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, 30 August 1972
Page: 927

Mr McLEAY (Boothby) (Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation) - I thought it might be a good idea to bring the debate back to the subject of the Budget and to dissociate myself from some of the remarks made by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), particularly his personal remarks about my colleagues and his attack on some of the Arab states. That racist attack could well cause a diplomatic war here. I take the view that the Budget is a highly successful and highly responsible document. There is a difference between motions moved by honourable members on this side of the House and amendments moved by honourable members opposite because whatever we promise-

Mr Foster - I can't put up with you, mate.

Mr McLEAY - I am very relieved that the honourable member for Sturt is leaving the chamber. It will give me a chance to say something. The amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the promises that he has made are unattainable. The position is that we are in Government and whatever we promise, we have to deliver. That is exactly what we will do during the course of the next few weeks. I would like to draw attention - I do not think it has been done yet - to certain deficiencies in the statements of the Leader of the Opposition which have accumulated over the last few months and in particular I would like to draw attention to his amendment. If one examines the amendment carefully one will find no reference whatsoever to defence, costing or taxation. He attacked the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). and accused him of, using rhetoric. I think that is. a typical ploy of a person who has done just that himself.

We on this side of the House - I think 1 can speak for us all - put defence at the top of our priorities. If we have not enough gumption to defend our country or if we are not prepared to defend it and to make available the necessary expenditure, then we do not deserve to have the country. It was interesting to note that the Leader of the Opposition did not even mention defence in his amendment; nor did he mention taxation, for the simple reason that he would have to increase taxation enormously to finance the promises which he. has made. What I have done is, as far as possible, to cost some of the promises made by the Leader of the Opposition. This was difficult because they are all so very vague. The first promise was simple to cost. He advocated an immediate pension and unemployment benefit payment of $100m. The second one was a reduction in sales tax. He did not indicate by how much he would reduce this tax, but I imagine that there would be an across the board reduction of, say 10 per cent which would mean a cost of $70m for the current year. He said that he would lift unemployment benefits, but again he did not say by how much. The Government has increased them from $44m to $77m, a rise of 20 per cent. I expect that it would be reasonable-

Dr GUN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is because there are so many unemployed.

Mr McLEAY - Do not get too excited, old friend. The Government has provided for an increase of 20 per cent. I imagine that honourable members opposite would say, if we could pin them to a figure, that Labor would give at least a 10 per cent increase in benefits, which is half of what we have done. So, there would be an increase of $12m in unemployment benefits. The Leader of the Opposition said that if Labor is elected it will increase hospital benefits, but once again he did not say by how much. I imagine that it would be by at least as much as we have increased them, that is, by $43m. So, we have to include that amount. The Leader of the Opposition has said on several occasions that, when elected, the Labor Party will spend enormous amounts of money on schools, preschool education and free universities. This promise has been costed publicly. It is estimated that in one year the cost would be $540m. In an instant policy decision of his own - not one of his Party's - he announced that he would see that the means test was abolished. I do not know why the age should be 69 years. On our costing, net or after tax and prior to the new rates of pension, this would cost $200m.

Those half a dozen items on their own total over Sl,000m or $1 billion, yet they do not include various other promises which I will mention very briefly. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he will increase pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. I do not know what that would cost. He will introduce a national insurance policy. Heaven knows what that would cost. His promise in regard to urban transport would cost at least as much as his education promise. He said that he would pick up the tab on the deficits incurred by the railway systems. 1 listened last night to the speech of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who made the point that that is exactly what the Labor Party would do. Whether Labor would refer this matter to the Labor Premiers and the other Premiers or not, he did not say. He was delightfully impractical, because the net loss by State railway systems over the last 12 months amounted to $66m. So, that amount would have to be added to the cost of the other promises. In one breath the honourable member for Newcastle said that he would upgrade urban transport and in the next breath he was critical of the amount being spent on roads. He did not mention how Labor would finance its proposals.

