Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 10 September 1958
Page: 1066

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- It was my intention to participate in this debate in order to talk about national development and water, but I cannot resist the opportunity to make a few glancing observations on the speech that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has just concluded. The honorable member has the characteristic of being convincing, but his performance this evening was most unconvincing. He failed, and failed in a singular fashion, to answer the devastating case presented by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) this evening.

Approximately four or five minutes after the Minister had said that the unemployment figures for last month showed a decline, the honorable member for Bendigospoke about growing unemployment. That is not an answer. The honorable member for Bendigo, commanding, as he undoubtedly does, a degree of intellectualhonesty, must admit that his charge thisevening that there is growing unemployment in Australia is completely false. The truth of the matter is this: The Labour party is a party that believes in unemployment. It is a party that believes in depression, in gloom and in despondency. I have styled it in this chamber before as a " 3D " party. Every time there is unemployment in the community the members of the Labour party try to cash in on the situation. The honorable member for East Sydney does not know whether to beat a drum or to go and play a piano.

I remind the committee, particularly the members who sit opposite, that if we were to take the yardstick presented to this Parliament some years ago by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) - the bold centurion from Parkes - that for all practical purposes 5 per cent, of unemployment could be regarded as full employment. 200,000 people could be out of work' in Australia to-day and there still would be full employment. The fact is that the percentage of unemployment is below 2 per cent. I would ask the members of the Opposition: How many of them have ever gone out of their way to assist men to obtain work in the last twelve months? I suggest that they could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The honorable member for Bendigo, referring to the serious charge made by the Minister for Labour and National Service concerning unity tickets, turned and said quite casually, " We will manage our own affairs ". In view of the unhappy events that have occurred in the Labour party in the last ten years, far be it from members of the Labour party to say that they can manage their own affairs. They could not run a bankrupt pie stall, and that is the truth. The honorable member for Bendigo presented what is in essence a valid argument. He asked what business it is of those who sit on the Government side to worry about unity tickets. Let me give an illustration for the consideration of every serious-minded honorable member, and that would remove to oblivion the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). Let me show how unity tickets can destroy democratic government. I refer to Czechoslovakia. In February, 1945, 75 per cent, of trade unionists in Czechoslovakia were anti-Communists. In June, 1945, by the unity ticket device, every trade union in Czechoslovakia was Communist-controlled. Then in October, 1948, the Communistcontrolled trade union movement led the coup against the Czechoslovakian Government. Czechoslovakia was reduced to the position of a servile state. That is the concern of honorable members on this side and of every thinking person in Australia.

A few weeks ago in this Parliament I proved, I thought at the time, to the satisfaction of every reasonable minded honorable member that in Queensland, in the Waterside Workers Federation election, there was a specific illustration of members of the Australian Labour party collaborating openly with members of the Communist party. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) with feigned innocence, said " I do not know what the honorable member for Moreton was referring to ". I pointed out to the right honorable gentleman that the Queensland central executive of the Labour party, when asked by the Waterside Workers Federation delegate to the Queensland central executive what was the position regarding unity tickets, declared that for industrial purposes they were quite in order; that there was a ban only during political elections. That is the charge that remains heavily against every honorable member who sits on the opposite side of this Parliament. There is the charge - up till now it has been completely untouched - that remains against every member of the Labour party outside this parliament. The fact is that the people of Australia will judge the members of the Labour party, not on the hasty and hurried moves regarding unity tickets and what is said by their leader on this occasion, but on its actions. I am willing to wager that those Labour party members of the Waterside Workers Federation in Brisbane who collaborated with the Communist party on unity tickets will not be expelled from the Labour party. I have been told that the Leader of the Opposition is a little distressed because I raised the question of unity tickets in the Parliament, and that he will try to effect a form of reprisal against me by coming into my electorate and staging a sort of Nuremberg rally there. I shall be only too happy to arrange a rally for the Leader of the Opposition in my electorate. Every minute that he stays in the electorate will be worth 1,000 votes to me.

I turn from that somewhat controversial issue to an issue upon which I hope there will be agreement on both sides of the Parliament. I refer to water conservation and national development. I want to refer, very briefly, perforce, to a scheme propounded some years ago by the late Dr. J. J. C. Bradfield. It came to be known as the Bradfield scheme. It is some twenty years since Dr. Bradfield propounded his scheme. It is about twelve years since his proposal for water conservation on a massive scale in central Australia received anything in the nature of critical analysis. I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is at the table, will convey to the Government my suggestion that the Bradfield concept - because it is a concept rather than a scheme - should be reappraised. The late Dr. Bradfield did not produce any detailed ideas regarding the workings of his concept, but many people in Australia to-day remain attracted in a very firm fashion to it.

I should like briefly to outline what the Bradfield concept amounted to. First of all, it laid down that the waste waters from coastal rivers should be diverted into the inland. That involved a host of northern Queensland rivers. Secondly, the Bradfield concept involved the damming of water in the Macdonnell and Musgrave ranges and in the Finke, Neale, Hamilton, and Todd rivers in central Australia. Thirdly, the Bradfield concept envisaged the construction of great dams on the rivers of the plains - for example, the Cooper at Kullymurra Gorge near Innamincka - and similar storage tanks on Strzelecki Creek and at Hunter's Gorge on the Diamantina southwest of Winton. There have been many critics of Dr. Bradfield's concept. I believe that it would be an eminently satisfactory expenditure of money, even to the extent of £100,000, to receive an up-to-date critical analysis and appraisement of the Bradfield concept. Years ago, when Mr.

O'Connor put forward his proposal for the construction of a pipeline from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie, many people said that it was completely impossible. One can go back, to the year 2205 B.C., when a Chinese engineer, referring to the Szechuan Plain, declared that if water could be got into that plain people could live and thrive there. To-day the Szechuan Plain supports 43,000,000 people. Then again one can go to the state of Bikaner in India, where 500,000 people are living alongside a concretelined canal constructed in the Thar Desert. If the Bradfield concept is practical, it would mean that 5,000,000 people could be brought to this country and could find a living in central Australia. At the moment, very few people live there.

The discussions that have taken place in this Parliament over the last few weeks indicate quite conclusively that water is the lubricant of Australia's economy. When we are struck by a drought our dependence on water is manifested in more ways than one. I appeal to the Minister for the Army to ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to collaborate with the Queensland Government in an effort to secure an up-to-date appraisal of the Bradfield concept. If the concept is practical and we do nothing about it, it may well be that future generations of Australians will do something about it, and, as they labour, they will curse us for our indifference. They will irrigate and bring water to central Australia, but they will do it in a state of extreme slavery.

Suggest corrections