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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1270

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - I have known the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) for a number of years. I believe I know him well enough to say that the honourable gentleman will not sit down and sulk if I excuse myself from replying to his speech in particular. But I listened to the honourable gentleman with what I. hope he would describe as, customary courtesy.

Mr Stewart - Rapt attention.

Mr KILLEN - No, not rapt attention. There was an odd burst of boredom here and there but I listened with courtesy. A lot. of what he said, of course, would meet with approval everywhere in this House. I would cull out but one argument which the honourable gentleman advanced in the matter of education to say something about, and that is the matter of State assistance - describe it how you will. Looking at the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) I would have hardly described him as being the most boisterous supporter of aid for independent schools, but I thought the honourable gentleman was almost going to have a fit. But then somebody came along and hit him with what I suspect was a tranquillising dart and no fit came upon us. It was a great speech that came from the honourable member for Lang but I am wondering if I may remind him of the fact that a few years ago there descended upon the politics of France a gentleman rejoicing in the name of M. Poujade. He had a simple but sturdy policy - the abolition of all taxation. M. Poujade had a colourful but regrettably very brief career in French politics, but this is the point, this is what I want to talk about as far as this Budget is concerned. We can pick out from both sides of the House or - if you will excuse the metaphore - from the semicircle of th House, ideas galore and they are all fine, but they all call for money. I do not know whether I was nurtured in a peculiar school - I want to put honourable members at complete ease and at the point of utter advantage as far as I am concerned - possibly it was an odd school but I am convinced of one thing, and I think the Australian people have got to come back to this: There is nothing, but nothing, in this world that one can get for nothing.

Mr Birrell - What about the measles?

Mr KILLEN - This is very, very true, but you might happen to get the mumps; just think of that. I want to say something about the Budget, and in particular about the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Budget as a Bill provides for an expenditure - and I hope honourable members will forgive me quoting figures-

Mr Cohen - So unlike you.

Mr KILLEN - Quoting figures 1 said, nothing else. The Bill provides for an expenditure of S8,654m.

Mr James - A fair bit of sugar.

Mr KILLEN - Now look, Bluey. The grants to the States will account for $2,93 lm, social services - taking in repatriation and health - $2,095m, and defence $l,252m. If we add the 3 items together they come to $6,278m. It does not sound very much citing it like that, but I just want to put it in this form.

Mr Fitzpatrick - Where is the money coming from?

Mr KILLEN - 1 am indebted to the honourable gentleman for his interjection. Those 3 items, grants to the States, social services and defence account for 72 per cent of Budget expenditure. To put it in sharper terms, for every $1 which the Government proposes to spend 72c will come under those 3 headings. I leave to one side the remaining 28c. I just want to ask my honourable friends opposite would they cut back on the grants to the States. There is a deafening silence. Of course they would not cut back. Indeed, if honourable members opposite were to listen to the speech of their Leader, and occasion ally some of them did - 1 suspect by accident - he would kick it up. As far as social services is concerned-

Mr Charles Jones - Who is your leader?

Mr KILLEN - At feast we do not follow him out of curiosity. As far as social services are concerned - taking, for example, the speech of the honourable member for Lang - the Opposition would boost expenditure on them. What about defence? I suppose all of us in our hearts would like to think that one day we will arrive at the stage when not a cracker will be spent on defence. But is that day yet within our reach? I suspect it is not. These are the 3 items and they account for 72c out of every $1 we spend. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment. In a general sense it seeks, as I say, to spend more money. That is a proposition which is pretty easily tested. For example, he calls for a fundamental review of social services. 1 would put this view to honourable members opposite-

Mr Collard - That is what the Prime Minister said.

Mr KILLEN - Contain yourself, please, I am not going to hurt you. I would gaily walk down Queen Street, Brisbane, with you any day of the week.

Mr Collard - No queen streets with you, lad.

Mr KILLEN - You have a far keener perception than I was ever prepared to venture. The second thing the Leader of the Opposition calls for, in his own language, is a balance of the finances of States and local government. And then, of course, he concluded the amendment with a splendid lament. Honourable members have read it, and it should be carved in granite. He said that the Budget produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength or national security. That is a splendid aggregation of slogans. But no person I am sure, least of all the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), would gainsay the fact that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition calls for more money to be spent. I readily concede this: In political terms the speech of the Leader of the Opposition last week, or a week ago, or a fortnight ago - time becomes a little irrelevant in this place does it not?