The Leader of the Opposition mentioned also the ownership of Australian resources and how Labor would control these resources. Presumably he means our mineral resources. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) talked about extra home savings grants and reduced interest rates on housing mortgage loans, should a Labor government be elected to office. He, said in his speech yesterday that a Labor government would acquire land for home building purposes. He did not say . where, a Labor government would get the money. He said that a Labor government would reduce to 4 per cent the interest rate charged to borrowers. That cannot be done without cost because the Government has to borrow money overseas at rates of 6 per cent and 7 per cent. So where does the money come from? That is what we want to know. I hope that the speaker from the Opposition side who follows me in this debate will give us some information on this.

Mr Daly - You will not be disappointed.

Mr McLEAY - Thank you. We do not want a personal denigration, in relation to some other attitudes; we want direct answers as to where the money will come from. Company tax cannot be increased any more, I would not think, because Australia is one of the highest taxed countries in the world for company tax. So, the money can only come from direct taxation or by cutting down on the defence vote, because Labor proposes to give more money for everything else, across the whole spectrum. I take the view that this is a completely irresponsible attitude - financially and morally. The cost of reducing tax for the family man, as announced in the Budget, is S480m a year. If we were to agree that some of the Labor Party proposals could be financed there would be an increase in taxation on the family man by 10 per cent or 15 per cent. Heaven knows by how much, because the

Labor Party has not been explicit enough on this matter. What I am asking the honourable member who is to follow me in this debate to do is to be completely honest and tell us where the money will come from, whether or not taxes will be increased and whether or not the defence vote will be reduced.

I draw attention to a couple of matters of ideology on which honourable members opposite are very much astray. Their proposal to lend money at special interest rates to people who borrow money on home mortgages is not really in the interests of people on lower incomes because the higher the mortgage the higher the saving. In regard to the abolition of the means test, we do not know why the Leader of the Opposition has selected the age of 69 years. This is not in accordance with Labor policy. It is also not to accordance with Labor's philosophy because it tends to make the margin between the poor and the wealthy even greater. So I hope that the honourable member who follows me will answer some of the questions I pose. What about the service pensioner who is 60 years of age? Will he, under a Labor government, get a pension in this new plan? What about certain categories of widows? What about the fringe benefits? Does the Labor Party propose to nationalise the doctors or in some way force the doctors to come into such a scheme? These are questions we would like answered. We do not consider that it is a properly considered policy. It has something for everybody. It is full of tricks and contradictions.

Because there is not much time left to me in this debate I will skip over a few matters and discuss what is activating the Leader of the Opposition and the reason why he is panicking. There is no doubt that he is really in a panic at the moment. I think that the true answer is that the Leader of the Opposition is terribly worried about the result of the next election and he is terribly worried about his own leadership. I believe that his actions are those of a totally insecure man - and when one looks around him it is no wonder. There is no doubt that if an election were held today for the leadership of the Labor Party in this place the

Caucus of that Party would dump him. He has shifted his position from that of an apparent right winger right round to that of an obvious left winger. He has attacked some of his colleagues quite unnecessarily and has lost their support. Just in the last day or so we have seen a disagreement between him and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) over revaluation. Whatever one says about the honourable member for Dawson, there is no doubt that he has at least an academic knowledge of rural matters. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition probably would not know a bull from a cow. I am quite sure that he does not even begin to recognise a steer. He had a disagreement with the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) over the feather-bedding of pensioners statement. He has managed to upset a number of good loyal members of the Party.

We remember in the last 12 months or so the Leader of the Opposition's repudiation on immigration of the honourable member for Grayndler, the architect of Labor's immigration policy. The honourable member for Grayndler cannot have any love for his Leader. The Leader could never safely rely on his vote in a Caucus leadership struggle if one took place now. We also know where the honourable "member for Reid is placed in the spectrum. Does anybody think that the honourable member for Reid would support the Leader of the Opposition in a leadership struggle? We remember what happened in the redistribution affair when the Leader of the Opposition interferred in an attempt to get endorsement for his son. Do not tell me that the honourable member for Reid would support the Leader of the Opposition in a struggle for leadership of the Labor Party.

