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Wednesday, 29 August 1973
Page: 582

Mr WHAN (Eden) (Monaro) - Are there any adjectives left in the dictionary? We have heard them all. But where was the argument? Where was the logic? We have heard the adjectives but what was the argument? The historic Budget which was brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) represents the foundations for a transformed Australian society in which the person matters, and reflects the mandate given to the Government at the last election. Expenditure on housing and community amenities, so long neglected by the previous Government, has been increased in this Budget by $41 lm over the provision for 1972-73, a massive rise of 324 per' cent. Education follows with an increased expenditure of $404m, nearly double the amount' spent on it in the previous year. Expenditure on social security and welfare is next, and then there is health with an increase of $196m or 25 per cent more than was provided in 1972-73, followed by transport and communications. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) condemns these expenditures. The clear priorities established in his speech last night were for expenditure to protect industry, mining, manufacturing and investors in that order. No wonder the Liberals cringe when they are asked to specify their preferences and priorities in simple uncomplicated language. The stark materialism of their philosophy emerges in such language. Factories before education; commercial profits before housing, investors before pensioners. This is what their philosophy sounds like when it comes down to simple uncomplicated words.

There is much criticism of the support given to the public sector of the economy by the present Budget at the expense of the private sector. Wc arc told by the Opposition that the public sector is unproductive and that the private sector is the source of all wealth. The shortterm materialism of this approach is brought home to every parent when they realise that the Liberals are prepared to brand schools as unproductive while the mindless production of consumer goods is a virtue to be worshipped by the Opposition Parties. Docs the Liberal Party brand as unproductive the research that is carried out with public funds? Do supporters of that party say that the efforts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other research bodies, paid for by the money in this Budget, is unproductive? They said this last night. I believe they would be taking good advice if they were to cease to listen to the traditionalists in the industry which supports them in every way and whose position is threatened by technological developments. They should take note of the rational allocation of resources as they are set out in this Budget. The Country Party reacts in blind rage, in a kindergarten style, to changes in support for primary industry.

Let us make a close examination of the support changes in this Budget so far as primary industry is concerned. One of these is assistance to industry to compensate for low prices. These include payments to the Australian Wheat Board and payments under the wool deficiency payments scheme. There may be one rational Country Party member who can appreciate the fact that a government docs not have to make these sorts of payments to offset low prices when prices are at their present record high. There may be one rational Country Party member who realises that the Government of which he was a supporter was phasing this out last year in response to increasing prices. The current Budget increases the grants paid for rural research by SI 1 .4m. The Budget also increases grants paid for rural credit facilities by $2 1.8m. Those increases are a prelude to an increasing emphasis on encouraging technical change to improve productivity and also to provide a long needed rural credit facility to specialise in handling the unique problems of credit in the agricultural sector.

Another type of payment which we have seen in the traditional budgets is that which is designed to support the narrow sectional interests such as the wool marketing assistance which has been dropped in this Budget. That payment was made for no other reason than to protect wool selling brokers against the competition of private buyers. These grants have gone and with them a memorial to Country Party wool policy - the one memorial left, the price averaging plan. Payments such as these made to preserve the vested interest groups in the market have a fundamental significance in the present economy. It is payments such as these that distort the flow of resources and result in shortages of commodities in the market. Mr Deputy Speaker, you can understand why education never rated high whilst the Country Party was able to mould the allocation of resources. Just listen to those members of the Country Party who are seeking to interject. The level may be likened to grade 4 at a primary school. (Quorum formed.)

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