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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2580

Mr NEIL (St George) -In Sydney today there is a serious petrol strike. Stocks are in short supply. One of the biggest scandals in this strike is the failure of the State Government to make proper arrangements for essential services to be provided. One of my constituents has been seriously prejudiced by the non-action of the State Government. I draw the attention of the House to a very sound editorial in tonight's Sydney Daily Mirror, which states:

The biggest puzzle this puzzling petrol dispute has exposed is the haphazard and chaotic arrangements for essential services.

The AMA revealed today that many doctors could not make house or hospital calls because no arrangements had been made for them to get emergency petrol supplies.

And doubts were voiced that other essential serviceshospitals (with reduced nursing staff), ambulance and police- could be kept going.

This is a scandal the State Government must face up to.

The health and welfare of the community must be safeguarded at all costs- even at the risk of making a Labor Government look like strike-breakers.

So far nothing seems to have been done. There is a certain lady in the electorate of St George. She does not wish her name to be used; therefore I will not divulge it. She is a grandmother now living by herself. She has no partner in life, but she has her grandson living with her. She is a pensioner. She has brought up her grandson since he was 20 months old. The grandson suffers from muscular dystrophy, which is a shocking disease. I understand that it starts in a person at about 5 or 6 years of age and gradually gets worse. Very few people who suffer from this disease manage to reach adulthood and stay reasonably physically fit. This young man somehow has managed to get through the higher school certificate by a correspondence course and to obtain a job. He works in a very important job that he values. He is the only person in that place who carries out that job. He gets to his work each day in a specially fitted motor vehicle which he can drive. He cannot climb stairs or move in and out of the vehicle without assistance.

In the last couple of days he was short of petrol and he rang my electoral office. Do honourable members think that the State Government could assist in getting petrol in emergency circumstances for this young man? My secretary rang the Trades Hall and was told that the matter was out of its hands; that it was handled by the Trades and Labor Council. She rang the Trades and Labor Council, which said that it was none of its concern and it could not assist. It said to ring Pat Hills, who is the Minister for Industrial Relations apparently. We tried to ring Mr Hills' office, but all the telephones were completely blank. My secretary rang Mr Hills' Department, which said that his telephones are nearly always out of order. The Department suggested ringing the explosives section of the Department of Mines. Why, if one wants petrol, one should ring the explosives section of the Department of Mines I do not know. I think the Minister is also the Minister for Mines. A very courteous gentleman in that Department said that these matters were usually handled by the Premier's Department and to ring the Premiers office. A call was made to the Premier's office and a sympathetic secretary said: 'I am afraid we just cannot help'. So my secretary rang the public relations department of the Shell oil company, and within hours the Shell oil company had made special arrangements to deliver petrol for this young man from some special supplies that it has. The Shell company will continue to supply this man with petrol so that he may continue to drive to his place of employment.

But what is the New South Wales Government doing. All it is giving to the people of New South Wales are circuses. It has done nothing about unemployment or other problems facing that State. No change has been made with respect to the bread industry. All that the New South Wales Government is interested in is nude bathing and gambling. The State Government is run by a premier who is a prancing popinjay who has turned out to be a paper pussycat within his first 100 days of office. If the State Government cannot handle ordinary arrangements for essential services during a strike, it ought to resign tomorrow. If within 48 hours it has not these essential services going I hope that the nurses and doctors in New South Wales hospitals and the underprivileged and handicapped in that State storm their Parliament House and get something done.

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