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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 70

Mr KEATING (Blaxland) - Prior to the dinner adjournment I was referring to Australia's natural resources' and reminding the House that the programme offered to the Australian people by the Australian Labor Party took the Governor-General 45 minutes to read. In 1969 the former Government, the Liberal-Country Party Government, . offered its programme to the Australian people in a 3-minute address. That again illustrates the despair with which the last Government faced the last Parliament. But in that 3-minute address was a reference to a nuclear power station which the then Government proposed in order to dress up its electoral grab bag. As we know, 18 months later that nuclear plant project was scrapped.

The Labor Party intends to look at the area of natural resources and energy in a very comprehensive way. There falls to the lot of our Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), who is seated at the table at the moment, the job of drafting a national energy and resources policy in a couple of months which the Opposition should have done during the 23 years that it was in government. So the work of 23 years now has to be completed within 6 months. There is enormous pressure on Australia and Canada, and countries like ourselves which have an abun-. dance of natural resources, particularly in the form of energy. As we know, there is a world energy crisis, particularly in regard to the supply of hydrocarbons. Through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Australia has been under alot of pressure to make its energy resources available to the rest of the world. This is the attitude of countries like Japan and the United States of America. Japan in particular is importing about 78 per cent of its energy requirements at the moment and by 1980 that country will be importing 80-odd per cent of its energy requirements. The United States is facing an energy crisis at the moment and by the year 1980 it will be importing about $30 billion to $40 billion worth of energy resources. So Australia has to develop an energy policy very quickly if it is to govern the development of its natural resources.

We intend to govern the areas of nuclear power as well as coal and natural gas. I would like to display the negligence of the last Government in the area of natural gas. The Australian Gas Light Company at the moment is attempting to build a pipeline between Moomba and Sydney to supply the Sydney metropolitan area with natural gas. The diameter of the pipe, of 34 inches, is double the size of the- diameter necessary to supply the home consumption market of Sydney. In fact, Sir William Pettingell, the Chairman of the company, intended to build the line and to pay for it by exporting natural gas. This was the position although repeatedly the former Minister for National Development in the last Government said that there would be no exports of Australian natural gas. On the other front, on the north-west shelf of Australia, Burmah Woodside, that massive conglomerate, was also negotiating with a Japanese company for the export of natural gas while the Minister stood in this Parliament and said there would be no export. This demonstrates the complete contempt- that these companies held for the last Government and the way in which that Government neglectfully allowed these major companies to dominate and sell off our natural resources.

The Labor Party intends to introduce and build a national pipeline authority which will construct, maintain and service a national pipeline grid which will supply natural gas to the people of Australia at an equal price and will allow the Commonwealth Parliament to exercise sovereignty over these areas of resources so that we can plan the use of this very valuable energy resource. If there is to be any export of natural gas it will be only at the behest of the Federal Government after our domestic requirements have been satisfied. The Government intends to move into the area of natural gas, and also into other areas of energy. The Australian Labor Party, as a government, intends to look at the area of solar energy. This is an area of energy that Australia has a great opportunity to exploit. The world uses less than one per cent of the sun's energy. Although the sun is 93 million miles away it is the best nuclear reactor that we have. In a country where we have the greatest number of hours of sunshine per year on an aggregated basis we have a perfect opportunity to explore this area of energy. So the Government intends to look at the question of solar energy to supply energy not only to Australia but to other countries in the region.

Also the Government intends to look at other forms of energy such as the Sarich engine which is being developed in Western Australia. This is a rotary engine which apparently develops a phenomenal level of horsepower and is of a very cheap and efficient form of construction. So in all forms of energy, including those forms of energy which can be utilised for automotive purposes and which we will integrate later on into the transport policy, we intend to introduce quite far reaching' policies. 1 would like, in the 5 minutes remaining to me. to highlight another item of the Government's programme - that relating to defence. For years in this House members of the former Government said: 'You cannot trust the Australian Labor Party with Australia's defence'. Yet we heard again in the GovernorGeneral's Speech yesterday the Government's enunciation of its plans to develop Australia's defence forces. The Government intends, along with that, to develop Australia's defence industries. This is something that I have been keen about for the last 3 years that I have been in this place. The last Government allowed all of our defence industries to lapse into a state of decay. Our shipbuilding was virtually non-existent in the defence area. Our aircraft industries are falling to pieces and a defence electronic industry is also non-existent. So the Government intends to rationalise the aircraft industry. It intends to find commercial as well as military work for it. The Government intends to carry out this programme very quickly so that it can save this Industry, halt the massive brain drain of people who are leaving it and going overseas and provide what is really the basis of defence - that is, an industrial backup. It is already common knowledge that the Australian Labor Party as the Government intends to do quite a lot to redevelop and reinvigorate the shipbuilding industry of Australia. Again, in the area of defence elec tronics the Government intends to do the same thing by re-invigorating this industry. We have heard all this talk - the shibboleths that the Liberals have dragged up over the years and which kept them in office for 23 years - about how one cannot trust the Labor Party with Defence. That bogy almost disappeared in the 1973 election and after 3 years of this Government it will totally disappear.

I would like to mention briefly some of the items which the Government will be introducing by way of legislation in the next 3 years which were set out in the Governor-General's Speech. There will be a basic reform of the Australian Education system, the development of a schools commission and a pre-schools commission, the abolition of university fees, the overhaul of our social welfare system, the introduction of a universal health insurance system, the establishment of a school dental service, the establishment of Aboriginal land rights and the setting up of a cities commission. A Commonwealth-State lands commission will be established to develop residential land, which is something on which the Liberals in the Commonwealth and the States have been criminally negligent because they have always pandered to their developer friends in these areas. Also the Government intends to embark upon a new Commonwealth-State housing agreement and to lift loan limits on housing loans. It intends to fight inflation by limiting the amount of money flowing into Australia by way of foreign investment and to regulate the money supply as well as set up a prices justification tribunal to govern the primary cost of products, by which I mean the prices of products which tend to affect the secondary structure of prices and costs.

So the Labor Party's programme is a comprehensive one. I thought it ill behove the honourable member for Wannon to make what 1 referred to before as a whingeing speech in which he talked about division and disunity in the Labor Party where in fact there is none. This will be a united Party. We intend to carry out a comprehensive programme and I am quite certain that the result will be our re-election at the end of this 3- year term.

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