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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2193

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honourable member who has just interjected has really hit the nail on the head. Private enterprise has failed many times. The risk capital that goes into development - thus far in Australia and certainly in the older countries of the world - has been the real means of achieving development. This has not been taxpayers' money administered by a public servant who is not answerable in the same way as are those who are prepared to take a risk through private enterprise. As the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) so rightly says: This is the point of the matter.

Private enterprise will take risks and those who are responsible must take the rap. But a public corporation is quite different from a government body. No public servant will have his head lopped off because he has made mistakes. It may well be said that in private enterprise those who happen to make a wrong decision are not completely destroyed. But, there at least the situation is that answers must be given as to why a decision was wrong. At least in private enterprise success or failure is measured to determine whether more funds will be poured down the drain or a cut off point determined before such action is too late. If we look at the examples of what has occurred in the kind of administration that was set up for a great public corporation in the United Kingdom - this was certainly well described earlier in the debate - a clear warning is spelt out to the Australian nation not to allow this sort of thing to happen.

The honourable member for Diamond Valley made an appeal for the House to agree to the passage of this Bill and for the Senate to support it also. I am sure that he will be disappointed - and rightly so. Australia cannot afford at this time in its history and at this stage of its development the luxury of this kind of massive socialist experiment. I think that it was the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) who said that $4,000m had flowed out of this country. He used that figure in an attempt to prove a point. But he failed to recognise and to tell the rest of the story. If he was prepared at the same time to introduce in this debate clear figures as to Australia's development in that same period we would see the relationship of his assertion to what in truth are the real facts of the matter.

In my short lifetime, I can remember when the Australian population was fewer than 7 million. Today the population is double that figure. If we consider also the growth of the economic capacity of this nation, the development of industry and the tremendous efforts of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government to give Australia some basic industry, to give Australia's work force opportunities and to give Australian consumers the chance to buy Australian first and to develop the nation, the record is a pretty good one. It certainly is misleading to sell that record down the drain by saying that we have allowed $4,000m of our wealth to flow out of this country. What complete hypocrisy it is to criticise the Australian community in this way. That claim' simply is not true. If the facts are assessed as they ought to be assessed it will be seen that those economists and others who support the socialist assertion in this matter are doing a great disservice to their fellow Australians. They should tell the whole truth in this matter. Then, a measure of this kind might be more properly assessed, debated and understood by the Australian community.

Australia has a proud record of development. We have had until now a record second to none in terms of stability of economy, government, administration, opportunities, ways and means and progress. 'Is this record to be sold down the drain by the socialist concepts of this Labor Government, which is bent on redistributing wealth, as has been said so often recently in this session? In the course of redistributing wealth, will the opportunity be taken from the small man to share in that wealth? Will that wealth be put into some great pool so that everyone may dip in regardless of whether they have made a contribution or whether they are prepared by dint of hard work and persistency in their particular calling to make a contribution? Is this what redistribution of wealth means? Of course it does. The Labor Government wishes to put all available financial resources into one great pool regardless of how it does so.

Let me refer specifically to the proposition on the creation of finance for the proposed operations of the AIDC. It is clearly indicated that, in order to make a massive raid on Australia's available capital resources, pressure will be put first on life assurance companies. I think that the Minister for Overseas Trade might have nodded his head partly in agreement. I think that he is keen to do this. Of course he is keen to do it. He knows that this is just one avenue in which pressure can be applied because the resources are there, the cash is there. They exist because the Australian community - not the wealthy people - has built up really worthwhile resources in terms of finance. I refer to the ordinary policy holder in any of the recognised life assurance companies. These people have invested in order to provide some security for their families.

What do we find today? A very clear picture is presented of reductions in bonuses this financial year because of the impost of increased taxation in excess of $40m. We are informed in this measure that the Government proposes to alter the present rules so that a greater proportion of those funds might be directed into the Corporation. Incentive for investment in a special form of bonds is to be offered to try to attract money into this pool. In addition, a taxation concession is to be granted. What will be the consequence of this action? Any benefit gained on the one hand will be lost on the other. It is a case of the money being taken out of one pocket and put into the other. In the process opportunities for the proper growth of these organisations, particularly the life assurance offices which have been so important in the development of Australia, will be reduced. Something will be taken away from them to enable this socialist experiment to proceed on its merry way. If that is good government, I have a lot to learn. It would be the worst form of double crossing of the Australian community that one could possibly produce. Yet, here is this Government obviously proud of its action.

We should look at many other features of the Bill and particularly the extent to which the AIDC can become all-embracing in terms of the Government's attitude and policy to industry. I think in terms of primary industry specifically. I am certainly concerned, as I know others in this House are concerned, about this aspect. People outside as they begin to understand what this all means are becoming concerned also. We will find developing very quickly a situation in which those with no expertise at all will begin to apply themselves through this instrumentality to direct and to set the rules in terms of what ought to happen in industry.

Let us take primary industry. Two years ago any proposition for assistance to primary industry would have been measured against the then ruling world prices of wool, wheat, meat and all the other commodities and the answer would have been: 'No, you cannot do it; it is not a viable proposition'. It would also have been said: 'No, you should not assist these industries because the best thing to do for them in the light of their prospects in the immediate period ahead is to get rid of them, pay them out, sack them and get rid of the lot'. Here we are, 24 months later, with an entirely different situation. Of course, the Minister for Overseas Trade professes to be so skilled in these matters-

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