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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1601

Mr IAN CAMERON(6.22) —The Appropriation Bill (No. 3) l984-85 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) l984-85 have been introduced for the purpose of appropriating additional expenditure. I thought that this so-called Labor Government was about saving money. However, it seems that it needs another $426m to continue running the affairs of the nation. I notice that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs needs another $4m. I would have thought that that was one area which had been allocated more than sufficient money to ensure its survival. The Attorney-General's Department needs another $7m. I imagine that that has something to do with legal aid and so on.

The Department of Defence needs another $250m. The increased expenditure in this area is worth while because defence is one of the few areas in respect of which an increased allocation is justified. Under this Government, our defence forces are being run down. The Government is not interested in defence. It has knocked us out of ANZUS. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) and the socialist Prime Minister of New Zealand do not seem to be terribly interested in defence in this part of the world. The ANZUS Treaty is in ruins. It is a disgrace that the Government should have put us in this position. The Australian Labor Party has a tradition of defending this country, as was shown by the actions of Curtin and his colleagues during the last war. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and his colleagues are not prepared to continue with the sorts of treaties that at least the United States Government wants to lock us into. However, I am pleased to see that more money has been allocated for defence. I think this is a worthwhile expenditure.

The Parliament is being asked to approve additional expenditure of $426m for a whole range of things. We know that the total Budget deficit at the moment is $6.7 billion. I guess the amount that is being sought will take that figure well and truly past the $7 billion mark. Of course, the great tax summit is coming up. I would never know why the Government does not hold an expenditure summit. This Government seems to be intent on imposing more and more taxation on the people of this nation. Of course, I am one who believes that we should be looking at ways in which we can cut government expenditure and, as a result, cut taxes. I do not know of any individual who wants to pay more tax for any reason at all. I think we must start to look at ways of cutting government expenditure. We will have an enormous task on our hands when we come to office after the next election in looking at areas in which we can cut back on expenditure. There is no doubt that once this Labor Government is finished in office we will be looking at an enormous Budget deficit. It looks as though we are to have a mini-Budget in May. The so-called tax summit is a total charade because all the decisions have been made. I see that the Minister for Trade (Mr Dawkins) is sitting at the table--

Mr Ian Robinson —They took it off him.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Yes, they took it off him because he was not able to give any direction in that area. As I said, the tax summit is a total charade. We still do not know who is going to be invited to the summit. I hope that I, as someone representing 80,000 electors in the great electorate of Maranoa, get an invitation to the summit. I represent 80,000 people who are involved in producing some of the wealth of this nation. These people are not dependent on enormous amounts of handout money, as are people in areas such as the capital cities. The farm industries, the great mining industries, the oil industry and so on of this country more than pay their way. The oil producing area of Jackson and the mining area of Blackwater and others which produce vast amounts of coal are enormous revenue earners in my electorate.

The Prime Minister seems to think he should have a summit on taxation. Every day he comes up with a new summit for something or other. Of course, we know that he fell off the top of a summit some months ago because he has never been the same since he backed down from the MX missile negotiations. That was a total farce. Even I thought that he had a bit of gumption. However, of course, from that day on he has been slowly backing himself out of office and he will not last at the next election.

The amount of tax revenue for Queensland has been cut back by $250m. In fact, the amount of tax revenue for all other States has been cut back. The Hawke Government says that it will cut back expenditure. It will force the States to increase their taxes so that the Commonwealth will not have to take the responsibility and increase its taxes. The amount of revenue that every State is to get from the Commonwealth funding arrangements will be cut back enormously. Of course, the amount to be allocated to Queensland is to be cut back by $250m. Queensland has been very much in the forefront of events in the last few weeks largely because of the power strike that has taken place in that part of the world. The Electrical Trades Union people decided some months ago to go on strike. Of course, we have all been out of power. I personally have suffered from lack of power on my own property. We ran out of water for stock because of that dispute. We had to go to bed with a candle-and that was to give us light. Of course, we did not have power for irrigation and all sorts of other farm endeavours. All the small industries throughout Maranoa and the rest of Queensland were completely out of power.

Mr Hodgman —Terrible.

