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Tuesday, 27 March 1973
Page: 755

Mr NIXON (Gippsland) - The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) reveals a great capacity to rise . at this time of night and poke fun at various members of the Opposition. It is time we looked at the Minister himself. Most honourable members can remember the great speeches he used to make on a great variety of high policy matters when he was in Opposition, particularly in respect of immigration. At one time he was the shadow Minister for Immigration. Unfortunately the shadow was too pale and wan for his own liking and a little dark for the liking of others so it was thought that he should be removed from that shadow portfolio. The South Australian Premier did not like him nor did one or two members sitting beside him on the front bench so the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), as Leader of the Opposition, was forced to reallocate his shadow portfolios. After the elections the Prime Minister was confronted with the. horrible knowledge that the honourable member for Grayndler had been elected to the Ministry. What a shock this was. The Prime Minister had to find a portfolio for him. What did he find? The honourable member for Grayndler was appointed to look after property and services - something that I, when I was Minister for the Interior, used to handle in about 2 hours a week. My successor, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), handled it in about one hour a week. The Prime Minister created a whole new portfolio and the honourable member was made Minister for Services and Property. I am told on good authority that the Minister has so little to do in this portfolio that often his staff brings him a broom so that he can sweep out some of his offices to keep him busily employed during the day.

Mr Daly - Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is it in order for the Minister to admit publicly that he only worked for an hour a week when he was a Minister?

Mr NIXON - With great respect, I am no longer a Minister. However, it is in order for me to admit publicly that I could handle all matters related to services and property in a couple of hours a week while as Minister for the Interior I dealt with policy matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and other aspects of the Department of the Interior.

Let us consider now the situation of the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson). He and the Minister for Services and Property had great dreams of what they would do if they were in government. The Minister for Northern Development when in Opposition made tremendously strong speeches about primary industry. He and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) were great rivals for the portfolio of Minister for Primary Industry. Indeed it was a matter of much comment, concern and interest in the Australian Press following the elections as to who would secure this important portfolio. But who got it? A cabin boy from Tasmania got it - someone no-one had ever heard of before. He admitted quite frankly that he could not tell a merino from a corriedale. Primary industry organisations throughout Australia have been suffering ever since. We have yet to hear from the Minister for

Northern Development in his capacity as such. We hear of great rumbles in the Cabinet room and of how he will stand everybody up. We hear that he will do over the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) in the Cabinet room yet the next day the newspapers report that the great, big trundling Minister for Minerals and Energy has trundled tie little Minister for Northern Development right out of the road. The Minister for Northern Development is like Freddie Daly who sweeps the dust from the offices within his Department.

What a great collection of Ministers we and the nation are faced with on the front bench opposite. What the Australian public did not bank on was a hotchpotch collection of Ministers. I would have appreciated, as would many people have appreciated, the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) being given a portfolio. He is a genuine, hard working member. And what of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross)? He even had the Prime Minister's nod as a prospective Minister, but he had no such luck. I look around and see other worthy members, including the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh). He has made many powerful speeches about the shipbuilding industry. But consider the decline in the Australian shipbuilding industry. Since the change of Government the Evans Deakin shipyard cannot get an order. Ships are being imported. The Australian National Line has been given permission to import a vessel. As for the news of last week, it is a wonder that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) can sit in this chamber knowing that the 'Straitsman' - an Australian-built ship which cost $1.2m of hard earned Australian money - is to be tied up at the dock whilst the Australian Labor Government in cohorts with the Tasmanian Government brings in an imported ship to handle the trade. What a travesty of justice! What sheer hypocrisy from those members opposite who for so long have espoused the great cause of Australian nationalism.

Mr Fairbairn - They will bring in Dutchbuilt destroyers.

Mr NIXON - The latest yarn is that they will bring in Dutch-built destroyers which may well be better than Australian-built destroyers. Again, this is sheer hypocrisy. How the honourable member for Wilmot, a man of the cloth and a sincere, hard working member, can tolerate that proposition is beyond me. It amazes me that he and the honourable member for Braddon can sit quietly without speaking on this important matter. Their consciences were so stirred in the last Parliament that night after night when I was Minister for Shipping and Transport I was under continuous attack from them. I received constant deputations from them pleading with me not to put Australian seamen out of work and not to tie up Australian ships but to find a way to remedy the situation so that the Australianbuilt ship, the 'Straitsman', could handle the job.

Much more could be said about these matters. All I can say is that the people of Australia have been totally deluded. When I see the collection of hotchpotch Ministers that the Prime Minister has had to appoint to a variety of portfolios I feel sorry for the people of Australia. It really hurts me to think that when they wake up and read their morning newspapers they see statements by the clown from Riverina. We have heard no statements as yet from the Minister for Northern Development. We look forward to the day when he will introduce a great policy for northern development. We have had 100 days of so-called action from the Government, but not one word and not one policy decision from the Minister for Northern Development.

Mr Whittorn - All he has is sugar.

Mr NIXON - I do not think he has made a statement on sugar. When all is said and done that really is the only matter he has to handle in his portfolio. Everything else has been pinched off him by the plaguing Ministers around him. The poor Minister for Northern Development. The only consolation he has is that, as he himself says, he gets the money.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 28th March 1973.

House adjourned at 11' p.m.

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