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
Thursday, 26 February 1959

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- The uninspiring address just concluded by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) is an indication that for once the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has shown some judgment by not elevating the honorable gentleman to the second-rate Ministry that to-day rules this country. The honorable member's speech came from a dis.appointed aspirant to a position in the Ministry. The honorable gentleman scraped into this Parliament because a number of unintelligent Liberals did not vote the ticket, and he was hailed as the white hope of the Liberal party on financial matters. But if the honorable gentleman's speech to-day is an indication of what we could expect from him as Treasurer of this country, I think that for once we must condone the action of the Prime Minister in condemning the honorable member, apparently for an indefinite time, to the back benches.

The Governor-General's Speech generally deals with -what the Governor-General on this occasion described as " matters of great national moment". The Speech was a particularly strange one on this occasion. It was, I suppose, one of the dreariest ever recorded, and it is significant that in the second-last paragraph of the Speech the Government announced that it intended to amend the -bankruptcy laws. In the last paragraph of the Speech the GovernorGeneral prayed for divine guidance for this Parliament. Fair enough, because undoubtedly there will be bankruptcy under the .policy of the Government, and it looks as if the salvation of the people, if the Government continues in office, will depend on -divine intervention.

The programme outlined in the Speech is a disappointing programme from every point of view. The Speech was delivered with great dignity by the Governor-General. I respect his position, and appreciate the dignity with which he carried out a very difficult task on this occasion. But the Speech was a long, dreary dirge, quite uninspiring and most disappointing. It was -uninteresting, and was more like a panegyric than .an address setting out "the policy .of a government. It did not .contain a bold plan for this young country, Australia, which has a great future. It did not contain a 'plan for a country crying out for a dynamic policy to inspire the people, lt tired and depressed honorable members and senators from all sides of the Parliament.

The spectators were so uninterested in it that they became drowsy as they listened to it. The people of Australia are disgusted by the attitude of the Government and its approach to their problems.

I make these few comments in a constructive way in the hope that the administration will realize that this country expects its government to give the people leadership and something to hope for instead of the outdated policies that have characterized Liberal administrations over the years.

I want to say a few words now about new members, Mr. Speaker, and others. I join in the congratulations to honorable members from all States who have made their maiden speeches. I trust that the new members on the Labour side will remain here indefinitely in order to give effect to the policies of the Labour party in the interests of the Australian people. To the new members on the Government side, unfortunately, I cannot hold out such a rosy prospect, because if they are judged ultimately on the record of the Government some of them, unfortunately for them, but for the good of Australia, are destined to a short, though possibly a joyous, term in this Parliament.

To Mr. Speaker, who is not here at the moment, I would like to say that it was with regret that I learned that the Government had endeavoured to replace him with somebody who would do its bidding in this House. That was a monstrous thing for any government to do. We on this side have always believed that the Speaker should be above Parliament and individuals. In my opinion, a Speaker who is re-elected to office by the unanimous vote of the House is a man who has endeavoured to carry out his duties fairly and impartially. I regret, therefore, that the Government saw fit to attempt to replace Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, so many Government members have congratulated Mr. Speaker on his re-election that it is a wonder to me that he was not unopposed for the position, on the Government side. So far, nobody on that side has admitted to not voting for Mr. Speaker when he was selected for office by the Government parties. But the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), who unsuccessfully sought the support of his party in a bid to occupy the position of

Speakerin this Parliament, has since the election continually endeavoured to impress upon honorable members the need to observe Standing Orders, and he has taken points of order and raised matters of that nature. Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you would pass on to Mr. Speaker my advice, you would tell him to trust not Trebonius because 1 feel that, while the honorable member is temporarily divorced from the chair, he seeks to take the honour from Mr. Speaker in the not too distant future.

I extend my congratulations to the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), who has been elevated to the position of Chairman of Committees. I hope that he will be impartial when dealing with members on this side of the chamber and will do justice to the position to which he has been elected.

It is inevitable that great changes must take place in a Parliament. I was elected to this House on 23rd September, 1943. On studying the records, I find that the House of Representatives had 75 members at that time. However, only eighteen of those 75 members now occupy seats in the Parliament. Only five of the 30 senators of that time are left. That shows the high rate of turnover of members of Parliament and stresses the fact that those honorable members on either side of the House who look upon their positions as permanent ones are certainly not looking at the matter in the right light. Changes occur on both sides of the Parliament.

