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Tuesday, 6 March 1973
Page: 220

Mr HEWSON (McMillan) - As the newly elected member for McMillan and as the only member of the Australian Country Party to have represented that electorate, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General's Speech. I congratulate the mover of the motion for the presentation of the Address-in-Reply, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), and the seconder of the motion, the honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Whan) for the way in which they introduced the debate into this House and for the points they made. I think that we can look forward to some very strong debate from honourable members on the Government side. I also congratulate the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) who made his presence felt and who left no doubt as to the earnestness of the part that he will play in this Parliament. 1 deem it a signal honour to be standing in this national Parliament, having arrived here through the medium of a democratic way of voting, and to express the loyalty of the people of McMillan to the Queen. I hope that honourable members who come to this House will always be given the opportunity to do so. It is clear that there are elements within our midst desirous of deleting any reference to our ancestral mother country; they would sever the traditional ties of democratic government if given the opportunity. I refer in particular to the suggested removal of the Union Jack from the Australian flag. As descendants of pioneers and early settlers, we have held to the traditions that came with the first unfurling of the flag on Australian shores in 1788, one important tradition being the bicameral system of government. Again this is being challenged by some people on the ground that it has only traditional value. They say that today's world demands something different. We need to be very wary of changes, without due consideration, to the traditional origin of our heritage and our flag. Men have laid down their lives to preserve what it signifies, as a guiding star for future generations to follow. Loyal Australians will ever say 'no' to any Party, person or government that wants to design a new flag without the Union Jack. Let us not allow anyone to downgrade the flag that symbolises so much of our Christian and British way of life.

Of course we want to be Australians. We want to be different. We can be different and still retain that little safeguard of tradition. Red, white and blue are precious colours to us. Biblically, red represents blood - the saving blood of Christ - yet it can signify divine judgment. White symbolises purity and holiness. God calls us as a nation to obey his commandments and laws. Blue is the colour of the sky, reminding us that God lives. Red is the Son, white the Holy Spirit and blue the Father - the impersonal God. That is the message that the Union Jack represents, and it has gone out to the four corners of the earth as the bearer of human values, giving great ideas of civilisation and ordered life. To me. any Australian ashamed of the flag is equivalent to one who is ashamed of his very own mother.

I stand here today as the successor to the former Liberal member for McMillan who gave 17 years of very conscientious service to his electorate. 1 pay tribute to him for the contribution he made to this Parliament. He was a member of several important committees to which he gave his best endeavours. I trust that he and his wife will enjoy good health in their retirement and that the fellowship of the many friends they made while serving in 6 parliaments will remain with them always.

Before I launch into battle as a new recruit in the Opposition let me offer my congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and to the Government. My sincere congratulations go also to the newly elected Speaker for the very high office that he holds and to the honourable member for Corio (Mr

Scholes) who is the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. These are very important positions within this Parliament. I say to the Prime Minister and his team that they are in government because they won the majority of the seats, but they could be out of office in a very short time if they continue to ignore this Parliament as they have done over the past 12 or 13 weeks. There is no doubt that the Australian Labor Party was given a mandate to govern. But the antics of acting the perfect role of a dictatorship - I say this advisedly - have scared the Australian public into rethinking their position. Prior to the election many people fell for the slogan: It's time for a change.' But many more are now saying: 'Time will tell. When will this ideological philosophy end and common sense prevail?' The reason for my saying that is abundantly clear to those of us who have great credence in a democratic system of parliament.

It is many weeks since the Parliament was prorogued. It is 12 weeks since the election was held last December. For several of those 12 weeks we had a 2-man dictatorship. We saw that same dictatorship jump the gun on the 7 per cent upward revaluation of the Australian dollar. The consequences of that were just being realised by the unsuspecting public when the United States dollar was devalued. This has created alarm. All previous governments have paid currency variation compensation. The previous Government paid up to $ 1 1 1 m. But no such thing has been indicated by the present Government up to this point of time. I can speak with some authority about the effects of the revaluation because I have evidence that one export industry in my electorate will lose $14,500 on orders already on the water. That is real evidence of the effect on one industry. But what is more important, of course, to my dairy farmers is the estimated 2c per lb on butterfat that they will lose. If the Government refuses to compensate our exporters in vital primary, secondary and mineral industries this country will face a sorry situation. Perhaps this is the way the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) expects that he can implement his hand-out program without increasing taxation. There has been a 10 to 12 per cent rise in revenue and expenditure in recent years, particularly over the last 2 years, revenue and expenditure increases have been roughly the same, but revenue could not be expected to meet the expenditure the Government now proposes unless, of course, inflation runs riot and taxes of necessity increase. We have had indicated to us, even today, the Government's intention to establish a prices justification tribunal or board. Reliance on a prices justification policy operating at the end of the line after increased costs have been injected into the economic system will do little to curb inflation.

