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Thursday, 8 September 1983
Page: 612

Mr GORMAN(8.01) —Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to present my maiden speech in this House, which should be the highest of all forums in Australia. I take this first minute or so to congratulate you on being elected to your high office. I would also like recorded my congratulations to Mr Speaker and his other deputies, and I wish them every success in their future duties.

Firstly, I would like to go back in time some 16 or 18 hours to last night. When I arrived home at my unit I decided to peruse these notes for my speech. Suddenly there I was giving the most profound, informative maiden speech this House has heard for many years. In fact, just as I completed my speech my Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, and all honourable members from both sides of this House stood and applauded me. You can imagine, sir, how, in my moment of greatest triumph, I was woken from my pleasant dream and suddenly faced the cold, shuddering reality that I had to deliver my maiden speech a second time.

At this stage I would like to congratulate my predecessor, Mr John Armitage, for the way he represented the electorate of Chifley and, prior to that, the electorate of Mitchell. John was the first member for Chifley, which is located in the outer western area of Sydney. The Chifley electorate was created with the electoral redistribution of 1969. John Armitage is known personally to many present members of this House. I would like it recorded that I appreciate his efforts on my behalf and admire John's diligence and hard work in the electorate . It was his effort, with the help of members of the local Australian Labor Party branches, that maximised the Senate vote in my area for the ALP senators. For many years I have learned from John Armitage and that association has been of great benefit to me personally. I have been able to see by the result what hard work in the electorate can achieve for a local member. But no two tradesmen are exactly the same, or work in exactly the same manner. Any innovations which I may introduce, or any additional services offered in Chifley, will be implemented with the sole aim of ensuring that all my constituents in Chifley receive their full benefits. The same dedication will be given to all who seek my or my staff's help and assistance, as was given to them by John Armitage.

I could not let this night pass without offering my personal thanks to all the members of the ALP within my electorate of Chifley. The rank and file members of the Australian Labor Party are the true backbone of the Party. They come from all walks of life and from all nations of the world. They are the boys and girls , the men and women who carry out all the tedious jobs and who come out rain, hail or shine on polling day without reward and work on behalf of the Party. To them, one and all, I sincerely say: 'Thank you very much'.

I now thank all the constituents in my Federal electorate of Chifley. They, like the millions of other Australians, voted for this Australian Labor Government led by our Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, which is committed to take Australia out of the economic problems brought about by the inept policies of the previous Government's seven years in office. The people of this great nation showed on 5 March 1983 that they were sick and tired of a government which was committed to the mighty dollar. The previous Government allowed the board room directors of the multinational companies to rape and plunder this great country of ours at will. The report of the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union blew up in the previous Government's face. It was not its intention that this should happen. This Australian Labor Government will ensure that the riches of this land will, and must be, more evenly shared by one and all Australians.

It is refreshing to find from time to time that Mr Speaker's chair is occupied by female members of this House. For many years, like so many thousands of Australians and I must say like my father, I considered that a woman's place was in the house, and certainly under different circumstances from that which now exists in this House. But having worked with so many women during the past 25 years not only in the work force, but also within the various community units of which I belong and now with the female members of this House, I offer them my sincere best wishes. I know that we will spend many years on this side of the House together, thanks to the electors of this country.

Before coming to the core of my maiden speech, I must point out a couple of items that have been on my mind for some considerable time. The first, but perhaps not the most important, relates to the previous Government. There is no need for me to continue to condemn the previous Government as the voters of this great nation did that on 5 March and will, I am sure, continue to vote for the Australian Labor Party for many elections to come to ensure that this great country of ours goes forward to its rightful place in the world of today.

However, I am forced to admit that there are honourable members of the Opposition in this House, both past and present, who have earned their rightful place in the history books of this country and also in the Guinness Book of Records. It is fair and just to admit that. I believe that the previous Prime Minister-what was his name-and other honourable members of the present Opposition will be recorded as the most hardworking, experienced and certainly the most efficient taxidermists this country has ever, or is ever likely, to produce. The present state of this country's economic position proves that very fact.

It is an honour to have been elected and sent to this House, not as a knight in shining armour on a big white charger to change Australia today and the world tomorrow, but as a worker not only on behalf of the constituents of Chifley, but also on behalf of the policies of the Australian Labor Government and, in turn, all Australians to work on the various Caucus and parliamentary committees. It is the varying degrees of success that we, as members, obtain for these committees that give us the job satisfaction we seek and enjoy so much. I would like to record in Hansard the total co-operation given these various committees by all of the Ministers of the Australian Labor Party Government.

The core of my speech deals with the famous three R's, not the three R's of our much younger days. For the benefit of the younger members of this House, they were 'reading, riting and rithmatic'. The three R's of this modern day and age are reconciliation, reconstruction and recovery. The first-reconciliation-was demonstrated at the recent National Economic Summit Conference and will prove to be one of the keys to the Australian Labor Government's three-point plan for final success and economic stability. The second, and equally as important as reconciliation, is reconstruction. Reconstruction has already commenced with the Hawke Government's May economic statement. All honourable members will agree that this was continued by the Australian Labor Government's first Budget on Tuesday night.

As can be seen, this is the start of the many innovative programs that will eventually flow like a tidal wave in the months to come. It will give hope to our fellow Australians who are underprivileged, whose existence is characterised by a relative poverty not only of the material things of this life but also, perhaps more importantly, by their inability to see for themselves and their children any brighter horizon where they can hope to break free from their existing circumstances of poverty. It is most important to point out that no government can correct the present economic situation in one term; it will take two or three terms to do this. That is not asking too much from the constituents of Australia when one considers that this Labor Government started $9.6 billion in the red or, to be more precise, with a deficit of $9.6 billion, which our first Budget has already reduced. Noticeably we must reconstruct our nation and recover our sense of justice. We must continue to promote national reconciliation, reconstruction and recovery, especially in forums such as the recent National Economic Summit Conference and, further, the more recent discussions held with the Australian Council of Trade Unions on superannuation and associated problems.