We are told of the unity of the Liberal and Australian Country parties. But I wonder what the former member for Wimmera, Mr. Lawrence, who thought he was destined to be a great Speaker in this Parliament, thinks to-day when he reads of his colleague-in-arms of the Australian Country party sitting in his place in this House. I wonder what that distinguished ex-serviceman, Mr. Bostock, who formerly was the member for Indi, thinks of the unity of the Liberal and Australian Country parties when he reads of an Australian Country party member sitting in his place in this House. I wonder what the most expensive politician on earth, the former member for Moore, Mr. Leslie, who used to sit alongside us here, thinks of the Liberal party member who occupies his position in this House. This is a dog-eat-dog attitude and shows that the alleged unity of the

Liberal and Australian Country parties and the good fellowship between them is merely talk. I shall deal in a moment with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who is interjecting. We find that the background of the Australian Country party is the same as usual. In the hurly-burly of politics, the party has added to its ranks a solicitor, a grocer and a wine and spirit merchant. We can all see the background!

Then, if we go further, we find that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), who took over a large rural electorate, was elected on a joint LiberalAustralian Country party ticket. But the Australian Country party claimed him as its own. It. said, " This man is the darling of the Australian Country party. He will take his place in our ranks and be to the forefront of the party in the Parliament ". But what did he do? He was president of the party. He came to Canberra, had a look at the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and immediately deserted the cactus, went down to the " big smoke " and joined the " city slickers " of the Liberal party. I hear from close and intimate sources that the reason he deserted the Australian Country party was that he could not find a farmer to sit with in that party.

That gives us an idea of the background of these men. But let us go a little further. The Australian Country party is an interesting collection of people. At present, the leader of the Country party in New South Wales is touring that State telling the people to vote against the Labour Government because it sanctioned the introduction of the one-armed bandits. But what do we find in the Australian Country party here? It now has a legalized " bandidt " in its ranks. He has taken his place in the Parliament and, although he is the only " bandidt " in name, there are plenty of others there who are anonymous, so he should feel completely at home.

My remarks have given an idea of the background of the party and the changes that have taken place. They also highlight the fact that the so-called unity between the Liberal and Australian Country parties is a sham and a farce. Any one who says that the Australian Country party in this Parliament represents the rural people should look at the occupations of its members and their background. I doubt whether we could find one member who had any connexion with country people at all. Country party members are possibly not as close to rural affairs as was the former Minister for Primary Industry, who had only a plastic hose and a few pot plants.

We have heard the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and other honorable members complain about the wool position. The people should know what Australian Country party members are doing to increase the consumption of wool. Most ot them, as we all know, wear " ersatz " suits. They wear nylon shirts and most of them have Japanese artificial silk ties. To round off the picture, most of them wear synthetic smiles. In addition, at the recent ball in Parliament House, their womenfolk, who looked charming, were wearing nylon or orion frocks. All this happened in face of the campaign to encourage people to wear more wool. If it is any satisfaction to the members of the Australian Country party, I inform them that I have read - and noticed in photographs at which I have glanced occasionally - that Sabrina wears wool because she finds it cooler in our climate. In that respect, some contribution is being made to ensure that the wool industry remains sound.

The honorable member for Wentworth had a little to say about mumbling Ministers. He said that there ought to have been a clean sweep, in some respects. There should have been a clean sweep on the Government side of the House, because the uninspiring collection of Ministers who have been elected will certainly spread gloom throughout the land. I think that the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), who was previously Minister for the Interior, is the unluckiest man in the Parliament. I could not imagine any man with intelligence being left out of the Ministry, particularly the former Minister who rendered commendable service. To those honorable members opposite who look ambitiously towards the front bench, let me say that we on this side have a good view of the occupants of that bench and we have come to the conclusion tha: honorable members on the back benches opposite are very lucky. Quite truthfully, they have not much to beat. It is in a way a small insult to them that they have been passed over.

I join with others in extending sympathy to them in having been passed over for those who have been elected.

