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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2350

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) - I think the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) let the cat out of the bag when he made 2 statements. The first one - he was immediately challenged by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) - was when he said that the yield or return on the bonds will probably be low. In other words, he gave a clear indication that the investment on behalf of the subscribers might not be to their satisfaction and that unless a subsidy was given the inducement would be too low and there would be little or no contribution to the bonds themselves. He went a stage further to indicate why. We were led to believe until today that the very purpose of these bonds was to ensure that money would be subscribed and would be satisfactorily invested and that the people would get a return on those investments which would more than repay them, one which would be much better than an investment in a unit trust or some other kind of investment. But what he said is that a large section of the funds would be put - use the word 'investment' if you like - but I cannot call it investment - in national development projects in which there is no return whatsoever to the people who provide the funds. For this reason he wanted to give a subsidy.

That was supported by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) himself, whose words must be taken as clear and absolute. He said that one of the main areas in which investment was to take place was in urban areas. In other words he was saying that the funds would be invested in such areas as urban and regional development, which concerns the building up of local areas where people can get out of the central areas of the metropolis and be able to carry on their occupations, if necessary supported by some kind of government activity, and be able to live their lives and have their children educated and looked after without having to live in the somewhat suffocating atmosphere of a great metropolitan centre such as Rome or some other continental part of the world. We have to realise, and the Australian people have to realise, that they now have life offices which can in fact invest their money for these purposes. In the large majority of cases they are mutual offices capable of going overseas and fighting the great international corporations overseas and beating them too.

Mr Keating - We are not complaining about that.

Mr McMAHON - Then why destroy them?

Mr Keating - We are not going to destroy them.

Mr McMAHON - Of course you are. You do not like to admit it. But I am glad that I have got under your skin to the point that at long last a weakness, a chink has been found in your armour. I think that we have shown pretty conclusively that there is no gap that needs to be filled. We have found that the reason for this legislation is to get into the infrastructures of great national development projects.

Mr Keating - What is wrong with that?

Mr McMAHON - It gives no return to the people whose money is involved, who have earned it, who have saved it and who have every right to get the biggest return they can get for their savings.

Mr Keating - You presided over the sellout.

Mr McMAHON - Show how agitated you get. The more agitated you get the more it will show how sensitive you are to what you have done. The Opposition objects to all the clauses to which I have referred - 3. (3) (a) (ii), 3. (3) (b) (ii) and 3. (4) (b). We will divide in the House against these clauses.

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