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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4458

Mr McVEIGH (Darling Downs) - I participate in this debate this evening, and I am rather disappointed that I have to defend a company, that is active in my area, from the disparaging remarks of and the scurrulous attack by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during question time this morning. The Prime Miinster under parliamentary privileges saw fit to attack Toowoomba Foundry Pty Ltd and the Premier of Queensland. On behalf of that company and the Premier I will not accept his arrogance. I share the opinion of many people in Australia that this man has no conscience whatsoever in matters of personal integrity. The Prime Minister said that the Toowoomba Foundry had exploited primary producers for decades and that the company had been shielded by the Premier. I take the opportunity to pay a tribute to the Toowoomba Foundry which since 1872 has made employment available to the residents of Toowoomba and the surrounding districts. It has operated on a continuing basis. It now employs 1,100 people. In fact the economy of Toowoomba - and of Queensland as my colleague the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) reminds me - depends to a large extent on this magnificent family partner ship.

The Prime Minister proved that he is an actor. He implied that he would be happier if 1,100 people in Toowoomba had no jobs. He does not want the foundry to operate. He does not want decentralisation. I hope that at the next election the people of Toowoomba remember that the Prime Minister endeavoured to close the foundry. I compare his attitude to that of my colleague, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), who, prior to the last election, saw fit to carry out an inspection of the Toowoomba foundry. He spoke to the employees and congratulated them on their work. He congratulated the management of the company on the combination of free enterprise and labour. The Prime Minister places no significance whatsoever on the families of these workers. He would rather see them have no employment. Today I received a telegram signed by one of the Board members of Toowoomba Foundry Pty Ltd. It states:

The directors of the Toowoomba Foundry Company of whom the majority are non-shareholders and joined the Foundry as boys strongly deny and resent any allegations made by the Prime Minister that the Toowoomba Foundry Company has exploited anyone by supplying their customers with goods at prices they have paid of their own free will in free competition.

The company supplies, in addition to farming and pastoral needs such as engines, pumping and irrigation equipment, casting for automotive industries supplied under contract through open competition. The foundry has never exploited the primary producer. Families for generations have dealt with the foundry on account of the known quality of its products and the economics of its price. This is a highly competitive field.

Mr Morrison - I rise to a point of order. Is it proper for the honourable member to use the debate on the adjournment of the House for trade promotion for a company with which he has obviously been every closely associated.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Mr McVEIGH - The people continue to buy the products of the Foundry because they know they will get a fair deal with the customer always being right. The service is excellent. My family for 3 generations has bought products from the Toowoomba Foundry. I submit I would know a little bit more about the quality of its products than the Prime Minister in his ivory towers in Canberra, Sydney, and the other residences which he has. He would not know. As the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) reminds me, the Minister for Science (Mr Morrison) who is at the table, would not have a clue either. As far as primary producers are concerned many self-employed people scattered all over the farming areas of Australia served their apprenticeship at the foundry. This is a magnificent contribution by a magnificent company and a magnificent family to the economy of many rural areas. Incidentally, the tradesmen trained at the Foundry have reached a very high standard of tradesmanship and efficiency. Many firms have held the distribution agency for Southern Cross products since the last century. This reinforces the argument that the Foundry does not and will not exploit its customers.

The Australian Country Party completely dissociates itself from the remarks of the Prime Minister. The Country Party criticises the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues for their decisions on currency realignment policies which made it hard for export companies like the Toowoomba Foundry to compete in the markets of South-East Asia and America. We are concerned that the Prime Minister made these accusations under parliamentary privilege. This is disgusting behaviour. He should be asked by this House to send a public apology to the company for his character assassination and mischievous behaviour. It ill behoves him to make such sweeping statements which seek to deny workers the opportunity of employment. The Prime Minister simply does not care about the disruption of families and workers which could be caused if the Toowoomba Foundry were forced to close through pressure exerted by a centralist government in Canberra. It is no wonder that the gallup polls in Queensland show that this Labor Government is an utter disaster for the Commonwealth of Australia. The Toowoomba Foundry has made its way by the quality of its products, its concern for its employees, its competitive pricing and its dedication to service. I know, Mr Speaker, that as a man of outstanding integrity and character you would be interested to know that the Toowoomba Foundry maintains in Toowoomba for the exclusive use of its employees 19 acres of oval with a clubhouse, and the oval is equal to the very best in Queensland. The company has 12 acres of buildings and makes a magnificient contribution to the social, economic and business life of that very important city.

My final comment is to make a brief defence of the Premier of Queensland. The Prime Minister saw fit to include him in his reference to the Toowoomba Foundry by saying that he was aiding and abetting that company in exploiting the people. We do not accept that it is exploiting the people. In a positive effort to encourage decentralisation and to do something about halting the drift of rural people to the overcrowded areas of Sydney with the consequent problems of sewerage, hospitals, education, green bans and so on, the Premier of Queensland has seen fit to give freight subsidies on steel products from the seaboard to inland areas. He has seen fit to encourage the youth of this country to carry out apprenticeships with this family company to learn a trade. If this is the type of exploiting that the Premier of Queensland is encouraging in conjunction with such companies as the Toowoomba Foundry, Napiers and other companies in my electorate, it is the type of exploitation that I stand for - exploitation that is honest and just and encourages decentralisation.

That is what we stand for - a positive way of helping these people contribute in a very sensible way to the well-being of their respective areas. We are disturbed that the Prime Minister in a moment of peevish behaviour, because he was upset at a truthful advertisement that appeared in certain newspapers in Queensland, pointing out the fact of life that there is no necessity whatever to have control over prices and incomes in order to control inflation, and because he was upset that private enterprise in the premier State of Australia - as was admitted by the Minister for Northern Development {Dr Patterson) or whatever is his portfolio now; he seems to get the sack every second day-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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