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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 81

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - In the first instance I should like to congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your appointment today as Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker.

Mr James - A very popular appointment.

Mr ARMITAGE - As the honourable member for Hunter says, it is a popular appointment. I am quite sure you will carry out your duties with very great distinction. I hope within a few minutes to be able also to congratulate Mr Speaker on his appointment - something I just could not miss. I sincerely congratulate the new members on both sides of the House. The maiden speeches which we heard earlier today from 2 new members on this side of the. Parliament were excellent and show the very high calibre of people who were brought into the Parliament as a result of the last election. Of course, the result of that election gave the Australian Labor Party a majority so that today it can govern for the first time in 23 years. To you, Mr Speaker, as you return to the Chair, may I say that I- most sincerely congratulate you. I think that your appointment in this instance is most appropriate. Probably no person was more notorious than you for his humorous and incessant interjections in previous Parliaments. Accordingly, it is only common sense that we should use the principle of 'set a thief to catch a thief in electing a Speaker to keep the Parliament operating and to maintain order.

Mr SPEAKER - Your solicitude is most appreciated.

Mr ARMITAGE - It is a very sincere congratulation, Mr Speaker. Following the suspension of the sitting we have heard tonight 2 speakers from the other side of the House, namely, the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), and the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett). What struck me more than anything else - this was extremely interesting - was how completely bankrupt of new ideas their speeches were. The honourable member for Balaclava, during his speech, spoke only of the old, old subject, communism. He was trying to kick the com munist can again. That was all he could speak about. He is as bankrupt of ideas now as he was previously. He did not even endeavour to criticise any of the proposals of the new Government as set .out in the Governor-General's Speech. He simply settled once again for that old shibboleth, and that was all he could talk about.

The honourable member for Canning could speak about the problems of ohe section of the community only - admittedly a very important section - our farming community. When will the; Country Party broaden its ideas and become a nationally minded party instead of looking 'at one small section of the community only. It is a very important section. Perhaps I. am wrong in describing it as a small section, it is a most important section. But the Country Party should look beyond the horizon at the other great problems which affect Australia. The honourable member for Canning did not even have his facts right. He was taking great credit that at last Australia had managed to close the gap in its balance of trade. He forgot to say. that when the Chifley Government went out . of - office this country had one of the healthiest trading situations that it had ever experienced.

Mr James - The till was well and truly full.

Mr ARMITAGE - That is quite right. The till was well and truly full- and' it was not full of hot money as it was when the last government went out of office. The honourable member took credit for the former Government that ' the reserves were so high. Of course he forgets that this was hot money - speculative money: - which coming into Australia for one purpose only. Those investors knew that eventually a great alteration in currency value would be forced on the Australian Government irrespective of the political complexion of that government. It is well known that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), when he was Federal Treasurer last year, favoured revaluation because he knew that the problem of hot money had to be taken notice of. I do feel that the honourable member should realise just what the economics of that, situation were. Revaluation had to occur. Furthermore, the former government had a large deficit in its balance of trade for a whole decade. It took the former government a whole- decade to close the gap and now, although it is hard to imagine, honourable members opposite are taking credit for that situation. I noticed a rather interesting article in the Press today. It states:

The former Liberal Party Government had been relegated to the scrap heap because it had lied to the people and Parliament. . . .

They refused to come clean or, In plain language, tell the truth. . . .

They lied and lied and lied. . . .

Ministers were among the worst offenders.

They thought they, were impregnable- a Government by divine right. A monolith that could not be toppled. They degraded and treated with utter contempt the Parliament of which they were the elected custodians.

The article goes on to say that the author of these remarks described the Leader of the Opposition as a 'confirmed lightweight'. The article continues:

With no talent and a succession of Prime Ministers each worse than bis predecessor, the Party turned on itself. . .

What followed was a facade qf lies and deceit involving one incident after another, wrecking ' the Government's credibility in the eyes of the public.

People weren't that blind and nor, as it has turned out, was the Opposition.

Po honourable members know who made those remarks which appear in today's 'Daily Telegraph'? They were made by a former Liberal member of this Parliament. When the present Opposition was in Government, Mr Edward St John, the author of those remarks, was a member of this Parliament. These remarks were made by him when addressing a Liberal organisation only yesterday. That is what members of the Liberal Party think of their Party. Of course, anybody with any conscience at all would know that there is a great deal of truth in what he said. He was a great man. He was a man with a conscience.

Mr James - He will go to heaven when he dies.

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