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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 809

Mr DRUMMOND (Forrest) - I find it extremely difficult to follow the previous speaker, the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls). I listened attentively and, quite truthfully, I cannot find anything in his speech worth commenting on, as should be done in a debate. It was well worked ground if ever I have heard it. So, I should like to make some comments on the broad fields of the Budget and the discussion up to date of the effects of the Budget on the future wellbeing of Australia. Firstly, I sincerely support the amendment so ably moved by my leader, the Leader of the Oppostion (Mr Snedden), on 28 August and commend him for his achievement that night.

Mr Morrison - You will get on.

Mr DRUMMOND - Thank you. I commend the Leader of the Opposition for the substance of his speech and the forthright manner in which he stated it. Personally, I am amazed at the Budget and endorse the comments made by all Opposition speakers during this debate. It is a highly inflationary Budget that blatantly takes away from the private sector to spend on the public sector at a time when inflation is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Of this there is no doubt. This has been well explained by my colleagues on this side of the House.

During this debate we have heard continually from Government supporters, in reply to our criticism of the inflationary trend of the Budget and the massive 19 per cent increase in Government spending: 'OK, what would you not have spent money on?' The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) on 29 August said:

The Premier-

He was referring to the Premier of Victoria- and the Leader of the Opposition have both stated publicly that the Commonwealth should cut back on spending. That is a very nice sentiment indeed. It is one they do not believe for one minute, because neither is prepared to suggest what moneys should not be spent that will be spent in this Budget.

Similar comments have repeatedly been made by members on the Government benches. I believe that if ever I have seen the 3-card trick in action, this surely is it. Say, for the sake of argument, the Government had allocated in the Budget additional money for pensions, health, housing, education, social security, conservation and urban and regional development - you name it - amounting to many more hundreds of millions of dollars than has been allocated under this Budget and it had balanced its budget by dipping still further into the private sector. Would it not still be extremely difficult for an Opposition to say: 'You should not have spent so much on any one of those projects'? It is not possible to endeavour at this stage to be selective. No matter how much is spent on, say, urban and regional development there still will be room to spend more and, once an amount of money is promised, it is not reasonable to suggest that an Opposition should selectively say, or be in the position to say, that this is too much, and that it should be cut back here or there. This would be like one person giving a bag of lollies to a child and another charged with the task of taking back half. That is completely unreasonable and I hope that we do not hear any more of this attitude during the debate.

I have no doubt that the previous Government would have liked to introduce such a grandiose budget - a budget to advance the welfare, standard of living, education and quality of life of the average Australian. There is no doubt also that there has been a tremendous lift in all these fields over the last 23 years. But the previous Government could not have introduced a budget such as we have before us today. There is one particular hurdle that the previous Government could not have avoided or overcome and that was its responsibility to bring in a responsible budget and its duty to maintain a strong private sector out of which true wealth for all could flow. It was the previous Government's duty to lift up all the people and not to smash down some - those some' being the people who create the wealth of this nation. It was its responsibilty not to kill the goose that, year in year out, laid the golden egg, as this Government may find it has done. So I condemn the Budget and support the amendment.

Turning to more specific aspects of the Budget, I was intrigued by the statement of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) on 28 August when, among other things he said:

The Treasurer has won the admiration of the majority of Australians. The 1973 Budget has brought an abrupt end to the stop-go, boom-bust policies of successive Liberal-Country Party governments.

Mr Giles - Who said that?

Mr Cooke - That brilliant economist, the honourable member for Lilley.

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