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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 75

Mr KEOGH (Bowman) - The remarks made by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) who preceded me in this debate were fairly typical of the thinking that caused the defeat of the Liberal Government. His approach gives a fair indication that unless honourable members opposite change their style of thinking they will spend many years on that side of the House. In his efforts to criticise the actions of this Government the honourable member failed to give us some reasons as to why he may have decided to change his tune about revaluation. He was. one of its foremost advocates in the last Parliament. I believe that he has decided to get on side with his Leader and change his attitude or to submerge his opinions in silence. This evening he did not mention this matter. He made a valiant effort to lay claim in this Parliament to the mantle left behind by one whom I am sure the great majority of members were pleased to see depart this Parliament. I refer to the previous honourable member for Lilley, Kevin Cairns. I am pleased to have here on my left this evening the new and very fitting honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) who has replaced Kevin Cairns in this Parliament. May I tell the honourable member for Balaclava that I am afraid that the present honourable member for Lilley will never make another Kevin Cairns - thank goodness.

Tonight I am very pleased to congratulate the Governor-General on the fine speech that he made at the opening of Parliament yesterday. The remarks made by my colleague, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), earlier this evening gave a pretty fair indication of the comparison between the Governor-General's Speech on this occasion and his speeches on the other 2 occasions on which I had the privilege to listen to him. I am sure that on the 2 previous occasions, particularly the first one, when we were hardly in the chamber long enough to know that the Speech had begun before it finished, he must have felt ashamed at the record of proposals that the Government had placed before him to present to the Parliament. He almost certainly would have had some thought in his mind as to how much more efficiently and effectively he could have been performing the role of Prime Minister in the Parliament than either of the 2 right honourable gentlemen who were called upon by the Liberal Party to perform that job. Of course, those 2 gentlemen have now met their fate, and the people have elected to government a party that will present to them new horizons, aims and ideals. I am very proud to say that a large proportion of the people of Australia, whether they have supported all the decisions that the Government has made since the election or whether they have not, at least have been singularly high in their praise of the Government for at least making decisions and of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for at least acting as a Prime Minister should. The people of Australia have been pleased to see a Prime Minister prepared to make decisions, the people having become used to the indecision of the previous Prime Minister during his fortunately short term in office.

Let me further say that I congratulate the Prime Minister on many of the changes that he has proposed. There is one change that I suggest he might very carefully consider before the next Parliament,, the , 29th Parliament, meets. I suggest we should , discard the unnecessary pomp and ceremony that I am sure there was no need for here yesterday, with members for most of the day wandering backwards and fowards across red carpets and going into the Parliamentary Library to shake hands with the Governor-General who I am sure had no more idea , of what it was all about than did the members. One of my colleagues remarked to me as we moved across the red carpet on the third or fourth occasion: 'Surely if we do this much more some df the people in Kings Hall will start to throw peanuts at us'. I am sure that if that had happened it would have been with some just cause. I believe that in this day and age, with the new approaches that this Government will bring to running this nation, there is certainly no need for a continuation of the type of ceremony in which we were all forced to participate yesterday.

One of the important matters that the Government has so far proposed to the Parliament is the extension of the franchise to 18- year olds, whom we now recognise in Aus.trali aas people entitled to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Granting voting rights to these people was something that the previous government at various times, when challenged by the Labor Party in opposition to take action, mouthed support for, but that Government was never prepared to take forthright action to introduce this very necessary electoral reform. Certain other electoral reforms have been proposed and will in time be introduced by my colleague, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). I sincerely look forward, and I am sure a great percentage of the Australian people do, to the introduction of a true sense of democracy into the voting procedures of this country so that we will accept the principle of 'one vote one value'.

For too long this Parliament has had inflicted upon it the undue influence of the Country Party, out of all proportion to the electoral support that it is receiving. Sadly, I have seen examples of this only too clearly. I am sure that if the former honourable member for McPherson were in the chamber this evening he would be applauding me for my remarks. He, as a fellow Queenslander, in recent times has certainly expressed his opinion on the 18th century attitude that the Country Party Government in Queensland has adopted to many matters, including the relocation of the Torres Strait border between Australia and New Guinea, to which I will take the opportunity to refer again later during my remarks this evening. The point I want to make at the moment is that in Queensland today the people have inflicted upon them a Country Party Premier and a Country Party Government who cannot gain even 20 per cent of electoral popularity throughout the State. With only 19 per cent of the vote in Queensland, the Country Party holds a major share of power in the coalition Government. Is it any wonder that the Liberal Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queens and, Sir Gordon Chalk, has been outspoken in his criticism of the attitude that the Country Party Premier has expressed towards the decisions of the present Commonwealth Government? As someone remarked to me recently: 'China has its Chou En-lai; Queensland has its Lying' Joh'. That is probably a disturbing suggestion, but it is quite obvious that although this gentleman seeks to present a religious image to the people, no greater hypocrite has ever sat in the Queensland Parliament or, to my knowledge, ever controlled a political party in Australia.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The word 'hypocrite' is unparliamentary.

