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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2266

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) (Minister for Secondary Industry, Minister for Supply and Minister for the Northern Territory) - I rise to support these 2

Bills because I believe, and 1 put it to the House, that they are 2 of the most important pieces of legislation yet to be presented by this Government to the House. When anything imaginative, anything that will serve the interests of all Australians, is put forward by this Government, one can predictably expect that opposition - irrational, abusive opposition - will come from the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. A good example of this can be seen in what has hapapened in the last 10 minutes. In the last 10 minutes we have seen the one and only wish of members of the Opposition being fulfilled, namely, an intention to delay, an intention to frustrate, an intention to block. Yesterday speakers from the Liberal Party and the Country Party waffled all over the place taking up time. Indeed the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) was as much a culprit in this regard as was anyone. He spoke about a groundnut scheme and told legal stories. He is a good friend of mine, but he contributed nothing to the debate. All he did was block and frustrate. Not a single constructive thought came through from the Opposition. Not even a thought,, constructive or otherwise, came through. All we got from the Opposition was a manifest intention that these measures -which are designed to overcome an ever increasing social mischief in the country are to be blocked at 'all times. They are to be delayed here and then the Opposition will use whatever influence or power it has in the Senate perhaps to emasculate the Bills or do something else because members of the Opposition are the defenders of privilege, the defenders of wealth and the enemies of the average Australian who wants to share in progress and the ever increasing amount of wealth that is being produced in this country.

This Government believes in enterprise. It believes in private enterprise and in public enterprise. The hypocrisy comes from the Liberal and Country Parties when their members use such expressions, such euphemisms as 'private enterprise'. They do not believe in any such thing at all, because they know -that pure competition in this sense no longer exists in this country because of the neglect on their part during a period of 23 years. A concentration of economic power has taken place in this country. Sometimes it is in this country but all too often it is given into the hands of overseas owners of wealth. We all know this, and indeed it was to the credit of Sir John McEwen when he was in this Parliament that he recognised what was happening. Back in 1970 he was able to establish the Australian Industry Development Corporation - a beginning on which this Government is now building - so that all Australians can share in Australia's wealth. A lot of nonsense has been talked during the course of the speeches so Par - it can hardly be called a debate in view of what has been coming from the other side - to the effect that this legislation will bring about nationalisation by stealth and will result in a takeover bid on behalf of some giant colossus, some giant public corporation. The AIDC, as everyone who reads the Bill knows, will only be as good as the people of Australia make it, because it will raise money and compete in the market to marshal funds to buy back Australia, the Australia that in large measure was sold by people in the Liberal Party and people in the Country Party to overseas interests. Sir John McEwen recognised this when he established the AIDC back in 1970.

Misrepresentation has also occurred in the reference by the Opposition from time to time that in some way - I recall the honourable member for Moreton saying it - the Minister who would be responsible for the AIDC would have a great discretion. He has a discretion but it is a very limited discretion, and I invite honourable members to reflect on it, because it is contained in the Bill. It is to be found at the bottom of page 4. It is only if, after having received a report in pursuance of the Bill in relation to any enterprise or project, the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the national interest that the Australian Government should facilitate the provision of finance by the Corporation in relation to an enterprise or project or assist the Corporation to engage or participate in the enterprise or project, that he may, with the concurrence of the Treasurer, give such guarantee as will enable the Corporation to provide finance or to do what it wants to do, or out of the moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose he may make payments to the Corporation.

It has been said wrongly and mischievously - wickedly perhaps - that this will not involve the Parliament. What nonsense. Of course it will involve the Parliament. Every time such a proposition is considered it will presumably and properly be the subject of debate in this place. If it were not clear from the existing Bill - and I suggest that it is - the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has indicated already to make it even clearer - clear enough even for members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party to understand - that amendments will be moved to put the position beyond doubt so that every time a proposition of this sort is contemplated it will be brought into this Parliament so that it can be debated and made the subject of examination. Is that not what this legislation is all about? We arc seeking to legislate against the concentration of economic power that has taken place in the country, power that is not accountable to the public at the present stage. There is no degree of Australian participation in it because the concentration is taking place all the time. As that great American publicist and politician of some years ago, Estes Kefauver, once said, the wealth and the power are these days in too few hands. This legislation seeks to make accountability through this Parliament so that if a decision is to be made, if money is to be appropriated, if a guarantee is to be given, the matter will be presented to this Parliament, where it can be debated. That surely puts the whole issue beyond doubt. In the short time that we have left-

Mr Turner - That you have left.