As a new member enjoying the courtesy of the House I will not embark on a recital of all the many concerns I have about the policies of the new Government as outlined in His Excellency's Speech. It was certainly a bold and imaginative legislative program that he outlined. From my observation I would say that it is based completely on the theories of socialism. If allowed to become a reality in its entirety it would spell disaster for this country. Therefore it is incumbent upon us members in Opposition to bring some reality into this Parliament. I have been amazed at some of the outbursts from the Government side about progressive administration resulting from Country Party representation. Country Party representation in this' Parliament, I want to remind the House, has been responsible for many of the stabilisation plans, particularly in primary industry. As yet this Government has not demonstrated any knowledge of such matters. The Country Party participation in this Parliament has been a contribution of the greatest national importance and I make no apology for arriving here under the Country Party banner and hope that my contribution to this Parliament will reach the same high standard of values on all national issues, one of these being decentralisation.

I take issue with those who would deny those we represent the right to be heard and defended. All the remarks about gerrymanders are based on the thinking of those about to do the same thing. Growth centres I do not oppose, but I view with concern the move to do only what has been outlined in the scheme for a so-called Utopia - Utopia was talked about today - in the Albury-Wodonga area and other areas. It appals me to think that when the electorate of McMillan has every natural resource at its disposal this Government talks of developing a whole new complex. What an expensive exercise this will be. The growth centre at Albury-Wodonga will be away from the seaboard, and materi als will have, to be brought into the area and locally manufactured goods will have to traverse again the same route to the export terminal.

In McMillan we also have the Latrobe Valley's huge industrial complex which is now almost at a standstill. Many towns in close proximity, with natural resources in abundance and of immense value, want to be involved and recognised. They want to be assisted. I also refer to the brown coal deposits which provide our power resources throughout Victoria and which I undertook as a candidate to have researched as potential liquid fuel resources as a defence measure. We have, as yet unconserved, a plentiful water supply, natural timber and planted pine forests and a variety of minerals. All of these - or any one of them individually - are of such significant importance as to create natural growth in the existing towns and in appropriate industries.

My own council is one of the many shire councils which are showing initiative towards fostering industry and the natural development of such industry as is appropriate to the area. They should be given every assistance from a national fund. This would prove to be a much more economic proposition, with much more permanency and with a greater encouragement for the distribution of our population, than would artificial monolithic centres. People should be given confidence in their future. A realistic and economic measure, such as lowering the costs of communications, should be investigated forthwith. This is one area in which action ought to be taken immediately and should be the subject of one of the terms of reference of the inquiry into the Australian Post Office. The Commonwealth can help directly in the growth of regional centres, as can the States, by locating some of its activities in those centres. Naturally significant amounts of long-term finance could ensure a successful and sensible national and natural development.

The fear that 1 have is the encouragement by this Government of the trade unions to demand shorter working hours, 4 weeks holiday and higher wages, which will destroy any decentralisation effort. I have always been a great believer in long-term finance. It is the only fair means of assisting people in the primary and secondary industries and the only real opportunity that many have of getting houses, getting re-established or initially launched. Long-term finance guarantees a person's security in times of lower prices and the many disasters which primary producers face from fire, flood and disease. Many young dairy farmers would welcome protection from financial crisis. I will welcome, and even congratulate this Government if it has the intestinal fortitude to provide it, that ยง500m with which it wooed the Australian electors prior to 2nd December. As one who has a close association with hospitalisation, social welfare and handicapped people, 1 will be a very keen critic of any change in policy in this field, and again will welcome on behalf of these unfortunate people the assistance that has been promised. In the McMillan electorate we have some very fine hospitals, but a program of further assistance for the frail aged is very necessary, and again it will be my earnest endeavour to see that this Government honours its election promise.

I hope to see a realistic approach to a national water conservation program. It is becoming more and more evident that there is a great lag in some areas. This situation dispels confidence among those who might contemplate establishing industries. The selfish attitude of metropolitan dwellers demanding more and more water from the rural areas is creating inequalities and disregarding the equitable distribution of our water resources. This is happening in the electorate I represent. I want water conservation plans updated to ensure the rights of the municipalities and the people within them and a guarantee that there will be no retardation of their natural growth.

In McMillan university and tertiary education facilities are becoming a pressing need. With no university facilities in the eastern half of Victoria - this is pretty hard to imagine, but it is a fact - the establishment of the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education forms a sound basis for future expansion into university faculties. As the demand for these facilities rises, I hope to see the great election promises of this Government honoured.

It has been my pleasure to speak to this motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply as a forerunner of my contributions to this House as a representative of the Australian Country Party and the electors of McMillan, who have given me the honour of speaking on their behalf. Stepping down from the serenity of the Victorian Legislative Council into this battle arena is a somewhat awesome experience. My maiden speech was like getting married for the second time - I was nervous on both occasions.

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