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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1208

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) - As the honourable member for Fisher I represent a country electorate. It is one of the fastest growing electorates in Queensland. It has almost every form of rural production; it has a number of very fast developing provincial cities; and it has the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I am rising tonight to protest at the deliberate attacks that have been made by this Government on the interests and rights of country people. Countless attacks have been made in this House, ostensibly on the Country Party; but I claim that they are directed not against the Country Party but against everyone who lives in the country. Not only have the attacks been made; there has been an indifference and callousness directed against country people. I believe that this is because the Labor Party's policy has largely been rejected in the country areas of Australia.

I want to instance this policy because the Labor Party says that it cares for people. We care for people, too. But the Labor Party does not appear to care for country people. I want to refer to a number of legislative measures which have been introduced by this Government and which, I believe, are not only directly contrary to country interests but are directed at and against country interests. The first concerns revaluation, a subject on which I have spoken in this House on a number of occasions. Honourable members opposite have even told us that it has been good for us. I refer to the dairy, sorghum and mining industries, to name just 3 that are in real trouble because of the appreciation of the Australian dollar and the failure to follow the American dollar down. The effect for the moment has been masked in some areas because of the good world prices for beef and sugar, and up to now for wool, but I note that today wool prices dropped by 45 per cent. The sugar producers of Queensland have absolutely no illusions about what revaluation will do. That was made evident at a recent conference of sugar producers in Queensland. Revaluation is a direct thrust at the rural producers and country people.

The second piece of legislation I have in mind is the Remuneration and Allowances Bill which represented an attempted denigration of the Country Party and an absolute non-concern with the difficulties that country members have in respect of allowances. Again this was not so much an attack on the Country Party as an attack on country people, and it has been interpreted that way, at least throughout my electorate. I refer next to the Electoral Bill which was passed by this House yesterday. Just about every Government speaker attacked the Country Party by name with some of the unkindest cuts I have ever heard. The Country Party had advised that a number of our members would speak on that Bill, but they were gagged despite what the Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House. (Mr Daly) had told us.

Mr McVeigh - Nine of us were gagged.

Mr ADERMANN - My colleague is right. The Minister assured us that we would all get a turn and then gagged us. He said: 'You will get a go at the Committee stage'. But we were gagged again. This was a silencing not of the Country Party but of the country voice.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 remind the honourable gentleman that in the debate on the motion to adjourn the House he is not per mitted to refer to a debate that took place in this session.

Mr ADERMANN - Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will turn to another aspect about which I am very concerned and on which questions have been asked in this House. When answers have been given, they have not been satisfactory. I am referring to the operations of the Postmaster-General's Department in country areas. I have made representations galore to Directors of Posts and Telegraphs and to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) on behalf of country people who urgently need telephones connected. These people have virtually no amenities. In a number of cases 1 have forwarded medical certificates that to me, as a layman, appeared to necessitate urgent action. Yet the answers given in this House are that such connections are not economic. Has the concept of providing a service been thrown overboard for the sake of economics? I know of people with telephones connected on party lines who were assured that, if they erected and maintained those lines, when the time came for renewal the service would be renewed by the government. I am speaking of services that were installed much longer ago than 23 years, so 1 hope I will not get the usual cry back at me. It looks as though those people will not have the promises made to them honoured.

I have had numerous complaints about mail deliveries in the country that are being reduced from 6 days a week to as few as 3 days a week. Not only does this cut out essential mail services but also it reduces their newspaper deliveries, which often are associated with the delivery of other things. We read that there is to be a declassification of 300 official post offices to the status of nonofficial post offices. I guarantee that none of those post offices will be city post offices and I guarantee that this is a step towards the closing of more non-official post offices in country areas. My Party, when it was in Government and since it has left office, has fought to maintain these non-official post offices.

The next point I turn to is the report in today's newspapers about the establishment of what is called a 'new task force' to look into a number of matters. But right at the top of the agenda of things to be examined are primary industry subsidies and tax concessions to primary industries. I guarantee that there is no thought of increasing the subsidies or concessions. This is another thrust at the primary producer. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) has said that he will not allow primary industries to have unwarranted protection and that rural industries will not be allowed to soak up funds which would be better applied to some other causes. So this is another real threat to the country people. I could not notice the name of any representative of rural interests listed as a member of that task force.

The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) appointed a Minister for Primary Industry from the Senate and this Minister has been so outspoken in the ways I have mentioned that the rural people are really concerned. They are concerned that the Government has no thought or care for the primary producers of Australia. Recently in this House I heard an honourable member talking about the phenomenal bank balances of farmers. These are not the farmers whom I know in my electorate.

Mr O'Keefe - They have to pay back $4, 000m to financial institutions.

Mr ADERMANN - That would be right. Their balances are in the red and if this Government continues their balances will never be anything else but in the red. To cap it all off we had the announcement of the Prime Minister in this House yesterday that while the Minister for Primary Industry is overseas his representative will be Senator Cavanagh. The reception that the announcement received in this House will be equalled by the reception it receives in the country areas of Queensland.

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