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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1605


Mr YOUNG (Special Minister of State)(12.01) —in reply-The Hodgman theory, the theory of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), is quite different from the Peacock theory, the theory of the Leader of the Opposition ( Mr Peacock). I am not too sure now who is chasing the Peacock throne but contemporary history shows us that people who have chased the Peacock throne in recent years have not had a very bright future. In seeking assurances from this side of the House the honourable member for Denison directed to me many questions which ought to be directed to other members of the Ministry who have a responsibility for the matters involved. Politically speaking, I ask: In view of the comments by the former member for Wannon, can the honourable member give an assurance that when his Party is back in opposition after the next election it will not bring back the squire from Nareen to lead it-the person who announced three or four weeks ago that when the Liberal Party gets into real trouble he is prepared to come back? Honourable members opposite are going to get Andrew ready for the long jump. With the jump they have ready for him he will make Carl Lewis look like a real amateur. We will not see him within 24 hours of the next election; that is one assurance I can give the House. Of course, little John from Bennelong, who is sitting there quietly disassociating himself from the Leader of the Opposition and who wants to be the next leader of this once great party, the Liberal Party, is just biding his time. But hanging over all this is big Mal, ready to come back to lead the Liberals. He may be doing the same thing as the person who now wants to be the member for the Northern Territory is doing . He cannot make up his mind which political party he wants to lead. It just shows honourable members how fused the National Party and the Liberal Party have become when the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory cannot tell the difference. He does not know which party-the Liberal Party or the National Party -he wants to lead.

In talking about the Commonwealth Electoral Act, I mention that I looked at the Liberal Party's campaign notes yesterday. They said that the honourable members for Denison, Boothby and Dundas (Mr Ruddock) will meet at the Prahran shopping centre, door knock three streets, go to the hotel for lunch-which is very unbecoming of Liberal Party members out campaigning-and then go to the local Returned Services League club and talk about the flag for a while. Next morning they will meet at another shopping centre. In this great campaign these great thinkers will be out there telling the world what is going on. But we cannot distinguish, even in the speech made today by the honourable member for Denison, what will be their great issue. He says that it will be gold fillings. As I have said before, when he starts talking about issues such as gold fillings he is representing the Leader of the National Party (Mr Sinclair). The only undertaker that I know in this Parliament is the Leader of the National Party.


Mr Shipton —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Hilarious as this may be, I ask you to bring the Minister back to the subject under debate. He is really in the land of fantasy and fiction.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mountford) —There is no point of order.


Mr YOUNG —It is unfortunate that the honourable member was not here to hear the honourable member for Denison speak. I am really responding to all the issues that were raised by him. We are talking about political advertising. The honourable member for Denison raised many of the issues which he thought he would use some of the public funding to advertise. He got on to the question of gold fillings. I think the way in which he represents the Leader of the National Party on this issue is very subtle. He should not think that the sort of collaboration that is going on between him and the Leader of the National Party as to what will happen when Andrew gets the high jump has not come to our notice .

The focus of attention of Opposition members is not the legislation; it is not the issues on which the people of Australia now have to make up their minds in determining how to vote; it is really about their first party meeting after the election. It will be a beauty. There will be some trench coats, army overcoats and sandshoes coming in then. They will look a motley group. Not many of them will be coming back, either.


Mr Shipton —On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is Wednesday and--


Mr Hodgman —It happens to be Thursday.


Mr Shipton —It is Thursday and--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mountford) —Order! The honourable member for Higgins will state the point of order.


Mr Shipton —The point of order is that the Minister is ranging far and wide in this debate and I would ask you to bring him back to order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order whatsoever.


Mr YOUNG —The honourable member for Denison and the honourable member for Boothby both got on to the question that the Government was perhaps going to an election in less than the three-year term for which it was elected. They said how outrageous this was. It is only outrageous when a Labor government does it. It is never outrageous when a Liberal government does it. One does not have to turn the clock back too far to remind the Australian people that the Liberal Party did not have to win an election in 1975; it was given the government in 1975. Sir John Kerr, before he went to the Melbourne Cup and drank his couple of bottles of scotch, said: 'Here, fellows, you can have the government'. He actually gave the government of Australia to the Liberal and National parties. Within two years, in 1977, Malcolm had them back at the polls. The next time he took a three-year term, from 1977 to 1980. But again, what happened in 1983? Malcolm decided not to see out his three-year term. In spite of his majority and in spite of the numbers in the Senate he decided to go to an election 12 months earlier than he had to, in 1983. There is no criticism if a conservative government does it; there is criticism only if a Labor government does it.

Why are we doing it? We are doing it to save the Australian people $30m. Instead of holding two elections over the next 12 months, we will hold only one- a half Senate and a House of Representatives election. By the holding of one election, the Australian people will be saved $30m, which will contribute greater welfare to the Australian nation. The conservatives say: 'We would not do it that way. We would do something different. We would do the honest, decent thing'. My God! Any observer of Australian politics would have to have noticed how decency has been squeezed out of the Liberal Party over the last decade in terms of its performance concerning the conventions and the constitutional standing of this Parliament. It has done every conceivable thing in order to get power and to stay in power.

We are not doing what Malcolm did last year-closing the rolls in 24 hours so all the kids in Australia could not get on the rolls. Honourable members opposite closed the rolls within 24 hours last year. They were so desperate to get to the polls in 1983 that over 300,000 people in Australia were denied the right to vote. That will not be happening at the next election because the laws have been changed so that all people will have at least seven days notice that they are required to put their name on the roll. Honourable members opposite should not talk about all the rorts and lurks about electoral laws that have been brought to this Parliament. They sat there, with all the advantages they had, watching the voting system becoming unbalanced as it applied to the House of Representatives, and they did absolutely nothing about it.

As to the Electoral and Referendum Amendment Bill, the major parties represented on the Joint Committee on Electoral Reform unanimously agreed that the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act, in the way in which it had been structured in terms of political advertising, would have placed an enormous burden on the media in determining what was and what was not misleading advertising. That does not mean that we resile from the fact that other methods ought to be looked at by that Joint Committee in the future as to what may or may not be done in terms of political advertising. We have seen some pretty outrageous advertising in politics, particularly in the last 20 years, and particularly by the conservative parties in their presentation of the attitudes and the policies of the Australian Labor Party. Although on this occasion we take the advice of the Joint Committee in amending the Bill in order that chaos does not result in the forthcoming election, I think the Joint Committee has a responsibility to continue to look for avenues to see that these laws are brought into line with what the Australian people expect to be proper and acceptable standards of political advertising in this country.