the trade union movement. The 'Australian' on 26th February referred to 2 matters. The 'Australian' newspaper is an impeccable source so far as the Australian Labor Party is concerned, almost its authority and certainly a newspaper which is most favourable to the Government. The first matter was the statement by the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) of the new Government policy that government contracts are to be restricted to firms employing union members and firms which have good relations with the trade union movement. This is a policy which leaves out of consideration quality and price as determining features for the placing of government contracts and creates a situation in which the Minister or some public servant has to decide which companies get contracts but not on the basis of quality and price. So it opens the way to corruption, to trade union pimping and favouritism. The second reference was to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) who tried to get a fourth week's annual leave given only to those public servants who are trade unionists. The 'Australian' in an editorial on 26th February condemned those policies. Imagine the Australian' condemning policies of the Labor Government! It said:

The use of such power to enforce a principle of doubtful national significance seems indefensible.

With that I heartily agree. The fact is that this Government understands that it has an obligation to the trade union movement irrespective of what is right in the Australian national interest and it is engaged in making the pay-offs. The Australian Labor Party rests four square on the trade union movement and is afraid to resist excessive demands. Indeed even in the reformed Australian Labor Party the trade union movement has some 60 per cent of votes.

I come next to the oft-quoted mandate that the Government claims to have for everything in its policy speech. The whole concept of a mandate is fallacious, and the Prime Minister, who is a Queen's Counsel, knows much better than to try to maintain this fallacy. I challenge him to look up the references, the constitutional authorities, to see what they say about the concept of a mandate. It is quite clear that the concept is invalid. The Government must do, under our Constitution, what it believes is right, not what is in some policy document, and the Opposition must oppose what it believes is wrong. It is quite fallacious, quite incorrect and indeed dangerous for the Government or the Opposition to believe that a matter has been decided at the elections and cannot be opposed. I refer to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), his verbose and boring Press releases and his striving to make something newsworthy every day. He surely by now must have been through all the classic backgrounds and poses for photographs in newspapers.

Mr Keogh - You are simply jealous.

Mr GARLAND - That may be. No doubt his lively imagination will ensure many more photographs. I refer next to the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson), whom I am pleased to see in the chamber. That has been quite a change for the Ministry this evening. So much has been heard from him and indeed from other Ministers about what would be done in the north. Let us face it: That Minister has been discredited by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and then by the Cabinet in a public squabble about his policies.

Mr Keogh - I raise a point of order. The honourable member is reflecting unfavourably on the Minister for Northern Development.

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