With reconciliation and reconstruction will come the rebirth of this nation and a total form of recovery. I trust that we, as trade unions, employees, employers and government, are on the road to realising that the cake will never even make it to the oven unless we stop trying to pinch the ingredients before they are even mixed, let alone cooked and ready to share with all Australians. There will be a great future for all Australians when the policies of this present Australian Labor Government develop into reality. The recent Summit and the accord on prices and incomes between the Government and the ACTU have shown that it is not always necessary to enshrine such objectives in legislation with penalties, et cetera; rather it is a matter of awakening consciences to responsibilities of all parties as we are all partly responsible for the future.

This Government-whose policies I naturally support-declared its intentions to remedy injustices not by dragging down any other than the fraudulent, the charlatan, the oppressor and the operators of bottom of the harbour schemes, but by building up those who are in need. Our first Budget shows this Government's true intention to do so by the help and assistance given to those most in need. I refer to increases in pensions and unemployment benefits. I could go on and on . But these benefits have been well publicised and well documented in all newspapers and on television and radio.

It is said that everyone who comes to this place comes with certain ideals and a few brilliant projects in mind. I, like most honourable members, also have ideas that will or may help bring about this country's reconstruction and recovery. I would like to share with honourable members in the House ways to recovery and perhaps beyond. Shortly before the recent election and, during the campaign, there was quite a flurry to be polite about it over proposals to channel inland the excess water of certain coastal rivers. There was of course a lot of criticism and political opportunism at the back of these proposals. By referring to them I do not wish to stir up the controversy that they caused; I wish to revive the proposals themselves. I mentioned them because, in some ways, they resemble a project which is dear to my heart and about which there has been no little discussion over the past few years.

The point I wish to make is that I believe much of our discussion has been wrongly centred. I further believe that grand, bold ideas for massive public works stir the public's imagination as did the Snowy Mountains construction. If the plans are carried out, even slightly imperfectly, they can more often than not be a source of pride which is beyond price. It is to this end that I suggest the Government, in the next few years, look at a second, third or fourth major public works similar to the Snowy Mountains scheme. Perhaps the next project should be the turning of the waters of the Clarence River on to the north coast of New South Wales. If this and many other coastal streams are finally turned to the west and controlled through the western plains this country will become a total food supplier to the world, and will continue for eternity. This will be for the benefit of all mankind.

The scheme to which I referred on the Clarence River was considered at the time as complementary to the Snowy Mountains scheme and would work in different periods from the full flow levels of the Snowy Mountains scheme. This would give New South Wales additional power if and when the scheme were in operation. Various arguments will be put forward as to costs and the funding of the various projects. I must say that if there were to be a fear of a war starting money would be the last of the worries of this or any government. Perhaps it is a challenge for this Government and the Opposition to work together for once. If this were to happen this country would take its rightful place amongst the great nations of the world. I wish to quote a statement made many years ago in this House by a then member of the Opposition. He stated:

Whether we are in opposition or in office, the time has come when we must pool all our mental resources and engage in some concerted thought about these most elementary and fundamental features of the greatest problems which confronts us today.

This speech was made by Mr Bob Menzies. It was his maiden speech. It certainly calls for the Opposition and the Government to work together today as well. We must do something to stop the unproductivity, in all senses of the word, of pure money making and seizing of industrial power purely for its own and money's sake such as we have seen in the continuing and unedifying spectacle of the fight for the control of Grace Brothers and other companies, even companies such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. BHP may be inefficient and General Motors- Holden's Ltd may have repatriated too much profit overseas, but at least they produce something and employ people even if, unhappily at the present moment, in diminishing numbers. This fighting like ravaging wolves and worse that went on for the control of Grace Brothers is something I am sure most Australians would dearly love to see stopped. A punitive capital gains tax would be applauded by the vast majority of Australians if it stopped activities such as these which put people right on the street without any compassion as we have seen in the recent Grace Brothers-Myer shop swap and the Victorian Waltons shutdown. This type of operation must be stopped.

It is interesting to note how history repeats itself. On looking through some previous maiden speeches I noticed continual references to the housing and coal industries. In the last few weeks other honourable members have mentioned these same problems. Even as late as today my friend the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Hollis) mentioned the problems in the coal industry. As far back as 1929 Mr Ben Chifley, in his maiden speech, discussed similar problems; not that I would place my friend the honourable member for Macarthur in the same category as Ben Chifley. Honourable members would all agree that Ben Chifley was the greatest Prime Minister Australia has prior to our present Prime Minister ( Mr Hawke). In 1953 Mr Gough Whitlam mentioned the problems in the housing industry. I must say that it is strange how this industry has again raised its head over the few months that I have been a member of this Parliament.

In conclusion I mention that I am proud that I come from Blacktown in New South Wales and that I represent the seat of Chifley. The State of New South Wales has the pride and privilege of having supplied the greatest number of Labor members to this House as well as the other place. New South Wales also has the longest serving State Labor Government in the history of Australia. But first and foremost I am an Australian and very proud of it. I would like to thank personally all the staff in Parliament House and all the staff in the various departments with which I have come into contact. My congratulations go to all honourable members, especially new members like myself. My area wants many things but mainly it wants jobs, jobs and more jobs.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —The House is about to hear another maiden speech-this time from the honourable member for Wannon. I ask all honourable members to observe the usual courtesies.