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Wednesday, 29 August 1973
Page: 579

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - I do not propose to comment on the remarks made by the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) because I think he is a dam good fellow. I just sympathise with him for having to mix in the company in which he mixes. It is difficult to know where to begin when surveying the devastation the Government has inflicted on our country, its institutions and its people. Shall I speak of defence and refer to the sickening humiliation suffered by each of our armed Services all because a group of fanatics compelled by a dedication to foreign ideologies wants to throw into jeopardy the safety and security of our people? Shall I examine the foreign policy of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) which has aroused the gravest suspicions in most of the reputable countries throughout the world? Shall I refer to the disgusting raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation which struck a fatal blow at our status and our integrity - an integrity built on an impeccable system of intelligence and security? Shall I probe the financial policies of this new dictatorship and expose a Budget which has stimulated a searing heat in our economy which, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) himself has admitted, will result in an inflation pressure which the Government cannot control?

Perhaps the most vicious, vindictive and savage attack ever made on any section of the Australian people has been made by this Budget and those people living in nonmetropolitan areas and particularly those in country areas. Yet . I wonder whether that statement is entirely correct, because the little people in the cities have been hit where it hurts most. They will have to pay more for their transport and their smokes. The decline in value of their dollar will make everything more expensive. They are aware of this. People in city areas are not fools. They are not being duped. Their votes are not being bought. The Australian National Opinion Poll - I would not say that it is oriented to give a false impression, particularly where the Opposition is concerned - revealed last weekend that 48 per cent of people in Sydney and Melbourne would prefer the people on this side of the House to govern them, whereas 46 per cent supported the PLF - the ,pseudo Labor Party.

Let me refer to the policies of the Government revealed by this destructive and irresponsible Budget which attempts to reduce country people to third class citizens. It is destructive to rural industries, four of which produce about $3 billion worth of overseas credits for this nation. I refer to the beef cattle, sheep and sugar industries. The Budget is irresponsible because one great economic truth has been ignored by the Prime Minister and his henchmen - that is the economy in total, the prosperity of all Australians, and the interdependability of rural and urban Australians. The country men produce and support the major earning power of this country and millions of city dwellers provide the domestic consumption. Here is what the Government has done to destroy the quality of life of country people, and this is anything but a complete list: It has abolished support for petroleum product costs in country areas; it has increased postal rates on newspapers and periodicals; it has increased telephone rentals in country areas and telecommunication charges to the media. One would almost suspect that the Government was trying to stifle the voice of our mini-media in country areas, but that would be unjust.

The Government has imposed charges on meat exports and seeks to recover the full cost of eradicating bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. It has abolished the accelerated depreciation allowance on plant used in primary production. It has phased out the butter, cheese and processed milk products bounties. It has abolished the distribution of free milk to all schools and has phased out all support for rural air services. One of the Budget provisions which will most certainly hit all wage earners - it, will hit country toilers most viciously - is the rise in fuel costs. The increased duty on motor spirit together with the widening of the petrol price equalisation margin will increase rural transport costs by up to 25 per cent. Some people say that they will be increased by 27 per cent. Is it not obvious that this increase will flow over to just about every commodity and service in country areas, and provincial cities too? The wealthy will not be greatly worried. They will not be concerned about an extra 6c for a gallon of petrol or the inevitable rise in food, clothing and most other day by day expenses. These honey mouthed deceivers opposite have hit the workers, the pensioners, the small contractors and business men, the small farmers and graziers.

I join the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in accusing members of the Australian Labor Party who represent rural areas of abandoning their electors. They have exposed themselves as utter hypocrites. Their election promises were monumental deceits. The jeers and cat calls hurled at the

Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) at the weekend were only a beginning. The country people are poised for vengeance against their betrayers.

The abolition of free milk to all schools is another example of the sickening hypocrisy of these people. In country areas a great percentage of children most needing this milk are Aboriginal children - honourable members opposite do not want to hear this - and yet the Treasurer told this House last Tuesday week that there was now no need for this nutritional addition to the diet. At the same time honourable members opposite are going around the country screaming that Aboriginal children are suffering from malnutrition. I suppose milk does not have anything to do with this. The Goverment has taken the milk from the kids. There is a paranoia gripping the people in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. They have a psychotic hatred of people who live in country areas. This venom is hurting the people they pretend, with supreme hypocrisy, to represent and care for.

Out of their frenzied calculations to strike blow after blow at country people came another body punch - the phasing out of air service support. People in isolated areas depend greatly on air services provided by small companies which have pioneered this now indispensible transport link and who have very little to show for it, as my friend the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) well knows. It will be the station hands, the Aboriginals-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!I suggest that the gentleman in the gallery who is clapping desist, otherwise I will have to have him removed.

