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Wednesday, 10 November 1971
Page: 3294

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - Tonight I want to deal with an attack that has been made by a member of this House on the person who has been selected by the South Australian Government to become the Governor of South Australia. I read in the Adelaide 'Advertiser' a report that Sir Mark Oliphant has been attacked by the Liberal member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I wish to take the honourable member for Boothby to task, although he is not present in the chamber, because of the terms which he has used to refer to Sir Mark Oliphant. He has said that Sir Mark is identified with the Left and that he is not fit to be the Governor of South Australia because of the fact that he is politically committed. His criticism is based on the fact that Sir Mark Oliphant is a member of certain associations. Why does not the honourable member for Boothby stand up and say that he was in Russia recently and drank so much vodka that it was running out of his bootlaces? Yet, the honourable member has seen fit to attack the appointment of a most eminent Australian and a most eminent South Australian to the position of Governor of South Australia.

Hardly one word of criticism has been heard of the appointment of this very competent person. Rather have most Australian newspapers throughout the day applauded the appointment of Sir Mark Oliphant. The honourable member for Boothby who, I repeat, is absent from the chamber, insults the monarchy when he sees fit to criticise this appointment in the way In which he has. Only today have all honourable members received in their offices this booklet of some 30 pages entitled The Monarchy in Britain'. Australia gets a mention in the back of this book together with Canada, Barbados, Uganda and other countries. That is the only reference to Australia in the whole of this document. It has been produced at some great expense. I hope that our taxpayers did not pay for it.

I wish to make some reference, if I may, to a speech that was made recently by your leader, Mr Deputy Speaker. I refer to the leader of the 'Flash 8' - that is, the Country Party in this House. I call that Party the 'Flash 8' because at the last general election its members obtained about 8 per cent of the total vote. The fact is that your leader, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), went into South Australia and was at a show at Clare which is one of the wine growing areas of that State. While at that meeting, he said that while the Australian wine industry was having some problems, these problems were only associated with producers of lower quality, cheaper wines sold in bulk. Manufacturers of good quality wines had little to worry about.

I hope to goodness that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who represents wine growing areas in South Australia does not go off on that note when he comes to debate the matter which he has on the Notice Paper. The Acting Prime Minister deserves to be condemned for saying this type of thing. It was only yesterday that Australia's 2 greatest wine producers and principal growers complained bitterly once again at the attitude of the Government with respect to its excise on this industry.

Those remarks fetch me to another matter. The leader of the Country Party - your Leader, Mr Deputy Speaker - frightened of the fact, I understand, that the Government will suffer defeat at the next election wants an early election. He did not tell the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) about his wish. However, the Prime Minister got the word somewhere because I see that he is bleating off from London, or somewhere, that we can expect an election in March. If he is an honest person, he ought to return and make Aus tralian history - the only history that he will ever make as a Prime Minister - by seeking a double dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament. He should let the people unravel the shocking mess which he and his immediate predecessors, along with the Country Party, have placed this country in.

The Acting Prime Minister goes off in the Press and says that he is sending letters to ask more than 50,000 Country Party members throughout Australia their views on the future of the Party. The Acting Prime Minister is so bereft and barren of ideas, as is the Party which he leads, that he has to send out 50,000 letters in the hope that the Country Party will get a few replies to give it some form of guidance for the future. Here is a Party, which forms a coalition government after receiving 8 per cent of the total votes cast at a general election, the leader of which is writing to 50,000 of his Party's hard core supporters - the Party still hopes that it has that number of supporters - asking them to give the Party some guidance. This is done at a time when we are in the middle of a debate on the Budget for this financial year. What a great cop it must be. What a great example of positive leadership from the adjunct of the Government - a Party which receives only 8 per cent of the total votes cast in a general election - to send out 50,000 letters asking for guidance. I wonder whether the Country Party sent a letter to Sir Mark Oliphant to seek his guidance. It always used to invite him to its functions. It would bc interesting to see whether his opinion was sought and if so, it would be interesting to note that gentleman's reply. The Acting Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party wants to ask these 50,000 people whether the Country Party ought to continue in coalition with the Liberal Party. The Country Party should have enough nous to wake up. If it is to do any good for the country and for the people it represents its representatives in this Parliament - whether they have been elected by a low percentage or not - ought to have enough courage to make up their own minds as properly elected and so-called responsible members of this Parliament. Did the Country Party have to write 50,000 letters? Imagine the Labor Party dropping 50,000 letters to the trade union movement to seek guidance. That would lift the roof off this place.

This is what the Country Party has done. It wrote 50,000 letters seeking guidance as to whether it should continue to support a Government which is at such a low ebb as this one that has been sitting on the treasury bench for the last . 20 years. The Leader of the Country Party also asked whether the Country Party should become an independent centre party. What did he mean by that? Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask you as a member of the Country Party, or any one of your colleagues over there, to get on your feet after I have finished and tell us what is meant by a centre party in relation to responsible government in this country. The Leader of the Country Party asked whether the Party could best assure its future by intensifying activity in the country and large towns. The Country Party has brought them all to ruin. Now that it has brought them to ruin it starts to send letters saying 'Well now, mate, what do you think we ought to do about you?' The right honourable gentleman then asked whether the Country Party could assure its future by broadening the scope of its political base by fielding candidates in metropolitan areas. So the Country Party has given the country blokes away for dead, has it? That is what it means. It has sold them down the drain in 101 ways and the Leader sends out a letter like this when he is in office. After having sent the country people to the wall he says: 'We write you off. You are not worth anything to us. We will see whether we can get in with the industries in the metropolitan areas.' In the same way John McEwen gave away sheep and went in for cattle. That is typical of the Country's Party's lousy attitude and its irresponsibility to the country electorates of this Commonwealth. The Press report of the Country Party's letter stated:

Liberal Party officials today expressed surprise at the questioning of the future of the coalition at such a high level in the Country Party.

I do not know what they are expressing surprise at. The whole of the electorate is expressing disgust at the way they have carried on here in this Parliament at least since I have been associated with it. The Country Party ought to be condemned for sending out a letter of this type. Nobody denies a parliamentarian the right to seek the views of his electorate, but to seek the views in the manner in which the Leader of the Country Party has in this matter is no more than disgusting.

I do not know who paid the 3½ grand for stamps, but let me make a casual observation. Seeing that the Country Party got 1 million quid recently from Dalgety and the other wool barons, no doubt they paid for the stamps. What are they doing today? They also are deserting the rural areas. They are going into other forms of business. They have raped and taken all they can out of the country. They have taken all they can out of the rural producers, and the small fellows particularly. Measures were passed in the House the other week and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who was at the table at the time is now overseas. He failed to answer the accusations from honourable members on this side of the House about the recent measures to protect the wool industry and the wool grower. In fact no grower in Australia can make direct application for assistance under those measures. All they meant was that Dalgety would have first bite of the cherry and, if that was the whole of the cherry, too bad for the rural producer. That is what is happening and it will continue to happen.

So the Country Party has deserted its electorate. Dalgety is reaping the benefits from the recent passage of the Bill through this House. The Country Party has got money from them for electioneering funds - $lm, I understand, stacked into safe deposit boxes. Now Dalgety is deserting the rural areas by going into tourism and God knows what else. Just how dishonest can a political party be with the people it ought to represent? By sending out these 50,000 letters it is virtually saying: 'To hell with the rest of the electorate, to hell with the Commonwealth, to hell with responsible government. We have had it. We can see it is a sinking ship and we are going to be the first one to dive out.'

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