The honorable member for Wentworth was not complimentary to some Ministers. He referred to them as mumbling Ministers, but he is lucky. We on this side of the House, sometimes hear the replies that are given to/ questions, and I can say that- they are not worth- listening, to. The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister had this in view when he knighted the former Leader of the Senate. He also knighted Senator Cooper, and surely that is the nod to get out. He must realize that he has problems to carry- this Ministry indefinitely with such white hopes behind them.-

Mr Calwell - He should have crowned them!

Mr DALY - That is correct. 1 notice in- the- Governor-General's Speech that the Government will deal with the Antarctic. The. question of outer space is also coming into consideration now. One thing we can say about members of' the Government is that the only area in- which they have not travelled is outer space. I suppose the Governor-General had that in mind when he spoke on this occasion. Some honorable members opposite went to the South Pole in the middle of the last election campaign, and as far as we on this side of the House know, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is now assured of the penguin vote; most people have deserted him. Right through the list of Ministers we find the same situation. This is a most uninspiring Ministry with a most uninspiring programme and a real dirge for a GovernorGeneral's Speech. The only part of the opening of Parliament worth noting was the way in which His Excellency read the Speech. He did his best in an exceedingly difficult situation.

I feel that in this opening session of the Parliament it is important to know the background of the Australian Country party and to be aware of the relations that it has with the Liberal party. In all honesty, we should not have an Australian Country party masquerading as the friend of the farmers when very few of its members know anything about the land. We should not allow Government supporters to speak about unity and disunity when we see them replacing each other in the Parliament in a dog-eat-dog attitude, and trying to hide thetrue position from the Australian people. We should enlighten the people on these matters. We look to-day, amongst other things, at a number of political accidents. I say this most sincerely. Honorable members opposite seem to be a reasonable collection of members, but they should make the most of their position because they just will not be back here again. It is well- to warn- them in advance so that they will know what will happen.

I" want to deal with one or two matters apart' from the background that I have given. I want to say particularly that I should have thought that the" Government's programme in this day and age would have contained some statement on defence. The Government should have given a broad programme on this subject - if it has one. I thought that the Governor-General's Speech might have contained something about overseas borrowing and how this country has been placed in pawn by the policy of this Government. I thought there might have been a progressive approach to the problem of relieving the position of the 100,000 people who are seeking homes to-day but cannot find them because of the policy of this Government. I thought that, with the huge resources at the disposal of the Postmaster-General's Department to-day, we would see some alleviation in respect not only of charges but also of benefits to employees in that department. I thought that the neglected, the poor, the sick, the infirm and all those people dependent upon social services would be given some benefit by the Government, and that the necessary legislation would be reviewed in the Governor-General's Speech. I thought particularly that those people who depend entirely on pensions would be able to look forward to something much more beneficial to them than the pittance that is handed out to them to-day by this Government.

But what do we find? Practically nothing is mentioned in detail. No programme has been brought forward, and the Government now seeks not only to curtail the sittings of the Parliament but also to bring down legislation, which, broadly, will not affect the vast majority of the people, who will derive no benefit from it. One kind of legislation will shortly be before us for discussion - the Government's banking legislation. The introduction of this legislation means that, once again, the agents of toryism and conservatism, and of the private banks of this country, will attack- the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. It means that the Government is seeking, to destroy completely as a people's bank the Commonwealth Bank as we know it. The Australian Labour party will oppose this legislation, because it is the. protector' of the people's bank. It was under Labour's administration that the bank was built up to the powerful organization which it is to-day. 1 was a member of this Parliament when the nationalization ot banking was dealt with, and I think that the day must ultimately come, when Labour must give effect to the policy of the nationalization of banking in order to protect the people's interests in the Commonwealth Bank. The growth of monopolies in banking, television and various other fields of enterprise under the administration of this Government is evidence of the Government's continuing policy, particularly in regard to finance and banking, which undoubtedly will place the people in pawn to the private banking interests of this country again, if it is not stopped, and Government supporters know it.

Mr Anderson - What about-

Mr DALY - An Australian Country party member should know better than to interject when a Labour member is defending the Commonwealth Bank, because farmers all over Australia know that in the depression years it was the Commonwealth Bank which gave them some degree of salvation, and would have saved them entirely, for that matter, had it not been for the opposition in the Senate of members of the Australian Country party and the party that was the forerunner of the Liberal party of Australia.

Mr Calwell - And the Commonwealth Bank Board, also.

