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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 1025

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I was interested for a moment in what the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) has just said about Caucus and the Government. The Government is said to practice open government. We have not yet had officially open Caucus, although I understand that from time to time there is an occasional leak from that secret body. It is surprising that the Minister can talk about democratic control when it is not very long ago that we had a 2-man government. Decisions are made apparently by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) without even telling members of his Cabient. It is only a couple of days ago, or I think even yesterday, that the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns), who is unhappily outside Australia, complained that the first thing he knew about decisions that affected his own portfolio was through the Press. They were not even told to him; he had to learn through the public media. There is a certain amount of chaos about this because decisions are announced by the Prime Minister as being Cabient decisions and people act on them, and then it is found that they are not decisions at all. Why does the Prime Minister not say: T have done this, subject to Caucus'? He does not say that. Perhaps it did not matter in regard to an airport at Galston when he made a decision and a decision was announced.

Mr Enderby - Cabinet made the decision.

Mr WENTWORTH - He made a decision. Cabinet made the decision; he announced the decision on behalf of Cabinet, if you like to put it like that. Then it was found that although it had been announced as a decision it was not a decision at all. It did not matter perhaps in regard to Galston because that decision was capable of being reversed without so much loss to people. In fact in this matter, as with the means test, I am glad that I have been able to give a lead to the Labor Caucus, because that Labor Caucus adopted very substantially what I had brought forward in this House during an adjournment debate just before the last recess about a fortnight ago. I was not in the Labor Caucus but I am glad that it took my advice. It adopted a policy which I was able to put forward in regard to the means test. But I will let that go.

I come to the matter of interest rates. Apparently the Prime Minister announced a decision. 1 am not certain that it was a Cabinet decision. Apparently it was taken by the Prime Minister or two or three Ministers without consulting the Cabinet. It was announced as a decision. It caused immense movements in the market. Then we were told that it was not really a decision at all because Caucus was going to override it. This sort of chaos in government simply cannot be permitted because it is not to the advantage of Australia. We have to know where we are. However, I say these things in passing.

Mr Enderby - It is the Fuhrer princip

Mr WENTWORTH - Yes. At least we have a Fuhrer who makes the noise of a Fuhrer, but he does not have the resolution of one. This is the worst of both worlds. However, I let that pass. I really got to my feet to say something about the remarks passed earlier in this adjournment debate by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James).

Mr Martin - About 'Swan Lake'?

Mr WENTWORTH - Yes, about 'Swan Lake'. I was a little puzzled about this. I do not know whether I should refer to the honourable member as the honourable and learned member for Hunter. At least he has some knowledge of the law. But it is rather strange that he should bring forward a matter like this in the House which can be decided in the courts. He spoke of things being illegal. That was his phrase. Yet apparently the courts have not decided them. As he said in the House, he was not clear on his facts. He said that these are things about which he is not clear. He said that he did not know them exactly. Yet he brought them forward. They are matters which the courts have to decide. If he is absolutely clear about them he can bring them in as a matter for the Government to look at and refer to the courts. But if he is unclear about them surely it is not the function of an honourable member to use the adjournment debate for this purpose. It is much better for him to be in touch with the Minister concerned. He will thus avoid doing an injustice in relation to a matter about which he is not clear. I say that without trying to prejudice the matter at all. I had not heard of it until the honourable member brought it forward tonight.

But let me say these things on the matter of principle: I think it is only quite recently that the Soviet Union adhered to copyright. Until fairly recently it pirated copyright as a matter of public policy. In a sense the Soviet Union does not come into this country with clean hands in this matter because of its own past history. But where is the copyright? This is a matter of some legal consequence. Obviously the Russian Ballet has some kind of copyright on its own performance, but has the Soviet Union paid copyright to the originators or has it, in accordance with its practice, pirated the copyright of the originators? If it wants copyright on its performances has it paid copyright to the choreographers? Has it paid copyright to the originators? This brings me to the more important thing which I wanted to say. It is quite pathetic that the art forms of the Soviet Union all relate to the past. The Soviet Union seems incapable of producing significant new work. If it does - as in the case of Solzhenitsyn, for example - it represses and censors out of existence those who are most productive of artistic work inside its own border. But generally speaking the art forms which the Russians are trying to bring forward as Soviet art forms are the forms of the past. I mention the Russian ballet - an old imperial form - Russian art, Russian novels and even chess. The Russians profess to excel in chess. The socialist system is a grey system which cannot give satisfaction to its own people, lt is incapable of producing from itself new art - the new forms which are lively and show that in itself it is a satisfactory system. This surely is typical of all Soviet systems.

We heard today, for example, of the glories of Chinese acupuncture. That is an old art; it is not something the Chinese communists have produced. It is being peddled in Australia as some kind of evidence of the glories of Chinese communism. That is not so. If it be worth anything it is due to the glories of the system which the Chinese communists supplanted. Art does not flourish in a socialist setting. This is one of the things which can be said against all kinds of socialism. It is grey; it is unsatisfactory; it is against the quality of life; it is sterile. The fact is that the Russians, in their attempts to persuade us of the glories of Soviet culture, all the time have to go back to pre-Soviet days in order to have something to put in their showcase to show to the world.

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