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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1594


Mr HODGMAN(5.43) —Today is a black day in the history of Australia. What do we have? We have the Hawke socialist Government which is totally untrustworthy in regard to defence and foreign affairs and absolutely incompetent in regard to economic management. It is like the Whitlam Government all over again, except that it is worse. The present Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the present Treasurer (Mr Keating) make Whitlam and Cairns look like a couple of country boys. The Hawke socialist Government is a socialist government; let there be no mistake about that. It is the highest taxing, biggest spending government Australia has ever seen in peacetime. The Prime Minister is a self-confessed socialist and, in addition, a prisoner in the cell of the pro-communist Socialist Left. He is the most dangerous Prime Minister ever to be inflicted upon Australia.

It must be said that the Prime Minister of Australia is no longer trusted by the United States of America and by the Western alliance. In Washington he is now known as Robert the Reneger, as the direct result of his disgraceful sellout over ANZUS and the MX test. Under his supervision the Australian dollar has dropped like a stone. Yet he keeps saying: 'Trust me'. His international credibility is plummeting and with it plummets Australia's reputation. In foreign affairs the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has been an unmitigated disaster. The 'world's finest Treasurer of l984', Mr Keating, will find his gold medal repossessed by the end of l985. In foreign affairs Australia has become a sick joke and at home the economy is heading for a disaster in l985-86. We are threadbare overseas and we are heading for bankruptcy domestically.

In the housing and construction area the Hawke socialist Government has already broken every-and I repeat 'every'-major promise it made in l984. It promised last year that interest rates would go down; in fact, they have gone up. It promised that the first home owners scheme would be maintained; in fact, its throat has been cut. It promised that housing commencements would rise; and they are just about to drop. It promised to bring industrial peace to the construction industry; but today guerrilla activity is worse than ever.

It must be said that the Hawke socialist Government is without doubt the most anti-Tasmanian government since Federation. I acknowledge the presence in the chamber of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), the honourable member for Bass (Mr Smith) and the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Miles). The honourable member for Lyons (Mr Burr) is on his way to the chamber. The Hawke socialist Government hates Tasmania because the people of Australia's smallest but most beautiful State have elected five Liberal members to the House of Representatives at five consecutive Federal elections. Last year as punishment we found the Commonwealth capital works program for Tasmania slashed, causing a loss of over l,000 jobs. Now the Government is planning to cut $40m from Tasmania's grant for l985-86. It has broken every single promise it has made to Tasmania, except one. It did stop the dam, to its eternal discredit. That decision alone, as the honourable member for Franklin will confirm, cost Tasmania 3,500 jobs.

It is not surprising that the Prime Minister's lowest approval rating in the entire Commonwealth of Australia is in Tasmania. Quite bluntly, Tasmanians do not trust him, and with very good reason. Tasmanians can see through this self-styled president of an Australian socialist republic. Most Tasmanians do not think he will even last the distance to lead the Australian Labor Party into the next Federal election. If, Mr Deputy Speaker, as a betting man you are interested, I can tell you that the bookmakers in Tasmania are laying odds of six to four on that Robert Hawke will not be Prime Minister of Australia after the next Federal election.

I will go into a little more detail and put a little flesh on the skeleton of the speech which I have just outlined. Mr Deputy Speaker, I said to you that the Prime Minister is no longer trusted. In Washington he is called Robert the Reneger. Why is he called Robert the Reneger? Because in his own words he admitted that he was a reneger. An article in the New York Times appeared under this extraordinary headline: 'Australia balks on accord to aid in U.S. test of MX; Premier'-that is, Mr Hawke-'cites split in Party'. That was the front page headline of the New York Times, read by millions of Americans. This is what appeared in the article:

Australia's Prime Minister Mr Hawke, said today that he had told the United States that because of a revolt in his own Party-

listen to this-

he would probably have to renege on a pledge.

No wonder he is called Robert the Reneger. He used the words that he would 'probably have to renege on a pledge'. What did he do when he came back to Australia? He said: 'I am not like my socialist brother and colleague, Prime Minister Lange of New Zealand. American ships are welcome in all Australian ports'. He said to the people of Australia: 'You can trust me. United States ships are welcome in every Australian port'. Is that the truth? I put it to the House that it is not. I put it to the House that our Prime Minister, whilst publicly saying that United States ships are welcome in every port in Australia, has secretly been doing a Lange. The true position is that United States ships are very welcome in Australian ports, provided those ports are in Tasmania or Queensland.

