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Thursday, 25 August 1983
Page: 309

Mr HODGMAN(4.25) —The honourable member for Burke (Dr Theophanous), who has just resumed his seat, has always very frankly and openly conceded that he is a committed socialist. Indeed, he and many of his colleagues on the other side of the House-members of the Hawke Government-repeatedly say, when they think it is appropriate, that they are very proud to be members of a socialist government. We are debating today an economic summit which was heralded by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) as the pathway to economic recovery. We are debating it two days after one of the most expansionary, non-productive and harmful Budgets ever presented in this Parliament. I am well aware that I cannot debate the Budget. I will not say anything which will pre-empt that debate. But to put in context the remarks I wish to make about the National Economic Summit Conference and the statement of the Prime Minister to this Parliament, I will read a very short statement made on 4 September 1972-I have no doubt the Prime Minister would not object to my reading it-as it is relevant to what I will say about the National Economic Summit and the manner in which it was conducted. In a statement reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 September 1972, under the heading 'Labor is Socialist Hawke Says' the following appears:

The Australian Labor Party is a socialist party, ACTU President Mr Hawke says. He had no respect for anyone who denied this, Mr Hawke said last night. Mr Hawke was speaking at Belmont a Newcastle suburb at the opening of the federal campaign for the seat of Shortland in support of Mr Peter Morris. Mr Hawke said the Labor Party was a socialist-based organisation. 'I have never at any time tried to walk away from the fact that I am a dedicated and convinced socialist myself', he said. He believed that overwhelmingly his colleagues within the Parliamentary Labor Party were convinced that the best way to run Australia was by organised socialism. But he warned that Australians were not yet ready to vote for a program of socialisation. 'If you went out tonight or between now and the next federal election--

that was in 1972-

and said you were going to bring in socialism, you would not get in because for too long the people of Australia have been brainwashed into believing socialism is something evil', Mr Hawke said. He said people had been brainwashed into believing--

Mr Chynoweth —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. Is this relevant to the debate?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —There is no point of order.

Mr HODGMAN —I have nearly finished. The article continued:

people had been brainwashed into believing there was something undemocratic about socialism.

The relevance of that statement is that in 1983 we have a Prime Minister who acknowledges that he is a socialist and leader of a socialist government. When he brought together the delegates from all over Australia to the National Economic Summit he should have known, and I believe he should now know, that the road to recovery of this nation is not by following a path of socialism, but by doing what we can to restore the private enterprise sector, which is that part of the economy which has made this country great, which is the nation's largest employer and which holds the key to the future of Australia.

I turn now to the communique of the National Economic Summit Conference and ask honourable members on both sides of the House to consider what has been done to implement the stated objectives. I also invite all of the delegates of the National Economic Summit who attended the Conference in this building as representatives of the Australian community, as the Prime Minister put it, and at his invitation, to consider now what advice they tendered and which of their contributions have been taken up and acted upon by the Government. It is significant that two of the fundamental principles which the Prime Minister outlined in his statement of 3 May 1983, in response to what he said was the purpose of the National Economic Summit have been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. The statement reads:

Central to the conclusions of the Summit was the recognition that the degree of restraint exercised in expectations and claims is absolutely vital to Australia' s prospects of recovery.

. . . .

Let me say that my Government's interpretation of what constitutes such circumstances is the common-sense interpretation and leaves no room for selfish claims from maverick sections of the trade union movement.

The Prime Minister made it very clear that the basis of the Summit and the basis of the communique was that there would be a universal degree of restraint exercised in expectations and claims. He said that that was absolutely vital to Australia's prospects of recovery. He said: 'My Government will not permit selfish claims from maverick sections of the trade union movement'. Is it not sad that from the day the National Summit closed until this day we have been bedevilled by selfish claims from maverick sections of the trade union movement and, unfortunately, in many cases they have been urged on, and encouraged by, members of the Hawke socialist government. What a pity it is that members of the Hawke Government did not have the aspirations to which their Leader aspired and which the delegates to the National Economic Summit endorsed. Delegates to the Summit told the people of Australia: 'We will hold back'. They even said that the Government would hold back. I refer honourable members to section 25 of the communique in which the following words appear:

In like fashion, Governments agree to exercise, as far as possible, restraint in their charges.