Mr KEOGH - Mr Speaker, in deference to your ruling, I withdraw my very apt description of the Queensland Premier.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will place no qualification on his withdrawal of the word.

Mr KEOGH - I withdraw my description of the Queensland Premier as a hypocrite.

Mr Armitage - Just say that he is indescribable.

Mr KEOGH - He certainly is indescribable. I am certain that there are members of the Liberal Party in this Parliament who feel the same as I do about the Premier of Queensland and the influence of the Country Party. They fully realise that they should accept the challenge that the Labor Party will extend to them to bring democracy into the electoral procedures of this nation and accept the challenge of supporting a system of electoral reform that will give voters in the cities a vote of the same value as the vote of people who live in some other parts of this nation. They realise that not until they do so will they be free of the influence of the Country Party. Forever will they sit in this place in Opposition wishing that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) was in fact able to claim the title of the second most important man in Opposition. Instead of asserting his right to that claim they will sit in their seats squirming while the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) rises to his feet and presents himself to the Parliament as the person accepting the title, to which I believe he is not entitled to lay claim, of the second most important member of the Opposition.

We on this side of the House who were honoured to be members of the last Parliament know full well that the opportunity was taken by the people of Australia on the occasion of the last election to cast out the Liberal-Country Party coalition and to elect the Labor Party into office after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party rule despite the gutter tactics that were used and despite the lies of the previous government and particularly those of the Democratic Labor Party. I can say that in Queensland the fear and smear campaigns of the enemies of Labor during the last election did not succeed. Never again will they succeed with such tactics because in the coming 3 years that this Government will be in office the people of Australia, including a new generation of Australians, will have an opportunity to judge the Australian Labor Party on its record and performances as the national Government. They will have an opportunity to judge the Labor Government on the reforms that it will introduce during its 3 years in office, many of which were outlined in the Governor-General's Speech yesterday. So, never again can the fear tactics of the parties that previously have depended on them for their return to office, rather than depending upon the presentation of progressive policies for election to office, be used to the detriment of the Labor Party and to the disadvantage of the country as a whole.

I hope that when the proposed electoral reforms are introduced into this Parliament, and when one-vote one-value is an accomplished fact, there might be some opportunity for the Government to use its influence on those discredited State governments that depend upon the gerrymander for their own continuation in office. I refer particularly to the disgraceful gerrymander that has returned the Country-Liberal coalition to office in Queensland. Without getting on to the rights or wrongs of a change in the boundary between Queensland and Papua New Guinea, I want to make one point on this issue this evening, and I am sure that those who have looked closely at the situation will agree with the point that I make. I have no doubt that the Premier of Queensland has not been concerned or interested in the location of the boundary because of a concern for the lives, the livelihood or the future nationality of any people who may live on the islands affected. He is concerned rather for the future success of the shares that he holds in the companies that he hopes to give an opportunity to drill for oil on the Great Barrier Reef. These plans currently are held in abeyance. Some of the titles that are to be made available by the Queensland Government to these companies are locked in the safe of the Minister for Mines and are waiting there for the greedy hand of the Queensland Premier to descend on the Torres Strait and Barrier Reef oil fields, as it has done in many previous instances, mainly through the nominee companies in which he holds an interest that can never be tracked down.

I shall leave the Queensland Premier alone for a moment and refer to one other matter which has been given some attention in Queensland in recent times and which concerns the incapacity of the- University of Queensland to cope with the -numbers of students who are presenting themselves for enrolment in courses at that university. I compliment the Government on the action it has taken in relation to the abolition of university fees from the start of the 1974 academic year. I also compliment the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on the very progressive move he has made to alleviate the burdens and hardships carried by many students by making special grants to the various States. However, in Queensland this year more than 40 students at the University of Queensland who have passed the first year of their medical course will not be allowed to go on to the second year because of a severe, restrictive quota system.

The system that exists in the University of Queensland is due . in no small measure to the attitude of the Queensland Government in the past towards providing finance for the expansion of the University of Queensland and to the attitude of the past Federal governments, which continually refused to provide finance for university development except on the basis of matching grants. I believe that the situation has been reached in . Queensland, particularly in respect of the development of the new university at Mount Gravatt, where action is needed. I hope that this Government will be influenced into granting finance for the development of this university to overcome some of the current problems in regard to enrolments at the University of Queensland and that this (finance will not be on a matching dollar for dollar basis. This is one of the sins of omission of the previous Government that this Government will have to face. It is one of the important matters that should be, and I trust will be, faced quickly because there is a growing shortage of doctors in Queensland which has necessitated the Queensland Government advertising in other States for young doctors to come to Queensland because facilities cannot be provided for Queensland to train its own doctors in its own university.

In conclusion I should like to say that there is no doubt that the people of Australia on this occasion have made a decision which, on previous occasions, they have endeavoured to make but have failed to make because of the distribution of preferences from minority groups, particularly the Democratic Labor Party. I believe that the election of this Government will see the speedy end of the DLP which has grown and lived on hatred and bitterness towards the Party that is now in office - hatred and bitterness which I hope can no longer continue.

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