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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1974

Mr TURNER (BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the people's hard won savings, whether in life assurance offices or otherwise, will not bc forced directly or indirectly into national development projects chosen by governments, so enabling them to play political ducks and drakes with the people's money? In this connection, will the Prime Minister bear in mind the ill-fated Ord River scheme, originally fathered by a Labor Minister for National Development, Mr Nelson Lemmon, and finally welcomed on all sides of the Parliament without the careful cost/ benefit and other studies which would be required by a prudent investor?

Mr McMAHON - I do remember some of the ill-fated projects that were started by the Australian Labor Party. I want to emphasise the difference between the policy of the Liberal-Country Party coalition relating to the savings of people who hold policies in life assurance corporations, and that of the Australian Labor Party. Firstly, we believe that people who have saved money and to whom the money belongs, have voluntarily invested it in life assurance companies and have trusted the boards of those companies to invest those funds satisfactorily in their interests. We will continue to ensure that that policy is followed. Secondly, 1 point out that it has been made clear by the Leader of the Opposition that the Labor Party, if in office, intends to use those funds for Labor Party policy purposes. I do not believe that this is necessary, and it is a policy that we on this side of the House totally repudiate. I believe that it is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution for a government to mobilise these funds and, in fact, take control of them. The Constitution requires that a fair price be paid if somebody's assets are taken over. I can assure the honourable gentleman that I will have a look at the Life Insurance Act in order to make certain of the powers of a government in this respect. Whilst I do not for one moment think that we will have the opportunity to amend the Act prior to the date on which the Parliament will rise, I will nonetheless consider what statement can be made to make clear the complete difference which exists between the predatory intention of the Labor Party and our intention to keep a voluntary system whereby the assets of the people will be properly administered by those corporations to which they have entrusted their funds.

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