Mr IAN CAMERON —It is a shocking state of affairs. The Premier of Queensland is the only Premier who is prepared to stand up to the unions. The Federal Government is not prepared to back the Premier of Queensland against the unions. The Government has back-shuffled away--

Mr Hodgman —Robin Gray did something.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Robin Gray is the only one who would be prepared to stand up with Joh. But at long last we have a Premier who is prepared to stand up to the unions. The Prime Minister wants to negotiate with Joh. However, the Premier of Queensland is not prepared to negotiate. We finished and settled this strike a month ago. The power came back on a month ago. The power has not been turned off since and it will continue that way.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Mr IAN CAMERON —When the sitting was suspended, I was explaining how I felt that it was unnecessary for the Labor Government to have a tax summit as today we heard the announcement that it is going to increase the price of fuel--

Mr Goodluck —It is not!

Mr IAN CAMERON —Yes, by 3.9c a litre. This will bring in another $642m in revenue. I put it to the Government that at this rate it will be unnecessary for it to have a summit if the tax take from fuel alone is to continue to increase. We have seen the dollar drop out of sight; it has been as low as US61c. Now that the Government is to review the parity pricing policy every two months, judging by the dollar's performance in the previous two months it could drop another US10c to US50c, which would give the Government at least another $600m to $700m in revenue. So it is really not necessary to have a tax summit. Our great white leader, the Prime Minister, told us that he was going to knock down the price of fuel by 3c a litre, but since he has come to office we have seen an increase of between 3c and 15c a litre in the price of petrol. It is terribly difficult for us, particularly the farming and business communities, to continue at this rate.

Another matter of concern is the Queensland electricity strike. It is important to remember that all workers who were sacked have been offered re-employment under certain conditions. It is also important to remember that they are covered by a no-strike clause. We in Queensland argue that it is absolutely vital that essential services be maintained. Those workers are getting extra pay and better conditions to work in those areas. They are privileged workers because of the amount of pay and the conditions, leave and so on, offered to them to work in those essential service areas, six or seven days a week if they have to, to maintain power. It is most important for us to remember that.

Another matter mentioned in the Bill is extra funds for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The Department of Communications has an allocation of an extra $12m. The Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) is not here, but I ask him to make sure that the satellite receiving dishes in western Queensland receive an ABC program produced in Queensland, including weather forecasts. Presently people in western Queensland are getting a forecast from Sydney. Mr Speaker, if you were sitting at home in your electorate receiving a forecast from Queensland, you would not be very happy about it. On the other hand, many Queenslanders have to watch a New South Wales forecast in a Sydney-produced program. They do not know what is going on. They do not know what their weather is going to be. Cyclones and all sorts of things crop up in inland Queensland and people, particularly in the electorate of Maranoa, want to know what is going on. Under the ABC's present arrangements, they do not have a clue because the present Government is not giving them the programs that they ought to be getting through the ABC and the new National program. There is a lot of good in the new National program. There is also a lot of bad.

The transmission we are getting in outback Queensland is being produced in Sydney, and it is not good enough. All the graft and corruption in New South Wales being beamed into Queensland is more than we can take. It is something that we clean living people are not prepared to accept. I put it to the Minister that this extra money, this $12.201m, ought to be spent on giving the good people of Maranoa at least a program that is produced in Queensland, particularly a weather forecast. Those of us who live in the bush like to see a proper weather map every day, particularly at this time of the year when we have cyclones and so on. No other State would accept this situation. But, of course, Queensland has to take second best. We will not accept it any longer. I am asking the Minister to do something about it. This afternoon the Minister for Aviation (Mr Peter Morris) told us that he was going to make airports commercial and profitable. I interjected. I was not named in this case--

Mr SPEAKER —I find that hard to believe!

Mr IAN CAMERON —I do, too, but I interjected and suggested that, if it is good enough to expect airports to pay their way, it is good enough to expect the buses in Canberra to pay their way. They run at a $50m loss a year. Commonwealth railways run at a loss each year of $50m to $100m. I put it to honourable members that, if it is good enough for those others in country areas to make our airports pay, it is good enough for those who live in city electorates to make sure that this cuts across the board and that not just airports suffer. As you would know, Mr Speaker, aircraft flights in inland Australia are most important for the every day carrying out of business in Maranoa, Riverina-Darling and other electorates. I mentioned import parity petrol pricing. I am opposed to our parity pricing formula and I believe--

Mr Hollis —Doug Anthony brought it in.