Mr KATTER - The Government is striking at the station hands, the Aboriginals and the sick pensioners. These are the people who will suffer because they will not be able to afford to travel on aeroplanes any more. Maybe these services will not exist any more. It is the Government's objective, of course, to drive them out of business. If ever there has been a section of the Australian community that has endured discouragement after discouragement it has been the dairy farmers. No one works longer hours and .receives less remuneration than the dairy farmers. Let me tell those draculas, those blood suckers, that when we were in power there was no unusual generosity towards the dairy farmers. There were fewer subsidies paid to support primary industries in Australia than are paid in any other similar country in the Western world. What I say about the dairy industry could apply to other primary industries now. One can bet any odds that the high tone of prosperity in the major rural industries will not persist indefinitely. The inevitability of market pressures and drought will ensure that. What a disaster - what an indeterminable tragedy - will hit those industries if this Government remans in power. More than half the export income of this nation is derived from these very same industries. Let us consider for a moment the proposed recovery of full costs involved in the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. The eradication program is important in the light of the tightening of overseas inspection requirements. That is obvious even to the Government. The task force created by the Government said that it was questionable whether the cost of the program should be met by the taxpayer rather than by the industry. It said that there were 3 possibilities: To maintain payments at the present level; to restore matching dollar for dollar basis financing; to impose a levy on beef exports to meet the financial requirements of the program. The Government has decided on the latter course and legislation will be required. The cost to the industry will be about $6m a year, but do not forget that this comes on top of the estimated $13m a year to be recouped from the industry for export inspection services.

I return now to a subject I referred to when I opened my address, namely, the critical defence of this nation. I have spoken about our economy and our quality of life, but all of this is of little consequence if we do not have the capacity at least to provide a realistic base on which our defence can be quickly mobilised and the security and protection of our people assured. I accuse and indict the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) who, with almost a drooling satisfaction, has emasculated our defence capacity. He has ripped out the heart of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Soon there will not be a career serviceman left in any of these defence forces. This weak and inconspicuous Minister in a pathetic attempt to boost recruiting has tried to convert army camps into holiday camps. He has shown disdain and contempt for the status and effectiveness of the Army. He has aborted the divisional concept by reducing our Army to 6 battalions.

There would not be a banana republic which would not regard this as a boy scout movement.

Let me list briefly some of the money saving cuts for they are pretty good cuts. One Mirage squadron will be disbanded. Troop transport, supply and training ship 'Anzac' is to be scrapped. Plans for fast combat support ships to cost $69m are to be cancelled. The civilian defence staff is to be cut by 4,600. The forces personnel is to be cut by 2,300. What is left? The Mirage replacement is to be deferred indefinitely. We all know what sign the Mirage squadron at Amberley put up outside their base - 'We have closed business because of Labor pains'. Stores, spare parts and ammunition are to be reduced, and there is to be a scaling down in local ammunition factories. The decision on the new light destroyer is to be deferred until next year or the following year or forever - who knows. The number of new CT4 trainer aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force is to be cut. Some 37 were ordered originally and that was little enough. Now here is a beauty: The completion of the Cockburn Sound naval base is to be deferred from 1975 to 1978. Whom does the Government think it is kidding? Let the Western Australians wake up to something else. They will not get the battalion they were screaming for last year and which in my opinion they should have got. Not only will they not get that battalion, there are now only 6 battalions left. I do not know what the number will be next year.

Now I come to one of the most worrying aspects of recent legislation, namely, the moves made by this Government to throw into a state of uncertainty the great mining industry. I do not propose to go into that in detail tonight but I do promise the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) that he will be hearing from me in great detail. I have lived in a mining environment all my life.

Mr Daly - That is obvious.

Mr KATTER - I draw the attention of the House to the comment made by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). He said: 'That is obvious'. That is a distasteful remark and a reflection on people who live in mining centres. He obviously treats them with the same contempt with which he treats most people in the country. I have seen the city of Mount Isa, for instance, grow from a town of galvanised iron houses to a proud modern city. I know of ethnic groups which have left their overseas homes, travelled direct to Mount Isa and contributed to a wonderful, almost unbelievable fusion of our rugged frontier type Australian character and the rich cultures of Europe and elsewhere. I have seen a transient population not only in Mount Isa but also in other mining communities throughout Australia, places like Blackwater and Moura, become permanent residents. In all these mining towns we have a wonderful spirit of teamwork and pride. Now a shadow of uncertainty has been cast and a gloom has come over this industry.

I challenge the Minister for Minerals and Energy to declare a firm policy in regard to the mining industry. Let him come clean and say whether the desires of his colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), which were expressed in this House when he made an attempt to have Mount Isa Mines Ltd nationalised as a beginning, no doubt, to nationalising the entire industry, are to be realised. I challenge him to come clean and state his intentions. Does he intend to fully nationalise this industry? ls it his intention to reduce the mining industry which is so critical to the economy of this nation to the same shambles to which a very similar government in Chile reduced its mining industry. This so-called Labor Government is hell bent on reducing us to a regimented banana republic. It is intent on centralising power in Canberra. The Prime Minister, with an unbelievable egoism, makes Hitler appear like a benevolent aunt. Every man on this side of the House is dedicated to 2 things - to the preservation of the great Australian freedoms and the high quality of life which was the envy of the world, and to the breaking of the grip which this arrogant, irresponsible unAustralian group of jackboot tyrants have on this magnificent country. God give us strength to restore to the people the way of life they deserve, and to bring back decency and respect to this nation,

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