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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 689

Mr McLEAY (Boothby) - We have just listened to the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) who, at the beginning of his remarks, described himself as a democratic socialist. He proceeded to tell us of all the advantages of democratic socialism, which I would say is simply gobbledegook for totalitarianism - power from the top down. During the 20 minutes that we listened to the honourable member he made accusations against people on this side of the House and used the old tag of 'the previous whingeing, whining Government that was in office for 23 years'. I think that was how he described the previous Government.

Mr Keogh - No, that was the Leader of the Country Party.

Mr McLEAY - I appreciate the interjection. That is what I thought the honourable member said. I thought the adjectives were used in a personal way to describe one of my colleagues. I think the Liberal-Country Party Government did not do too badly during those 23 years seeing that the Australian population rose from 7 million to 13 million and there was full employment at the time we went out of office. I resent the adjectives which were ascribed to the Leader of the Australian Country Party, especially coming from the honourable member for Bowman whom I would describe as one of the most whingeing, whining, ponderous, humourless and dreary socialists in the Parliament. He is not a bit like the sort of person we expect to come from Queensland.

I would like to say something in reference to a matter the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) spoke of at question time today. I do not get any pleasure out of saying something like this but I feel that I would not be able to live with myself if I did not draw attention to this matter. The Prime Minister in really what amounted to a prepared statement made another attack on southern African countries. Some honourable members may remember that he chose the opportunity to wallop Trans-Australian Airlines for having the hide still to have displayed in one of its offices - I believe it was in Alice Springs - a brochure advertising travel to southern Africa. Apparently there was something in that brochure about Rhodesia.

Mr Cooke - I wonder what spy brought that to his attention.

Mr McLEAY - I am quite sure it was not the member who represents that area. The Prime Minister in his typical Big Brother attitude has given orders to TAA to destroy all of these subversive pamphlets. As far as the Prime Minister is concerned - and this is democratic socialism - no one in this country must be permitted ever to read anything about southern Africa or in particular Rhodesia. I think the people in the Press gallery, although there are not too many of them there at present, ought to have a look at what the Prime Minister said in regard to the Press in this country accepting advertisements which advertise Rhodesia because that is another indication of the mental hiatus which the Leader of the Government has in regard to that part of the world. Perhaps the members of the Press gallery should have a look at what happened to the Press in Ceylon under democratic socialism. In Ceylon the Press was strangled by the withdrawal of government advertisements from newspapers.

I say that the Prime Minister and others who sit behind him have a double set of standards. They wish to destroy everything that may give information about this little country of Rhodesia. We are not allowed to look at it. We are not allowed to go there. But the Prime Minister agrees to the introduction into this country of all forms of pornography. That seems to me to .be a classic double standard. It is a selective sanction, something which I do not approve. When we on this side were in government I was against it and now that we are in Opposition I am still against it. So at least I am as consistent as is the Prime Minister. My view is that the Prime Minister's way is not the way to treat any country. If we do not agree with another country's politics we do not solve anything by shutting our eyes and not learning anything about them.

Mr James - It is a United Nations decision, you know.

Mr McLEAY - I appreciate that interjection. I thank the honourable member for reminding me that it is a United Nations decision. The position is that the United Nations is running our foreign policy, not the Australian Government. That is something which I deplore.

Mr James - Why?

Mr McLEAY - The point is that I do not have a terribly high respect for the way in which, for example, Soviet Russia has behaved over the years. Just think what Soviet Russia has done to the Baltic States and to Czechoslovakia. We all voted along the same lines in regard to that matter. But in my view that does not mean that we should not ever visit Soviet Russia or look at the propaganda material which that country has put into this country. I think that is a fair parallel to draw. I just wanted to place on record somewhere at some time those views and. after what the Prime Minister said today I think this is the appropriate time.

Mr Keogh - We knew you would.

Mr McLEAY - I am used to getting these sorts of interjections. Last night someone called me the member for Rhodesia or something like that and someone else called me a fascist, but putting labels on people does not do anybody any good. I could easily call the honourable member who interjected the member for Moscow but it would be quite meaningless.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is the sort of thing you usually do.

