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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1964

Mr STAPLES(1.15) —I would like to raise in this grievance debate my concern at the attack by the wealthiest and most powerful New Right generals on ordinary Australians. There is a lot of talk about Australia going broke, banana republics and so on, but what is really going on, what is really behind it all, is that there are people in this community who are trying to send the Government and the Australian taxpayer broke, while at the same time building up their own wealth and empires. Members of the Opposition, with their rigid idealogues, who sit on the other side of the House in support of these go-getter so-called free enterprisers, think they have a gold mine of votes in the community in punishing the poor and underprivileged in our society as they stack those people up against the ordinary Australian. They are quite wrong in this. These are simplistic terrorist economic tactics and political tactics. I believe that the people of Australia will begin to realise over the next few months that the transfer of wealth and national productivity from the public sector, the taxpayer and the ordinary worker and his or her family is really going into the bank accounts of the wealthy industrialists with very little return, very little national wealth in the form of the development of products going back into Australia's economy. These people from the New Right are prepared to grind the ordinary worker into Third World poverty, to cut social security benefits and pensions and, indeed, to destroy the fabric of our society, which has been worked for daily by millions of ordinary Australians. Many Australians, as well as those who have died in wartime, have died in industry to protect our society.

The attitudes of the John Stones, the Katharine Wests, the John Elliotts, the Andrew Hays and the Peter Boyles of this world can be summed up by the words of those opposite, particularly those of the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Ian Cameron) a few weeks ago when he said that if Joh got in, or the Opposition got in, pensions would be cut, and more. This situation is intolerable, because these people are after a quick buck-the profiteer economic means to their own wealth. They are not concerned about the ordinary Australian. They want to cut government spending, they want to cut wages and they want to cut the standards of living of the ordinary Australian. At the same time they transfer billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to their own empires, building their own wealth and to pitting Australian against Australian; pitting the ordinary Australian against the lesser privileged, the poorer Australian. We saw a clear example of that here yesterday in the matter of public importance raised by the Opposition concerning compulsory work for the dole. It is a terrible indictment of that section of Australian society's concern and interest in Australia's development.

We face a critical period in Australia's history. We are just about to embark on our third century of European settlement. That century should be our most dynamic period. We have all the benefits. We have the resources and we have a growing new economic base-a new invigoration in development, in education and in new technologies. This is all under threat, not from some outside military force, not from some foreign economic force-Japan, West Germany or the United States of America-but from a very deliberate and greedy threat from within, from the most greedy and most powerful section of Australia; that basically summing up the New Right.

Senator Arthur Gietzelt, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, a couple of days ago in a speech to the Blinded Soldiers of St Dunstan's in New South Wales, rang some very important warning bells. I unashamedly draw on parts of that speech in my speech today because what was said there should be read and understood by all Australians. It was a warning siren to us all, and it is a great pity that it is not being picked up by the Press at this stage.

Opposition members in this House, and in the other House as well, talk about the Australia Card as one of the greatest dangers ever to face this nation. Takeover activities have been going on in this country in the last few years. The billions of dollars that have been coming in from overseas to prop up these takeovers constitute our most serious danger. They are driving Australia into debt. These people in private enterprise are driving Australia into debt. It is not public debt that is causing the problems; it is private debt and Australia's lack of equity. That is what is going to make us an indebted country. It is not the public debt that is reducing much-needed community services, defence and so on; it is private debt. I refer people to an article in the Age on 30 March headed `Australia's ratio of public debt to GDP quite low'. It said:

Australia has one of the lowest ratios of public debt to GDP in the OECD region, according to a recent study by officials of the OECD secretariat.

Net public debt as a percentage of nominal GDP in 1986 is estimated to be 25.6 per cent of GDP, compared with 33.5 per cent for the OECD region.

The only countries with a lower net public debt burden were France, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

That is the situation. But members of the New Right, with their attitudes and the way they would run this economy, would put a millstone around every Australian's neck to protect their own wealth and privilege. The headless chooks from the Opposition show their own bankruptcy by their own blind adherence, their immature and ideological adherence to the New Right. They are mere puppets. The people of Australia should realise that the Opposition parties are run by people outside this Parliament. These people have been allowed to take over these parties. They are the Johs and the white-shoe brigade, people who go to other countries, who bag their own countries. They are blinded, driven only by their own megalomania. In the Liberal Party we have John Elliott. He is going about destabilising his own Party, going against his own Party's preselection procedures to overturn a sitting member of this House. Now that is fine, but what sort of person would not stick to the rules but do that? If that is the sort of person that people want in this Parliament, then so be it. But that is the sort of person that they would have to trust to run their economy and their lives.

Mr Elliott is a prime example of the New Right. He is the Treasurer of the Liberal Party as well, so he is a very important person in the Liberal Party. He runs a very large conglomerate, Elders IXL Ltd, which made $233m profit last year, more than double the record for the year before. But it paid only 10 per cent tax compared to the corporate rate of 46 per cent, and it borrowed billions of dollars overseas for its takeover bids. Its directors preached restraint at the National Economic Summit Conference, but in the last two years Elders IXL directors' fees have risen by 33 per cent and 25 per cent last year. Their executive salaries rose 15 per cent while the incomes of workers on average weekly earnings rose by only 7.9 per cent. The average weekly adult male award wage rose by only 4.5 per cent in 1985-86.

These people unilaterally rip through the country, bleeding the country dry. They fly around in aircraft worth millions of dollars and they are not putting anything back into the country. They are just making paper profits and building up their own wealth. Elders and the Bond companies, which control the major brewing interests in this country, are not interested in developing products and technology and investment for Australia; they are interested only in developing their own wealth. If they had any indication, any idea, of what wealth they could generate from simple things such as new technologies and biotechnologies in brewing, Australia would be a far better place and they would have some credence to put forward to the Australian population.

Mr Peter Fisher —Which brewery?

Mr STAPLES —Kirin Brewery in Japan, through biotechnology, can now make a full strength, full flavoured beer in 24 hours. It takes seven days under the other process. Can honourable members imagine what that does to the price of beer? This is one of the world's major brewing companies. What are Elders and Carlton and United Breweries Ltd doing in technology? Nothing. What is Bond doing in technology? Nothing. These people sit back, fly around the country, fly around the world in their Fosters jets, and contribute nothing to the wealth of this country.

The high interest rates that Mr and Mrs Average of Australia face come about because of these people's overseas borrowings, because the excessive private overseas debt is driving down the Australian dollar. They want to restrict government borrowings and expenditure further to compensate for their own inadequacies and greed. They want us to pay. They want the ordinary Australian to pay for their takeovers, and they want them to pay with their pensions and benefits. They want to bankrupt and tie the hands of government, and they want to increase their own wealth.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.