Mr DALY - The Commonwealth Bank Board has been re-established. Big banking interests control it and completely direct the Commonwealth Bank in what it shall do. The Government seeks, by means of its banking legislation, to destroy completely the security, stability and independence of the Commonwealth Bank, and its capacity to force the other banks to lend money to the people at a reasonable rate of interest for vital purposes. It is for that reason, among others, that Labour will oppose the Government's banking legislation in this Parliament. To-day, the private banks are interested only in lending money for hire-purchase business at very- high rates of interest. People cannot get money for homes, but they can get all the money, they want, at exorbitant rates of interest, in order to buy, say, a Kelvinator refrigerator for a house, that they cannot buy, but are forced to rent, if they can get it. This, is reactionary finance on the part of thisGovernment, and, accordingly, the Australian Labour party will oppose the bankings bills.

One wonders whether this Government' will take any notice of what was said in this chamber this morning, and what wassaid last evening- by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), about the growth of monopoly in television in this country-. In a splendid speech last evening, the honorable member for Lang outlined the great link-up between the newspaper and radio interests, and the huge monopoly control that they have over this great medium of publicity. This Government has given away the rights of Australians to any freedom of expression by the manner in which it has issued television licences. The Packers and the Hendersons, the " Daily Telegraph " and various other newspaper interests in this country, control entirely this medium of publicity, and the Government has gone counter to recommendations made by men appointed by it, because it seeks to serve its masters in this great field of propaganda. If honorable members care to check on what has been done, they will find that, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said this morning, television interests are at present acting contrary to the provisions of the Broadcasting Act by the manner in which they are selling shares- in television stations about1 to be established in Brisbane. If honorable1 members study the report and recommendations made by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) in connexion with the granting of television licences in Brisbane, they will find that Associated Newspapers Limited, John Fairfax and Sons Proprietary Limited, the proprietors of radio station 2UE;

Sydney, and a dozen or more similar enterprises control entirely the television industry in this country. The tragedy of television in Australia is that a Labour government was not in office to give effect to Labour's policy of the nationalization of television in the interests of the Australian people.

What did we find recently when the Cahill Labour Government in New South Wales was under attack? We found that only people who had attacked the Cahill Government were invited to be interviewed in television broadcasts from ABN Channel 9, and leading commentators from the parliamentary press galleries, and penetrating questioners, were left at home in order that they should not be able to ask pertinent questions. If the " Sydney Morning Herald" or the "Daily Telegraph" do not like a person, they make sure that he is interviewed on television and kicked around by the ''interviewer who questions him. To-day, the Liberal party, which boasts - quite wrongly - of its regard for the freedom of the subject and the liberty of the people, should know that if television is placed in the hands of the unscrupulous newspapers of this country it can easily be turned against the interests of any democratically elected member of Parliament. It is tragic to see the way in which, at the behest of big business and outside interests, the Government has sold out the people's rights by giving control over this influential medium of propaganda to the few people who control the newspapers and radio of this country, and who will use television for their own purposes.

There is nothing worth-while that we can see in the Speech that is the subject of this Address-in-Reply, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We have to read between the lines and discover what the Government has left out of it in order to show that this Administration is hiding a lot from the Australian people and that it has no real intention of doing anything effective for them. I have pointed out certain things to you, Sir, so that you and other members of the Parliament will realize that a change of government is necessary, and the people will ultimately awaken to the fact that the Government has sold out to the huge monopolies, the private banks and other interests, and that it cares little for the aged, the sick and the infirm, people who want homes, and young couples who are trying to rear children. This Government represents only big business interests. 1 conclude what I hope has been a constructive and objective speech on this note: We live in an age of jet-propulsion, an age of atomic and nuclear weapons, an age when Sputniks circle in outer space, an age when the moon is the target of man's ambitions. We live in an age when time and distance mean little because of the brilliance of man's inventions. Yet, in this dynamic age, we in Australia face the future with a Prime Minister who, as it were, drives a horse and buggy loaded with a Cabinet and a party whose thinking is tedious and tortuous, and which are unable to grasp the needs and opportunities of our time. The Government is planning the future of our country with the speed of a man in a bullock dray. Clearly, the outlook for this young country is most depressing while it continues in office.

Suggest corrections