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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 490

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I refer him to his 1977 policy speech where he said:

We have ended the big tax rip oft".

Will the petrol tax increases in this year's Budget bring the total payments for an average Australian household to $900 per annum? Would an Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries price rise in December of this year similar to the one last year add at least another $50 a household to this figure? When will the Prime Minister end the tax rip-off?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The honourable member for Blaxland indicated in a Press article earlier this year - if the honourable gentleman has not seen it I will give him the reference to it a little later today - that under the kind of tax on oil companies and whatever that a Labor government would institute it would collect more money than this Government collects from the levy. He went on to say that it would mean nothing--

Mr Young - I raise a point of order.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - He cannot take it, once again. Poor old Mick. He did not want it--

Mr Young - Even though I am only an unfinancial Catholic, I cannot sit in Parliament and hear the Prime Minister tell untruths.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable gentleman is not making a point of order.

Mr Young - His statement is just not true. He can go and get the clipping and look at it. He should send some of his people out to look at it. That is just not true. Will he please tell the truth.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I will not tolerate from the honourable member for Port Adelaide another interjection which he knows is an argument, not a point of order. That is not a point of order and the honourable gentleman well knows it. If he does it again I shall have to deal with him immediately.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I do so with respect for the difficult position you are in. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister has decided that, rather than face the facts and be candid about issues which are raised in Parliament today, because of the obvious embarrassment that would cause him--

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman is making an argument.

Mr Hayden - No, I am putting a proposition to you.

Mr SPEAKER -I ask the honourable gentleman to put the point of order.

Mr Hayden - He has decided to embark upon a provocative course of plain dishonesty. In the course of this he is prepared to pave his way to the polls with dishonesty.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition has used a term and accusation which he knows is unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker,of course I will withdraw it. I recognise how difficult it is for you. Any of the passion generated from this side of the House is not directed towards you.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman stood to make a point of order. I ask the honourable gentleman to make his point of order.

Mr Hayden - I must raise a point of procedure and decorum with you. The Prime Minister is converting the House into low farce with his behaviour. We can ask a question. We are tightly restricted, as you know, as to the length of the question, the relevance of the matter and the content of the matter, but a Minister can range as widely as he wants and be as irrelevant as he wants and, quite frankly, be--

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is not correct. He must be relevant.

Mr Hayden - I would suggest otherwise because this afternoon we had an instance where you ruled that a part of a question directed to the Prime Minister was out of order and then he proceeded to answer it and you accepted that situation. The other ingredient of the Prime Minister's behaviour is that it lacks substance in fact. Uncouth people would say that it was dishonest. I would refrain from making such a statement.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Hayden - I am putting it to you squarely, Mr Speaker, that, if this House is to conduct itself properly, respect will have to be extended to the Prime Minister from this side.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Hayden - He will attract that only by a decency of conduct that he has never displayed. He lacks legitimacy in this place.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition's behaviour in stating those words is unwarranted. In particular, I say that I ruled part of a question out of order because that part of it was out of order under the Standing Orders. The part to which the Prime Minister replied was relevant to the other parts of the question which were in order. The honourable gentleman, allegedly in raising a point of order, has been most disrespectful to the Chair. He also prevaricated with the Chair. It has been my practice to give the honourable--

Mr Hayden - I am sorry. Could you repeat that word? I did not catch it. I have a hearing defect and honourable members know it.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman has in fact spoken in a fashion which I am not prepared to accept. I know that an election is coming up. I know that political points will be made in the House. But, despite that fact, I am determined that the House will act with decorum. I ask the honourable gentleman not to make a point which purports to be a point of order but which is not.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker,I raise--

Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order.

Mr Hayden - I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, in your own terminology you have accused me of prevaricating. I refer you to Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 19th edition, page 445. The 'Appendix of Unparliamentary Expressions' states that prevaricating is one such expression. I ask you to withdraw.

Mr SPEAKER -I would be very happy to withdraw.

Mr Hayden - Thank you.

Mr SPEAKER -I hope that I will hear the Leader of the Opposition complying with the rules of the House with the same clarity as I have. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - When members of the Australian Labor Party find some facts which they do not like because they contradict other things they say, they make charges of falsehood against other people when it is they themselves who are telling the falsehood. I have here the extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of an interview with Mr Keating. In answer to a question he stated:

No. The debate about resources taxes doesn't matter much to the motorist at all.