Mr ENDERBY - That is right. Who wasted the time yesterday with all that nonsense? This measure will go into the great list of Labor Party achievements. It will join the Commonwealth Bank; it will join the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority; it will join TransAustralia Airlines - all the great examples of public enterprise, every one of them opposed at one time or another by the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Members of those parties have never supported anything of substance in this Parliament. They have always opposed such measures in the interests of the people who basically support them. It is easy to sec why they should do so. It is because, as has been so often said in this Parliament in recent days, they have been receiving funds from those interests. The parties now in Opposition dismantled the Commonwealth Oil Refinery. We created the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Commonwealth Bank, back in the old days. We hope to set up the Australian Industries Commission. This measure will go down in the list of great achievements of the Whitlam Labor Government. That is why honourable members opposite are opposed to it. That is why they are shouting. They have no argument. They simply say: 'Stop them. Frustrate the Government. Delay it as long as possible while we marshal our funds from the people who are buying out this country - the multi-national foreign dominated corporations.'

When the legislation was introduced in 1970 to set up the Australian Industry Development Corporation Sir John McEwen said: 'It will give us an opportunity to buy back the farm'. He used a highly emotive expression that has since been criticised but he went on to say that the performance of the previous Government was not good enough in letting the economy progressively run down, making ends meet by allowing a little bit of the farm to be sold off every week or every month. The cry was: 'Sell off the farm'. This measure was designed to allow Australians to contribute to funds to marshal the capital and wealth - to buy Australia back. Predictably, as sure as day follows night the people who are now in Opposition opposed it. It threatened what they stand for. They have nothing to offer. They opposed the measure in their Party rooms back in 1970. One honourable member opposite said yesterday that considerable misgivings were entertained even then. That was because they did not want the farm bought back for the benefit of Australians. They had misgivings that Australians should own their own country, but the majority in the present Opposition parties outvoted the opponents of the measure because they saw that a storm was rapidly approaching. This Government is now taking the logical and natural steps to put it right.

In the short time left to me I want to quote some remarks on this subject by Sir Alan Westerman - one of Australia's current crop of great Australians. He is not a politician. He was appointed by the previous Government. In a speech to the Victorian section of the Australian Institute of Management Sir Alan Westerman said that the Australian Industry Development Corporation - as it is, unreformed and unchanged - was currently operating under restrictions which, while valid when the Corporation was established, had become nonsense. It is to cure that situation that the Government has introduced this Bill. Sir Alan went on:

You could say that I understand the reasons for the proposed changes, relating as they do to the practical day to day business of the Corporation. They are changes which indicate a close understanding of the experiences of AIDC since it was established. Also, the Government has not come out with anything which is not right in our ball park.

Sir Alanstated that he did not believe that the changes altered the basic philosophy of AIDC, except for the provision which would require it to support in the national interest certain projects which it felt could not be undertaken on commercial grounds. That situation is to be changed by the amending legislation. Sir Alan Westerman made certain points in his address. He said, for example, that the original restriction which required AIDC to borrow principally from overseas was first put in because of the scarcity of funds in Australia b.:t it had tended to become nonsense now that we are embarrassed by the amount of funds already here. But those funds are not being put to the uses that the Australian people require. In the same speech Sir Alan went on to say in replying- to questions - and this sums up the whole position - that the Government's policies were in effect increasing the horsepower of AIDC and adding to its fuel tank. It is an emotive description that we might not accept ourselves but it is the view of one of the current great Australians who is familiar with the problem. He was associated with AIDC from its beginning and recognises the merit of the current proposals being put before this Parliament for implementation.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!The time allotted for the second reading debate has expired.

Question put -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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