I have a great affection for the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls), as I have for some other honourable members opposite. Not all the good guys are on this side of the chamber. Most of them are, but there are some good ones on the other side. I was very much distressed by an incident involving the honourable member for Bonython. About 6 or 7 years ago the Leader of the Opposition appeared on the Seven Days' programme on ATN7 in Sydney. In an interview in which the

Federal Executive of the Labor Party was discussed the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:

One of our mates, Mr Martin Nicholls who has been in the House of Representatives for 2 years - I am certain nobody outside his own State has heard of him . . .

Does any honourable member think that the Leader of the Opposition could rely on the support of the honourable member for Bonython in a leadership struggle? Do not honourable members think that the Leader of the Opposition is enormously worried because of the lack of support for him not only in caucus but outside in the ALP organisation? On the same television programme, talking about Mr Chamberlain, Mr Hartley and some other moderate people on the Executive, he said that 4 other members of the Federal Executive were members of the Parliament. He said that only one of them - Mr Webb - had ever made the grade or ever would make the grade in the Federal Parliament. He said that Mr Webb was the only one who would ever be a Minister. But Mr Harry Webb has been dumped oS the front bench of the Labor Party. I do not know the names of the other 3 members to whom the Leader of the Opposition referred but if I were one of them the Leader of the Opposition would not get my support in any caucus vote. in going through the list of people behind the Leader of the Opposition who have been upset by him one comes to the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). I think it is fair to say that the honourable member for Lalor and I take different views on a number of matters, but we all know where he stands. He does not change position. You can trust him. Some years ago the Leader of the Opposition repudiated the honourable member for Lalor on Vietnam and other matters. The Leader of the Opposition has now taken up a position further to the left than the honourable member for Lalor on Vietnam, breaking the law and so on. His actions are like those of the prima ballerina in the ballet 'Swan Lake'. He tippy toes to the right a couple of paces; then he tippy toes to the left a couple of paces; then he does a pirouette, with Mr Hawke playing the male lead.

The Leader of the Opposition has problems outside this place in Labor's organisa tion. I remind honourable members of what happened in the New South Wales election of delegates to the ALP Federal Conference. Normally the New South Wales delegates are moderates and right wingers. Whatever else they may be, they are strong supporters of the Leader of the Opposition. But in the last election there was a strong move to the left with the election of Mr Heffernan, Mr Gietzelt and their dear old friend Mr Robert Gould, manager of the Third World Bookshop, as delegates. Mr Gould is so far to the left that he thinks that card carrying communists are moderates. In academic circles Professor Arndt of the Australian National University has resigned from the Labor Party organisation because of the behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition in China. He did not resign because of the Leader of the Opposition's trip to China but ' because of his behaviour there. All the way along the line the Leader of the Opposition is losing support. He is very worried and that is why he is making extravagant promises. He will promise anything to get a vote.

The Leader of the Opposition looks over his shoulder and sees Mr Hawke. Both Mr Hawke and the Leader pf the Opposition look over their collective shoulders and see Mr Carmichael and Mr Halfpenny. Dare I mention them? They are the communist strong men in the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. He sees amalgamations to the right of him while to the left the communists are getting stronger and stronger in the grass roots organisation of his Party. He sees what men like Mr . Mundey have been doing. The Leader of the Opposition adopts the classic attitude of coming out strongly and then running away from the brawl. About six or seven years ago he said

I will resign if the Party takes no action against collaboration between AL? and communist unionists.

He made that sort of statement on 2 or 3 occasions. Although he threatened to resign about 7 years ago he is still there. I think I should also refer to the Townsville declaration which we fleetingly referred to by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). It is part of official ALP policy. I hope that the honourable member for Grayndler who is to follow me in this debate will say whether it is really a part of the official ALP policy. The declaration stated:

Union officers shall be immune from legal actions for offences committed in furtherance of a trade dispute. (Quorum formed) In the few moments left to me I want to say that there can be no union peace in this country until the grass roots members of the unions are prepared to attend union meetings and to stand up to the muscle men, the communists and fellow travellers.

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

Suggest corrections