Mr Cohen - In your case, yes.

Mr KILLEN - At least I will be no unhappy anachronism such as the honourable member for Robertson.

Mr Kennedy - Try to be relevant.

Mr KILLEN - Well, I will. Look, if a seminal idea ever entered the mind of the honourable member it would be a plain case of promiscuity. The Leader of the Opposition made a superb political speech. lt was worth votes galore. As I sat here his speech had charm and sweetness and it was alluring. One found it difficult to resist. If one closed one's eyes the Leader of the Opposition's speech could almost send one out one's mind. I know that some honourable members might say that I had not far to go but that is a matter of opinion. The honourable gentleman reminded me tremendously of the siren on the rock. It is all very fine for him to describe my distinguished leader as Tiberius on the telephone. But there he was. the siren on the rock and his singing was absolutely superb in terms of getting votes.

I want to say to the Prime Minister and to the Government - bless them, and I mean that in an ecclesiastical sense, too - to look in terms of the electorate they have to outdo, they have to surpass, the music of Orpheus. I am not suggesting to the Prime Minister that he should follow Odysseus and tie himself to the mast; nor am I suggesting that he should plug up the ears of his followers with wax; but I am saying to the Government that in sheer political terms the moment of truth has arrived when the policies of the Opposition - of the Leader of the Opposition - must be identified for what they are - thoroughly spendthrift. This has to be made quite clear.

Mr Hurford - Are you happy with your taxation system?

Mr KILLEN - Well, you know, the brisk fact about the amendment moved by your leader is that he did not venture one proposal to cut back any expenditure whatsoever. Not one. What the honourable gentleman in fact called for was for more government expenditure in every imaginable field. We can take a lot of examples. I refer to a conspicuous one, when he spoke about what he was pleased to describe as the negative Liberal attitude to the federal system; the Liberal inability to operate that system. There are 2 clear inferences there. The first one is that he has an affection and regard for the federal system. That would be the joke of the year, would it not? I want to say to Sir Henry Bolte that if he falls for what the Leader of the Opposition says, being one of the most devoted supporters of the federal system, he will turn up at Rosehill on Saturday with the expectation of picking every winner, and I do not think that is on.

The second inference is this: That the honourable gentleman is quite prepared to spend more money. The fact of the matter is that the Australian Labor Party is dedicated to the destruction of the federal system. For my part, I do not want to embarrass any of my colleagues. There are some who sit in the State parliaments and some indeed who sit in this Parliament who want to refight the battle of federation. That is a battle that was fought and won 70-odd years ago and they want to fight it again today. But the colonies became the States under the compact of federation. However, the Leader of the Opposition is dedicated to destroying the federal system. The other inference to be drawn from what the Leader of the Opposition said in that collocation of words was that more money must be spent in the public sector. 1 want to put quickly to the House 2 short propositions, which I hope are shorn of political involvement. 1 know that this would distress honourable members opposite and 1 will tell them what they are. The first is this: The imperative in the Australian economy today is that inflation be halted. Inflation must be halted and we should not speak about it as being tolerable. This country for many years now - for 20-odd years - in my view has been trying to do too much with too few resources.

Mr Birrell - Who for?

Mr KILLEN - Ah, for the benefit of this country. I believe that the Australian economy today is very much in need of a breathing space. But every time the Government is called upon to spend more money it means that resources - material and intellectual resources as well as resources of skill and initiative - have to be diverted. Every time a member of this Parliament gets up and says that so and so should be done and that we should build a dam here or put something there -

Mr Cohen - Shove this here.

Mr KILLEN - Yes, that is right. Shove this there and it would cheer us all up if that happened to the honourable member. Every time this is done honourable members join in the clamour of contributing to the prime cause of inflation in Australia.

The second proposition that 1 put and which is allied to the first is a concomitant, of course, that the greatest single contribution to inflation in Australia is government spending. By government spending I mean Federal Government spending and State government spending. It seems to me to be an exercise in futility to implore the Federal Government to cut back its spending while at the same time the States go on their way and say: 'Look, we need more money for this and more money for that'. This brings me to the simple thesis that I want to propound. I think it is about high time that the Government - and I hope this is understood - put the axe into the immigration programme.

Opposition Members - Oh.

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