Mr IAN CAMERON —I know that Doug Anthony brought it in. I was not very happy at the time he brought it in and I assure honourable members that I voiced my objection at the time to Doug Anthony and the Fraser Government. I still argue that it is not the right formula. I do not believe we should fix our price of fuel on the price asked by nomad Arabs in the desert who get together and rip out of us $30 or $40 a barrel for crude oil. Yet we agree with them, cap in hand, and adjust our price accordingly. When Keating became Treasurer-the greatest disaster ever to hit this nation-he floated the dollar and up went the price of our own fuel.

Mr Slipper —And the dollar sinks.

Mr IAN CAMERON —The dollar sinks 20c at least. It has gone down 25c since the dollar was floated. Of course, the price of fuel has gone up accordingly. I see the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) at the table. I put it to him that we cannot make gains. When the dollar depreciates those of us in export industries get a trading advantage against other countries. That is why our dollar is going downwards. But interest rates are going up and fuel prices are going up. The real price of money today is at least 12 per cent. I put it to the House that that is the most we have ever had to pay for money. If one wants to borrow $100,000 or more one will pay nearly 17 per cent interest today. The banks have put interest rates up 2 1/2 to 3 per cent in the last month. This Labor Government claims that we have only 5 per cent inflation. If we take five from 17, we get 12 per cent; and that is the real interest rate we are paying. It has never been higher. Although we have picked up something from the devaluation, the Government announced today that fuel prices have gone up 3.9c a litre, the greatest rip-off since we started driving motor vehicles and had to use fuel. We have never seen an increase of that magnitude. Of course, interest rates have gone up as well. I turn to farm costs. The great white leader, the Prime Minister, is meeting with the National Farmers Federation at this time. That is why Keating is not here. I hope he is meeting the farmers, otherwise I would expect him to be here. They are meeting tonight at 7.30.

Mr Beazley —You are lucky he is not here.

Mr Ian Robinson —Guns or butter.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Guns or butter, yes. At least the Government is meeting the farmers, but I would like to see some action. After today's meeting I would like to see the Government do something about tariffs, interest rates and fuel prices. I would like to see this Government give the farmers and small business people across this nation a fair go. I would like the Government to look at some of these rapidly increasing costs which it claims it is reducing but which are going through the roof.

I conclude my remarks by referring to the controversy surrounding football and cricket. When I was a kid I felt it was good enough for us to have a game wherever we wanted. This Government seems to think we cannot go to Africa and certain parts of the world to play cricket. I just wonder how hypocritical the Government can get. It has allowed the Pick and Pay shopping centre, one of the biggest shopping centres set up in Brisbane in the last 12 months, to be set up by a South African company. Yet the Government says that we cannot trade with South Africa. The Minister for Housing and Construction, Mr West, has accepted a contract for work to be done at Brisbane Airport by a South African company. Mr Speaker, I ask you: Just how much more hypocritical can one get than that? Barclay Bros Pty Ltd, a Queensland company which missed out on this tender, has been to see the Minister and has asked him to look at the fact that he has given the contract to an overseas company. This Government is so hypocritical that it does not know whether it is coming or going. I think it is ridiculous that Qantas Airways Ltd is only allowed to fly to Harare. It ought to be allowed to fly to Johannesburg. I believe that our footballers and cricketers should be allowed to play sport where they want to do so. We should not use politics to interfere in their daily lives.

Mr Milton —Have you been to South Africa?

Mr IAN CAMERON —I have been to black Africa. I have been to lots of African states. I can assure the honourable member that the blacks in South Africa live a whole damn sight better than the blacks in any other part of Africa.

Mr Milton —That is sheer nonsense.

Mr IAN CAMERON —It is not. If one goes to Rhodesia, Mozambique and Kenya-all those places-one will see that the black Africans in South Africa have a better standard of living than the black Africans in any other country. What about Ethiopia? The honourable member should go to Ethiopia and see how well people live there. They are all starving. The socialists are running Ethiopia and the people there are starving to death. Australian wheat farmers are sending wheat by the ship load every month in order to keep those people alive. Without our operation they would all perish and die. The South Africans are trading and keeping them alive too. They send aid from the southern parts of Africa to those countries. All the black African countries in Africa which are socialist controlled are an absolute disaster.

Mr Hollis —Crap!

Mr IAN CAMERON —It is not. Has the honourable member been there to have a look?

Mr Hollis —Three weeks ago.

Mr IAN CAMERON —What did the honourable member find? Did he go to Ethiopia? How many people are starving in Ethiopia? Millions of people are starving there. This Government is totally hypocritical. I ask it to let our sportsmen go where they like.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.