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Thursday, 17 December 1992
Page: 5317

Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) (12.57 p.m.) —Mr Deputy President—

  Senator Schacht interjecting.

Senator HILL —I thought it might pay to set the scene very briefly. The scene in South Australia—

Senator Powell —I raise a point of order. Is Senator Hill asking to make a personal explanation or are we proceeding with matters of public interest as expected?

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crichton-Browne)—My understanding is that we are proceeding with the matter of public interest debate.

Senator HILL —I will not be long. I was not planning to speak in this debate. I will briefly set the scene in South Australia, which is sadly one of near depression. Senator Schacht, as a South Australian, would know this. South Australia is in an awful mess as a result of failed Labor governments, both at the State level and the federal level. The incompetence of his Labor governments and the person whom Senator Schacht helped to install as Premier, Mr Bannon, contributed to a loss of $3 billion by the South Australian State Bank, money that is going to have to be repaid by this generation and future generations of South Australians. That is disgraceful and the environment now for jobs in the depressed economy is frightening.

Senator Schacht —Why is the Liberal Party falling apart?

Senator HILL —Does Senator Schacht know what the level of youth unemployment is in the southern suburbs of Adelaide? The level of youth unemployment is 55 per cent in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. That is the highest regional level in the whole of Australia. In the western suburbs it is somewhere around 45 per cent and in the northern suburbs it is also around the mid 40 per cent. That is the legacy of incompetent Labor economic managers at both the State and the federal levels, and they are Senator Schacht's people.

  In that environment, Senator Schacht comes in here to try to win a cheap political point, taking himself back into his glorious days as State secretary of the Labor Party in South Australia. We all know that there are occasions when a candidate loses a series of preselections and becomes disenchanted and some unfortunate consequences flow. It has happened on Senator Schacht's side, and in the case of Mr Pratt, it is happening on our side.

  Let us just put that aside for the moment and look at the real question facing South Australian voters. I can tell honourable senators opposite, and they know, that in South Australia at the Federal election the Government will be in enormous trouble: because of the unemployment, because of the debt and because of the mess, it will be thrown out in the seat of Adelaide.

Senator Schacht —Why?

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crichton-Browne)—Order!

Senator Vanstone —You've had your go.

Senator HILL —You will be defeated in the seat of Adelaide; you will be defeated in the new seat of Hindmarsh; you will be defeated in the seat of Grey. I do not think you would even have the nerve to get up here and test your credibility—

Senator Faulkner —I rise on a point of order. This is a very interesting two-way conversation but I do believe Senator Hill should be called to order.

Senator Patterson —You should talk.

Senator Faulkner —I am on my feet taking a point of order. I ask that Senator Hill be called to order and be asked to direct his remarks through the Chair.

Senator HILL —The Government will be defeated in the seat of Grey, at the moment it would be defeated in the seat of Kingston—that is the seat where there is 55 per cent youth unemployment—and at the moment I believe the Government would be defeated in the seat of Makin as well. That would leave the Government with two Federal seats in South Australia. So I am not surprised that honourable senators opposite are desperate enough to come in here with this sort of cheap political shot.

  The Government does not deserve to hold those seats in South Australia and honourable senators opposite are demonstrating today why they do not deserve to hold those seats. Mention was made of David Lindsay, our candidate for the seat of Adelaide. He is a highly respected, competent leader of his profession.

Senator Schacht —I rise on a point of order. I quoted what Mr Pratt said about the Liberal candidate for Adelaide. I did not say that—I quoted Mr Pratt.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Schacht, there is no point of order, but if you claim to have been misrepresented you may do so.

Senator HILL —He is a former president of the Veterinarians Association in South Australia; he was a vice-president of the association for professional leaders in Australia. He is a community leader, is well respected, well regarded and will make a fine member for Adelaide. We look forward to his election; we look forward to his being part of a Hewson government after the next election.

  Would honourable senators like me to tell them about some of the other excellent candidates we have standing at the forthcoming election as well? Martin Gordon, who will win the seat of Kingston, is an accountant, highly reputable and hard working. He is the sort of person who can do something for the unemployed in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, which is more than honourable senators opposite are doing, simply coming in here seeking to take these political—

  Senator Schacht interjecting

Senator HILL —I said to the honourable senator, and he knows, that occasionally candidates who fail at preselections become disenchanted and say things that are unfortunate. Obviously, what Mr Pratt said today is unfortunate, because I think he made a good contribution as the member for Adelaide. But he was defeated. He was unsuccessful in one preselection and also in another preselection, and, therefore, he has taken this course of action.

  Senator Schacht cannot talk about independents in South Australia because there are three independents in the South Australian Parliament and two of them recently had to be bribed by being made Cabinet Ministers to ensure the Government of their vote. One of them was made Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in South Australia and the other two were given jobs in the Ministry to keep them quiet. That is the way Senator Schacht's show operates in South Australia, and the people of South Australia have woken up to it. They are sick of it in South Australia. They were sick of Bannon and he got out—and not too soon. He knew what was coming out in the Royal Commission, which was highly critical of his leadership of South Australia and his failures in relation to the bank. And people of South Australia do not see his successor as being any better, because he was in the South Australian Ministry at the time of the bank's failure as well.

  As a matter of interest, he was being briefed by one of the board members at that time, and the now Premier was then Minister of Industry, so he knew what was going on. He was part of the failure of the South Australian Government to stand up to the incompetence in the State Bank, both at administrative level and at the level of the board, and he has to wear part of the cost of that as well. Senator Schacht knows that South Australians know that and they are looking forward to throwing him out. That is why the Liberal Party in South Australia is so far ahead in the polls, because people are angry at the economic incompetence which has cost them so much. That is the background. That is why Senator Schacht felt the need to come in here and take a crack or two during this lunchtime debate, presumably hoping it would get reported somewhere at home.

  The only other point I wanted to make is to correct Senator Schacht in relation to Mr Olsen. There was no move at our last State Council meeting to expel John Olsen; no move at all. Mr Pratt was not at the meeting, Senator Schacht was not at the meeting. I was at the meeting—

Senator Robert Ray —Was the press there?

Senator HILL —The press was not there, no.

Senator Robert Ray —A secret meeting.

Senator HILL —We have the press at the annual general meeting.

Senator Robert Ray —But not at your State meeting.

Senator HILL —It is not normally our practice—does the Labor Party have them at its meetings?

Senator Schacht —Yes, always.

Senator HILL —Always?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! This is absolutely fascinating but I wonder whether the whole of the Senate might be included in the debate.

Senator HILL —We have nothing to hide. John Olsen is doing a fine job in the shadow ministry in South Australia, as he did a good job in this Senate—

  Opposition senators interjecting

Senator HILL —I tell you what, they will make a lot better government in South Australia than Senator Schacht's lot are doing at the moment. All I really rose to do, as Senator Schacht is wanting to peddle this incorrect information, is to make it clear that what he was reporting on in relation to our internal meeting was false.