Mr McLEAY - You are accusing me of putting labels on people. I challenge you to find public evidence of that.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You have done it in this place many times.

Mr McLEAY - That is not so but I am prepared to debate the issue reasonably and calmly. I say to honourable members opposite: Do not put labels on people. Getting back to the Budget, which I suppose is what one should be talking about, there are many aspects of it that I would like to say something about but of course time will not permit me to do so. First of all, I am opposed to this Budget, although of course not everything that is contained in it. I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and which was in my view put very well by him. But there is one long term feature of this Budget and the papers associated with it on which I do want to say something briefly. I refer to the disgraceful way that this Budget is running down our defence capability. The Government is rapidly destroying the Army, the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. I would like the Minister for 'Defence (Mr Barnard) or someone who has the capacity to tell me what would happen if a situationand I think this could well happen - developed in Papua New Guinea whereby there was some major disturbance such as a civil war, perhaps an invasion or some threat to Australian expatriates in that country. When the 'Sydney' is scrapped how will this Government shift to that area troops in sufficient numbers and with all the necessary logistic support to honour our commitments to that country? I hope that in time we will get an answer to that question. I am sure that everybody who is living in Papua New Guinea will be interested to know the answer to that question.

I fear that this Government is putting this country into the situation it was in when I was of military age, which is a long time ago, and I, along with many other young men, went to Papua New Guinea, some without equipment or with equipment which was very very old. I well remember going into action with Howitzers and other artillery pieces produced in 1908. They were so inaccurate that they tended to kill almost as many of our own people as they did the enemy. I suggest that the way this Government is heading, in scrapping defence and putting emphasis on welfare, we will see the day when we will be as ill-prepared to defend ourselves or to honour our commitments as we were in 1939.

In regard to short term decisions which have been taken in this Budget, the Leader of the Opposition did cover the important points. I just wish to refer to one or two of those decisions that will affect us in the near future. I will quote something that the present Prime Minister said when he was bucking to be Prime Minister. He said that as a matter of 'pressing necessity' a Labor Government would lower income tax on married and lower income earners, reduce sales tax on a number of items and maintain existing rates of company tax. This Government has not lowered income tax for anybody. It has not reduced sales tax. In this Budget this Government has increased indirect taxes and it has increased company taxes and all those things which it said it would reduce. Pensioners in this country are actually now worse off and they are going to get progressively worse off. Pensions are increasing at a rate approximately 2 per cent lower than the rate of average earnings of others in the community. So gradually they are being disadvantaged. I suggest that this Budget is a budget to hit the family man or the working man whom the Labor Party claims it represents. For example there have been increased taxes on drinks, smokes and petrol. Those measures are all inflationary ones.

There are 3 Labor Party promises that I would like to mention very quickly. We all remember the highly successful slogan - and it is a Party of slogans - 'It's time', and the literature which was distributed before the last elections. I think the next slogan for the Labor Party will be 'Time's up'. The Labor Party's 'It's Time' pamphlet stated:

The Australian Labor Party sees inflation control as the Government's responsibility. Not yours.

That was referring to the voter. The present Government is doing nothing about inflation except exacerbating it. On rising prices, the pamphet stated:

All this would be bad enough, except the Government

That is when we were in government - - compounds the problem by increasing postal charges, telephone rates and television licences and by increasing indirect taxes . . . petrol and cigarette for example.

I am quoting what the Labor Party criticised us for doing, yet it has done the same things in its first Budget. In 1969 the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, said:

Don't be fooled by the Liberal boast that tax rates have not been increased.

Actually we reduced them -

The taxes have been raised by the simple, silent expedient of leaving the tax schedules unchanged and letting inflation and wage increases do the rest.

That is precisely what the Labor Government is doing in its first Budget in 25 years. I can think of at least 2 pre-election promises that have not been honoured. One is the promise to allow a deductibility for taxation purposes-

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honourable member should know that those promises were made in respect of a 3-year term. Do not confuse the public.