I now put it to the House-and I will produce evidence to support this-that the Hawke socialist Government deliberately and actively dissuaded the United States from sending the light cruiser USS Texas into either Melbourne or Sydney for fear that it would embarrass John Cain and Nifty Neville Wran. The plain fact is that when the USS Texas visit to Australia was planned the United States authorities were well aware that it was the l50th anniversary of Victoria's founding. They were also well aware that it is a very long way from Hobart to Brisbane. So it was thought that the USS Texas, being so welcome in all Australian ports, might call in at Melbourne and Sydney on the way from Hobart to Brisbane.

What in fact happened? Do not take just my word for it; this is what a Government official told Australian Associated Press just four days ago. I quote from telex AAP ANS 252 with code NNNN171719 at the bottom. The story was about how five Tasmanian Liberal members of parliament-who are now all present in the chamber-publicly welcomed the USS Texas to Tasmania and said that the Americans would be very, very welcome to come any time.


Mr Hand —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. Not only is the honourable member misleading the House; he is misleading the public. Not all the Tasmanian Liberal members are present in the chamber.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Rocher) —Order! There is no point of order.


Mr HODGMAN —The five Tasmanian Liberal members said: 'We believe in the ANZUS Treaty. We support it. We welcome the USS Texas. Ignore those small, unrepresentative, pro-communist demonstrators, because they do not represent the majority of Tasmanian opinion'. When the story came out in AAP it had this additional paragraph:

A Government source today told AAP that USS Texas was scheduled to visit Brisbane as its next Australian port of call rather than Melbourne or Sydney where its presence could embarrass the Cain and Wran Labor governments.

How true are those words! Can honourable members imagine the excitement at the Victorian State Council of the ALP at the weekend if, in the midst of everything else that was going on-the tomatoes, the left hooks and the right hooks-the USS Texas had been sailing up the Yarra? The Government kept the USS Texas out of the Port of Melbourne because it would--


Mr Hand —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order.


Mr HODGMAN —Here is the man who abstained.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member for Melbourne had better have a serious point of order.


Mr Hand —Mr Deputy Speaker, again I draw attention to fact. It would be impossible for that ship to sail up the Yarra.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order and, if the honourable member for Melbourne insists on behaving in that way, the Chair will take action.


Mr HODGMAN —I commend to the honourable member that he just trip back to the embassy and get better instructions because he is not doing very well with his interjections.


Mr Hand —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a serious point of order. I have not been to the embassy, unlike the honourable member who is constantly at embassies in this city. I have never visited an embassy in this country or in this city.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. No embassy was named.


Mr HODGMAN —Of course, the Victorians are all twitchy; they are very twitchy. There have been left hooks, right jabs and tomatoes right through the weekend-democracy at work! However, some members of the Labor Party chose not to cast a vote. They preferred to abstain. They left the chamber and they did not cast a vote. That is very interesting. The plain fact is that the Prime Minister of Australia has been caught out secretly doing a Lange. Nuclear powered ships can visit any Australian port as long as they go to Tasmania or Queensland because it is all right with Robin and Joh but the Government certainly does not want John or Nifty embarrassed.

Look at the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a latter day Walter Mitty. Name one good thing that William George Hayden, the honourable member for Oxley, has done since he was placed in the very important position of Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask honourable members to apply these tests: Has he strengthened the position between Australia and its allies? The answer is no. Has he given comfort to those who oppose us? The answer is yes. This is the man who was described by the official Chinese Press as a cat's paw of Vietnam. As my Leader said in the House a few weeks ago, we have a drover's dog running the country and a cat's paw in charge of foreign affairs. Last week it was all Mr Hu Yaobang. Well done, it was a magnificent visit. But Mr Hu Yaobang is head of a government which described the Minister for Foreign Affairs as a cat's paw of Vietnam. I put it to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in every area in which the Minister for Foreign Affairs has entered he has made an absolute muck of it. He has upset our closest allies in the Association of South East Asian Nations. He has upset and offended the United States of America, not once, not twice, but on a number of occasions, and at the same time everything he has said has been to the benefit of Vietnam, which is of course the puppet of the Soviet Union.

Let us look at our defence situation. We have less defence capacity today than we had in l939. What does this Government do? It destroys 50 years of experience by abolishing the Fleet Air Arm. This is the Government which says that Australia, a maritime continent, does not need an aircraft carrier. We have an off-shore, over-water air capacity which is less than that which Argentina had in the Falkland Islands war. We have tanks the training time for which has been cut to one hour a week. We have a Navy that cannot go to sea, an Air Force that cannot fly and, to add insult to injury, the Government decides to tax the reserves. Does anybody in this Parliament really believe that this Government, having spat in the face of our allies, having let our defence forces run down, is fair dinkum about defending Australia? One could not possibly believe it.

