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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1519

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) - The Opposition believes that this matter does not have the extreme urgency which the Government is giving to it. We have seen a situation in which the Government has changed its mind on more than one occasion. First of all there was not going to be a referendum, even on prices control, and then the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) changed his mind about that. Last week the Caucus had one attitude on a referendum which included a reference to incomes and it has another view this week. The Government itself and Government supporters have been backing and filling on all these issues. There are differences of interpretation between the Prime Minister and the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party. This does not indicate some element of extreme urgency which the Government is now trying to indicate. I think the speed with which there is an attempt to force this matter through the Parliament indicates the complete contempt with which the Prime Minister holds this Parliamenment and his refusal to announce major policy decisions in this Parliament is a further example of this. It is an example of a power hungry Government that is wanting more power for itself, but not on the merits of the case. Already it has refused to use the powers it has in relation to inflation. It refuses to cooperate with the States which have offered co-operation because it wants power for itself for power's sake and for the sake of more power alone. That is the sort of approach that the Opposition will reject.

But there is another reason why we want to oppose the urgency in the putting aside of normal business. A particularly urgent matter has occurred in New South Wales where thousands of people are immediately affected, where tens of thousands of people are likely to be out of jobs in a very short space of time and unemployment is likely to become very great. It is a matter which affects individuals at work and at home. The editorial in the Daily Telegraph' the other day indicated that there were black-outs when a doctor was trying to save the life of a patient. So the matter that is urgent is the strike situation and the power situation in New South Wales. Whilst the Prime Minister has sought to say and did say at his Press conference yesterday that this is not a matter for the Commonwealth or for this Parliament - he made that quite plain at his Press conference and he made it quite plain that the Commonwealth will not intervene - one of his Ministers has quite directly intervened in this case on the side of the power unions. He has supported the power unions in subverting the industrial laws of New South Wales. That is the matter that we want to debate.

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - Mr Speaker -

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The time allowed for the debate has expired.

Question put -

That the motion (Mr Daly's) be agreed to.

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