What can that mean except that the motorist is going to have to pay the same, no matter what?

Mr Scholes -Mr Speaker,I take a point of order.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The honourable gentleman would be well advised to keep--

Mr SPEAKER -The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Scholes -Mr Speaker,I take a point of order. This text has been quoted before in this Parliament--

Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order.

Mr Scholes - And has been subject to correction by the honourable member who, because of ill health, cannot be here.

Mr SPEAKER - That may have happened. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Scholes - The Prime Minister knowingly pursues an untrue statement.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Mr Keatingwent on to say:

What does matter is if, over time, the resources tax does collect more than the levy - and I expect it will.

That is perfectly plain. He is saying that a resource tax in the oil area will collect more than the levy and that it is not going to matter much to the motorist. What can that mean except that the whole approach by the Labor Party to oil policy and pricing is a total and absolute fraud? We have a policy of world parity pricing for very good and sufficient reasons. We have that policy because, if we use up Bass Strait reserves, making it comfortable--

Mr Holding - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The quotation that the Prime Minister is using is a matter which has been subject to correction by an honourable member in this House. It is a matter of--

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat. I must point out to the House that what is being raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is an argument in contradiction. It is not a point of order. Under the Standing Orders 1 can permit a point of order but not an argument in contradiction. The honourable gentleman is saying that what the right honourable gentleman has quoted has been corrected by the honourable member for Blaxland. There is no point of order.

Mr Holding - With respect, that is not the argument I was going to put to you.

Mr SPEAKER -If the honourable gentleman will put his point of order, I will hear it.

Mr Holding - The way I was going to put it was that, if the Prime Minister or any other honourable member uses a quotation which has been the subject of a personal explanation to this House and does so with that knowledge, the honourable member who uses it in that way must be deliberately misleading the House, in which case under the Standing Orders you, Sir, should point that out to the honourable member concerned and ask him not to continue in that way. You have a duty to see that the House is not misled--

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Holding - And the Prime Minister is deliberately misleading the House.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable member will resume his seat immediately. It is not for the Chair to decide whether an honourable member is misleading the House. It is for the House to decide that question. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Mr Speaker, I have just been handed another quote, I think from the same article headed 'Oil: Better Deal under Labor?' by Ross Gittins. The interviewer asked:

Would the resources tax raise more or less than the oil production levy?

The answer was:

I think it would probably raise more.

Mr Baillieu - Who said that?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Oh, that is Mr Keating. That is established firmly and plainly. The Opposition has said that the oil resource tax would collect more and it would not mean much to the motorist. Honourable gentlemen can draw their own conclusions about that.

We have an oil parity pricing policy for very clear and sufficient reasons. It is encouraging conservation of a scarce resource. It is encouraging the search for additional supplies. The Esso-BHP consortium alone has committed itself to $ 1 ,200m of additional exploration and development. The policy is also promoting the development of great shale oil deposits such as Rundle in Queensland that we hope will be the first of many. The pilot stage is to go ahead. The objective is to make sure that we get shale oil out of Rundle and other shale oil projects in Queensland at about the time Bass Strait production starts to run down, thus maintaining a degree of self-sufficiency and independence for Australia.

It would be very easy for us - this generation of Australians - to take the view: 'Bass Strait is there; let's use it up cheaply'. But that would be a very short-sighted view. It would mean that our kids would have to make adjustments much harsher than any we are trying to make today. It would be a totally selfish policy. It would be a policy for today, ignoring the needs of building a better and a more secure country which must maintain its independence in these matters if that is at all possible. Policies which will bring on alternative sources of supply will achieve those objectives in a very realistic way.

The policy is working. The consumption of these fuels is diminishing. There is greater exploration for additional oil and gas and alternatives are starting to come on stream as a result of the policies that we have put in place. I am quite sure that the overwhelming majority of Australians, wherever they may be, will support a policy that looks after the interests of their children rather than one that is just as selfish as the proposal to promote a 35-hour week at the expense of the unemployed.

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