I turn to the economy. Remember the promises. I am obliged to you, Mr Deputy Speaker. You are quite right. A trilogy is a three-part tragedy. Tragically for Australia, this tragedy will continue and get worse until this Government is thrown out of office . I repeat what I said last year, which infuriated the Prime Minister. I will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to bring about the defeat of the Hawke socialist Government because this is the most dangerous and disreputable government that has ever been inflicted on this country.


Mr Simmons —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 75, which relates to the use of offensive words to members. I remember in a debate last year reference was made to the Peacock-Sinclair fascist Opposition and that term was ruled to be offensive. Yet the honourable member for Denison constantly refers to the Hawke socialist Government. It is an emotional, trigger phrase and I find it offensive.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Will the honourable member for Denison defer to the honourable member for Calare and exclude him from the reference?


Mr HODGMAN —I will for the time being, if it will make him happy. I too would feel offended if I were called a socialist. The last thing Australia wants is a socialist government. Do not for one moment let the honourable member for Melbourne get up and pretend that he is offended. Look at the economy. The rate of unemployment has gone up. Remember the headline of the year for l984-everybody in Australia should have it in his back room-'Good news! Home loan drop on way'. There is a photograph of the world's only two-faced ferret and the article states: 'Home boost', 'Treasurer Paul Keating' 'Home buyers--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Denison may not refer to the Treasurer in those terms.


Mr HODGMAN —I am sorry; I withdraw. I looked at the Concise Oxford Dictionary and I found out that a ferret is a half-tamed variety of the common polecat.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Leave it alone.


Mr HODGMAN —I withdraw. It is unfair to common polecats. The article states:

Home buyers are set to receive a New Year bonus with mortgage rates strongly tipped to fall. Treasurer Paul Keating has predicted an across-the-board fall in interest rates flowing on to home repayments.

Where is that promise? Prime interest rates went up in January. Home interest rates have now gone up in every major lending bank and the building societies are seeking an interest rate increase. This is at the same time as the rate of unemployment is going up. Do honourable members remember the old saying that somebody is only l9 bob in the pound? I am sad to say that we have a Prime Minister and a Treasurer who are only 63c in the dollar. Every morning I look to see whether the dollar will float. It has not floated yet and I doubt very much that it will. The value of the dollar plummets by the day whilst this Government, with absolute economic irresponsibility, does nothing at all to prevent it. Yet we have that economic genius, the Prime Minister of Australia, saying in Perth l0 days ago: 'Oh, because the dollar has dropped, it could produce an extra l00,000 jobs'! What about his promise in the Sydney Opera House, that Oscar winning promise, that there would be 500,000 new jobs for Australians within the first three years of his Government? That promise has been totally dishonoured. Let us look at the figures. It is correct to say, as the Australian Financial Review admitted last year, that l36,000 new positions have been filled but they are not jobs which have been created by the Hawke socialist Government. This 500,000 promise is an absolute con and I do not believe that anybody in Australia would accept for one moment that that promise is being honoured.

The Prime Minister keeps telling us that inflation has come down. Of course it comes down when one rigs the CPI. But ask the housewives, the mothers, who have to go to buy food and provisions whether the inflation rate is coming down. They will say that Mr Hawke, with all due respect, deserves some specialised medical treatment if he thinks that inflation is dropping. So where does one turn? Interest rates are up. Unemployment is up.


Mr Goodluck —What about the petrol?


Mr HODGMAN —Exactly, the petrol. Do honourable members remember the wailing and weeping around Australia in l983? In l982 the then shadow Treasurer, the present Treasurer, went around saying: 'The Fraser Government has put a branch of the Tax Office at every petrol bowser'. What did the Prime Minister of Australia then say? He said: 'We will bring down the price of petrol by 3c a litre'. It has gone up by 9c a litre in the last six months. When will the Prime Minister honour that promise? If he thinks that the people out there who are filling up the petrol tanks of their motor cars do not remember what he said, he is in for a big shock. The honourable member for Franklin is circulating a petition which is being signed by thousands and thousands of Australians who will pin this Prime Minister on a clear and solemn promise that the price of petrol would drop by 3c a litre.

Where do we turn in respect of Tasmania? The Hawke socialist Government must realise once and for all that Tasmania is an equal partner in the Federation. The smallest State in Australia is sick and tired of being pushed around by this self-styled, bullying president of an Australian socialist republic, this little Caesar, who is prepared to belt the smallest State and, as we have seen in recent times, is prepared to put the Federation at risk by tackling Queensland. I would like to see him take on one of his socialist Premier colleagues in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia. This is the Prime Minister who said that he would govern for all Australians. This is the Prime Minister who said that he would bring Australians together. Instead, he is forcing Australians apart. He is splitting the nation. The sooner he is rooted out of the Lodge the better for all Australians.