Mr McLEAY - The Minister for Housing interjects to say that the promise about child care centres is designed for a 3-year term. We have his assurance that it may be kept if the Labor Party retains government until the next Budget. It certainly is not included in this Budget and, with the foreshadowed attack on other deductible expenses, I would be dubious that he will be able to keep that promise. Various statements were made by the Prime Minister about education grants for students attending independent schools. I cannot quote him precisely but all honourable members know of those statements. The Minister for Education said that no school would receive less than it was receiving before the election, but all honourable members are aware that these grants have been chopped off to many schools. That was a totally false statement - I cannot use another word because it is unparliamentary.

The matter to which I should like to devote most of my attention is the national health scheme. During question time today I received some sort of unsatisfactory answer from the Minister for Social Security, about inaccuracies in the costing of the health scheme. Perhaps I need not repeat that information. I shall relate some figures dealing with the cost to the person who is really under attack in this health scheme. I refer to the patient whom I seek to defend. I am not concerned about the doctors although the Government seeks to discredit and denigrate medical practitioners in private practice. The Government does this to try to obscure the other important issues, particularly the cost of hospitalisation to the Australian public. 1 hope that a significant section of the Australian community will be listening to these figures. A married couple with 2 children - they are the ones who I suggest comprise the family unit and the people against whom this Budget is directed - who seek non-public hospital accommodation after the Government has nationalised medicine, as it proposes to do on 1 July next will pay more than they do at present. A man earning $80 a week who seeks to send his wife or child to a private hospital now pays $1.66 a week. Under the proposed national scheme he will pay the same but he will not have any choice of where to send his wife or child. This is one of the aspects which has been obscured by the Government. The Minister talked about freedom of choice but he does not say freedom of choice of what. It is not freedom of choice of a doctor; it is freedom of choice as to whether a man will send his child or wife to a public or private hospital. That ought to be nailed once and for all.

A married couple with 2 children seeking non-public hospital accommodation and earning $100 a week now pay $1.55 but under the national health scheme they will have to pay $1.82 and will be forced to go into a public hospital. The way in which the scheme will operate, if it ever gets off the ground, is by forcing people to do things - on an economic basis. If there are any single people listening or interested in what it will cost them I point out that if a person earning $80 a week is unfortunate enough to go to hospital under the nationalised health scheme whereas he now pays 60c a week, it will cost him $1 a week to 'go to a public hospital. If he wishes to go to a private hospital he will have to insure separately for that. In the case of a married couple who are both working, if the husband earns $80 a week he now pays Si. 23 a week. Under the free scheme, about which the Government talks, he will pay $1.74 a week. Who can say that is free hospitalisation or even cheaper than it is now? That is not really the end of the story because under this compulsory national scheme which will operate from July, if a person is unfortunate enough to go to hospital the most he will get back, for having had the privilege of paying almost 2 per cent of his net income, is $13 a day for public hospital accommodation.

In South Australia from 1 September the cost of public ward accommodation in the Royal Adelaide Hospital will be $20 a day for a bed in a public ward, but the person unfortunate enough to go to hospital must pay the difference which is virtually $50 a week. If that person wants to go to a private hospital he will have to pay a difference of at least $140 a week. I should like to hear what the Minister for Housing, who is to follow me in this debate, has to say about this. He can hardly describe it as a free scheme. I do not really believe that this scheme will ever get off the ground. I hope it does not. Admittedly improvements can be made to the existing scheme which is not perfect, but there is no reason for destroying it. This is an example of doctrinaire democratic socialism which we hear about and which seems to be forcing the Labor Party into trying to introduce this scheme.

In the time remaining to me I should like to mention one other matter which I believe is an intolerable invasion of a person's civil liberties. We will all be given a number and issued with a card. In the central bureaucracy there will be a list of the things that we haveever had wrong with us. Anyone in the office can see how many times a person has been in a mental hospital, how many times a woman has had an abortion, how many times a person has had veneral disease and so on. The Government says that that material will not be available. It will not be readily available, but how do people get possession of it? How, for example, did Senator James McClelland obtain a person's medical record and use it against him during a meeting of a Senate committee 2 weeks ago. That was an intolerable intrusion into and denial of that person's personal freedom. At page 35 of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians, honourable members will read of the cross-examination of a witness by Senator James McClelland.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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