Mr Deputy Speaker, as nearly the father of the House, as a former Minister and as one of the most experienced parliamentarians in Australia, what do you think of the proposition of restraint in government charges when we have seen a 16 per cent increase in income tax between May and August? The ordinary Australian, the average Australian, has been hit with a tax hike in two bites. I refer to the mini-Budget as well as what happened this week. There has been a 16 per cent increase in taxes. Mr Deputy Speaker, with your breadth of experience, what do you think of a proposition for automatic indexation of excise? It is almost unbelievable. This measure does not have to return to the Parliament.

Mr Robert Brown —Sound.

Mr HODGMAN —It is sound socialism, my friend. It is not the sort of medicine that the economy of Australia requires for recovery and not the sort of medicine that will permit the economic recovery that we are all looking for. I ask quietly and calmly-without any anger because many millions of people will be much more stirred up about this than I can be in this debate because I must make my main remarks during the debate on the Budget-what happened to the promise which excited many people around Australia of immediate tax cuts for 96 per cent of Australian workers? Where has that promise gone? When the National Economic Summit was held private enterprise, over and again, said: 'If you want the economy to regain its strength, don't impose heavy government charges; don't get into the market place and borrow; let the private enterprise sector have a go; in other words, hands off'. What do we find today? The personal income tax cuts have evaporated into thin air. They have gone in the wind.

What has happened in relation to interest rates? Mr Deputy Speaker, with your experience, particularly your ministerial experience, because you held the key portfolio of housing in the Whitlam Government, you know the impact of interest rates on the home building industry. I cannot refer to the Budget. But I must say that as a result of what happened last Tuesday, interest rates will go up. Why will they go up? Because the members of the Hawke socialist Government have intruded into the market-place with an expansionary Budget which will apply great pressure on interest rates to move upwards. Unfortunately, one of the best initiatives of the previous Government, the home mortgage rebate, has now been taken away. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am delighted with the friendly and happy atmosphere in the chamber from colleagues from both sides who are gathering to hear the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock)-the next Prime Minister of Australia-who will speak at approximately 5 p.m.

I return to my fundamental points. The National Economic Summit Conference was one of the most first rate exercises in political public relations that I have ever witnessed. Like the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr), I must record my protest that this chamber was used. I say no more than this: The Parliament is the Parliament of the people, and the people who sit in this chamber are those who have been elected by the people of Australia to represent them in the national Parliament.

As to the question of alcohol, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am not one of these breast beating reformed alcoholics or whatever. I concede that I enjoy a drink. But the expenditure of $46,000 of the worker's money over three days and $36,000 on one night is very close to a record. I think the Guinness Book of Records could be interested in this one too.

The National Economic Summit unfortunately did not produce the consensus, the results which it was supposed to produce. There was con, but it was not consensus. One of the Premiers of the Commonwealth made a comment at the conclusion of the National Economic Summit which is worth looking at it again to see what it means. He said that his State would not accept the blank cheque approach. He said:

It is as simple as that. Clearly our responsibilities as a State government demand full details of the proposed policies before we can offer a considered opinion of their practicability, cost and suitability for the people of Queensland.

He concluded his remarks by saying:

For these and other reasons the Queensland Government does not commit itself to the document. Queensland is not prepared to put its foot on the sticky paper and be stuck with it.

It is a matter of fundamental significance and importance, despite the glow and the euphoria of the alleged consensus, that as the Prime Minister himself admitted, the Economic and Planning Advisory Council, the organisation set up by the Prime Minister, the body which came out of the National Economic Summit Conference, was neither consulted about nor involved in the framing of the Budget. So much for the consensus. So much for the Summit. It was something in Australian history that has come and gone, leaving nothing behind but, tragically, the sound advice that was given to the Government by the representatives of private enterprise, who have been ignored. Their fundamental propositions put to the Government were: Keep taxes down, keep charges down, do not go for an expansionary Budget and do not bring pressure into the market place which will push up interest rates. Those were the four fundamentals. None of them have been acted upon.

If I had been a delegate to the National Economic Summit I would be wondering now, having read a document that came into existence on Tuesday night, why I came here in the first place. I would be wondering where the Hawke Government took up the advice that it was given. It is only through the private enterprise sector and through individual achievement and initiative that Australia will get itself out of the mess in which it currently finds itself. Honourable members opposite are committed to a course of socialism. I say to them with the greatest frankness I can that that is exactly the policy that Australia does not want. Socialism is bringing a great nation such as France to its knees right now. I do not want to see a socialist Australia. I want to see a strong and vital Australia with jobs for all Australians provided by the private sector. What honourable members opposite have done over the last few days demonstrates beyond doubt that they did not even take note of the National Economic Summit. To that extent they let it down.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired