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Tuesday, 10 May 1960

Mr KELLY (Wakefield) .- I had the impression that, although this was the National Parliament, honorable members came into it with a real affection for their own States. I am proud to stand up as a South Australian to support this bill under which South Australia, for the last time I hope, will receive assistance as a mendicant State through the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This is an historic occasion on which the State of South Australia is saying, in effect, " We will to go it alone ".

This achievement has not been easy. We have a great many natural disadvantages in South Australia. We have a very poor, rainfall. I never cease to be envious of, New South Wales and Victoria in which States you can drive for hundreds of miles, and still be in good rainfall areas. In South Australia only a fringe of country has a sound rainfall. Much of our land is poorer than that which is used in any other country. It is poorer in soil texture and poorer in fertility. It is only because of the tech,niques and energy that we have used that we have been able to develop the 90-mile desert and similar areas. We are not rich, in minerals. We have no black coal. We, lack many resources.

Mr Pearce - The Labour Party did not mention that.

Mr KELLY - No. Those are some of: the obstacles that we have had to surmount. Up to recently, we have had a small popula-tion. We have not had sufficient people orsecondary industries to be able to take advantage of the fiscal policy of the Com1monwealth which naturally encouraged the development of secondary industries in the largely populated States and cities. We have had to do it the hard way. It has not been an easy struggle. In spite of these handicaps we have increased our status from that of a poor State which depended on the Commonwealth for aid until, now, when we are proud to say that we are no longer a mendicant State.

How did we do it? There are two reasons, I should think. One is the quality of the people of our State. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) made the point that no credit had been given to the workers of our State. I would say definitely that one of the reasons that we have come out of our former position is the quality of our people and they, of course, include the workers of all classes. I am not claiming for our people that we are paragons of virtue and possess all the attributes. You, Mr. Speaker, of course, would be a brilliant exception to that statement, but the rest of us have many drawbacks. People are quick to point out that we are a stodgy and conservative people, that Adelaide on a Sunday afternoon is a rather dull place and that we have not a King's Cross to gladden our hearts.

But we have certain attributes, and one of them is ability to settle down and face our responsibilities as a people - to knuckle down and do our own work. That is one of the factors that has brought us out of the position we were in. The other is that we have had sound government for a long time. All honorable members know that. I think there would not be any member of this House who does not envy South Australia the quality of its Government. We have had a vigorous, imaginative and hardworking government, led by a premier with all those attributes and one more - the attribute of being a great leader. Those are the kind of qualities which have led us, as a people, from the position we were in 20 or 30 years ago to where we are to-day. I should have thought that would have been cause for pride on the part of all South Australians. I know it is to me, and I should imagine it is so to most of my fellow South Australians. But that does not seem to be the case with the Labour members from South Australia who have spoken in this debate.

As I have already said, by the initiative of our people and the quality of our Govern ment, we have surmounted the last obstacle in our path. But even as the Premier puts his head over that last obstacle, he is kicked in the teeth by the people who have been lolling in the shadow of irresponsibility while all this progress has been going on. I should have thought that all South Australians would look upon the performance of our State with a proper sense of pride. I believe most of them do, but there seems to be an element here that is trying to make petty, party capital by pouring scorn on South Australia's achievements. South Australian members on the other side who have adopted that attitude have done neither themselves nor their cause any good by so doing. During the week-end I met many South Australian Labour supporters who said to me, " Now, leave me out of this kind of criticism; I won't be in this. I am proud of the things that our State and our workers have done ".

I shall not enter into argument about what has been done in New South Wales compared with South Australia's achievements. That aspect has been effectively dealt with by many of the speakers on this side, particularly the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). If anybody wants to find fault it is easy to find something wrong if one looks hard enough. For example, some one might compare the percentage of houses in Sydney connected to the sewer with the number so served in Adelaide. Even then different people would draw different conclusions. But I do not think that that is the sort of thing we should be discussing in a National Parliament. To Labour members who have been complaining I say that if they do not like the conditions in South Australia they can go to New South Wales if they think it would be better. But I have not noticed any rush of people from South Australia across the border. If there has been any movement, it has been to South Australia.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made a particular attack on the South Australian Premier and asked what could have steeled him in his resolution to go it alone. He asked whether it was vanity. Could it be anything but vanity? I can think of plenty of reasons for the Premier's attitude. One of them - it eats like a canker at the root of our national development - is the imbalance between one State and another, and the States and the Commonwealth. This is a problem which all federations face. We in Australia have faced it in the past and will continue to face it in the future - the dependence of one State on the Commonwealth and the problem of one State being poorer than another. I should have thought that that fact would be accepted by all of us as a motive for South Australia to go it alone. If we can now stand on our own flat feet, if we have demonstrated that we are able to go it alone and cease to be a burden on the rest of the Commonwealth, I should think that is sufficient motive for any State to go forward and take this big step.

Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh want any other reasons? There is another. All of us agree that any young man who wants to stand on his own feet, takes the responsibility for his mistakes and credit for his achievements, does the kind of thinking that will make him develop. It is the kind of thinking that has made Australia great in the past - the feeling of independence, adventure and initiative. That is the quality that has made this country. It is totally opposite to the spirit of sitting in deck chairs waiting around to be helped by a good government. Is not this spirit of adventure that has characterized every true Australian to be accepted as a motive for South Australia taking its step? Has not the Premier, in that spirit, demonstrated true statesmanship and encouraged that kind of thinking? I should have thought so, but evidently Labour members from my State do not think so.

I have been most interested to observe that the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) has not taken part in this debate. I am not surprised. He knows better than anybody else the contributions that have been made by the State Government to the big towns in his electorate, such as Whyalla, Iron Knob, Port Pirie and Port Augusta. That spirit of enterprise and progress has made South Australia great and has developed a good deal of the electorate of the honorable member for Grey. I am very glad to find that he has not been on his feet yapping at the heels of the Premier. I congratulate the State Government on what it has done in the past, what it is doing in the present and I look forward with confidence to what it will do in the future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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