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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1516

Mr LYNCH (Flinders) (Deputy Leader of of the Opposition) - The motion which has been moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) represents one of the most glaring examples of the present Government's ad hoc-ery. In fact this motion was conceived in haste, introduced in haste and foreshadows a debate which does no credit to this Government or to this House. The motion is typical of a Government which continues in this place to use its numbers in a ruthless fashion to force legislation through. (Government supporters interjecting) -

Mr LYNCH - All the jackals can howl as loudly as they like but the facts are a matter of record. The Government used its numbers-

Mr Keogh - We have had some good training in that.

Mr LYNCH - The honourable member could do with some of that good training too. I suggest it might even get him closer to a Cabinet position. He is a long way from it at present.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the House was heard in comparative silence. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr LYNCH - I appreciate your protection, Mr Speaker. It is very difficult to speak when the jackals are howling as loudly as they are at present. I was making the point that this legislation has been forced through this House - as have so many other major pieces of legislation - without adequately considered examination by the Opposition Parties. It represents, as members of the Labor Party all know, a total volte face by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who, firstly, opposed in the Caucus the concept of price control and then proceeded to introduce a price control Bill into this House; and secondly, rejected publicly a prices and incomes policy as outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) but is now proceeding to seek power over both prices and incomes at federal level. If this matter has the importance which the Leader of the House alleges, let it receive the full scrutiny of debate in this House. But the Government, consistent with its past performance, denies that opportunity. It is making a mockery and a sham of the institution of Parliament in Australia.

If this matter has the degree of urgency which the Leader of the House alleges, let the people of this country know that it has been generated by this Government, which apparently is prepared to spend Australia into higher and higher levels of inflation. The Leader of the House used many fine words to express concern about the position of the poor and the underprivileged. No doubt they include some of those people he thinks voted for his party on 2 December last. But let him remember that if the situation of these people is as he alleges it to be in this country today - a matter of concern - the same sense of concern has not arisen with respect to inflation in the past 20 years. It arises now simply because of the ad hoc, ill-conceived and fragmented policy which this Government has introduced in the area of inflation.

All members on both sides of the House know that inflation was a reducing factor when the former government went out of office last December. It was at 4.6 per cent and reducing. It is now running at a notional rate of 13 per cent. The responsibility for that massive increase in the inflationary spiral must be sheeted home to no other group and to no other party than the Government party opposite. Pensioners, superannuants and those people who are in receipt of fixed incomes all know and publicly recognise that this Government has deserted the cause that it ought to be standing for.

This motion seeking to suspend the Standing Orders demonstrates the complete and total contempt of the Prime Minister for the institution of Parliament. It is designed to allow the Government to force through this House a Bill of major economic and social consequence without warning and without any opportunity for a full and considered debate. The first warning which the Opposition parties received - not atypical but consistent with the performance of this Government - came not from the Government itself but from the Press. That is what we have come to expect.

The Prime Minister of this country is a man who makes more statements on matters of significance to Australia outside this House than he is prepared to make inside it. It is no secret also that there are a number of Ministers in this House and in the other place who have failed to produce even one parliamentary statement on the affairs of their portfolios. The Prime Minister will be reminded of them if he thinks of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham), the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) and, in the other place, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop), the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) and the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee). Not one of those silent six has to this stage of the parliamentary year been prepared to put down in this Parliament one major ministerial statement which could be debated. This is typical of the Government which seeks to conceal its inadequacies and its deficiencies, as it now seeks to do, by forcing legislation through the Parliament.

The Government apparently expects this House to pass the Constitution Alteration (Incomes) Bill as some kind of formality. It is about time the Prime Minister realised that this Parliament is not designed to function and to act as the automatic ratifying authority for every Government proposition. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is still clinging desperately to his De Gaullean concept. I would have thought that if the Government and the Prime Minister had learned one thing - and the Leader of the House is constantly preaching the lessons that ought to be learned - it was the lesson of the Parramatta byelection result. That massive swing against the Government, not attributable to the simple fact of a by-election, was a sharp rebuff to Government and to a Prime Minister with no clear concept as to how to handle Australia's inflationary problems.

Mr MacKellar - He is totally out of touch.

Mr LYNCH - Yes, he is totally out of touch not simply with the people but also with the need to take a firm stand to curb inflation. The Government and the Prime Minister have not learned the lesson of Parramatta. They have not yet learned the lesson of the result of the last Victorian State election. And there are more lessons to come - this will be demonstrated in State elections to be held in this country in the near future. The Prime Minister must stand indicted as a man who has allowed the inflationary spiral in this country to get out of hand. This is the worst bout of inflation that this country has seen for 20 years-

Mr Mathews - Who was in office then?

Mr LYNCH - The honourable member asks who was in office. The former Government has a very good record of economic management. If the honourable member and his colleagues opposite who are trying to interject, thinks back to December last year he will recall that inflation was a reducing factor of 4.6 per cent. That does show- (Government supporters interjecting)-

Mr LYNCH - We can hear how sensitive Government supporters are on the question of inflation. They know that their Government was rejected at Parramatta. The by-election figures indicate without doubt that all members on the Government benches of this House stand indicted for the fragmented, ad hoc, piecemeal approach which they have brought to the problem of fighting inflation in this country. I will not use up the full time available to me because there are other honourable members in the Opposition side who are anxious to speak and to make other points as they will and will do well. The Opposition rejects the motion before the Chair.

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