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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1753

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - Mr Acting Deputy President, I am sorry that on the third reading of this Bill this 2-way contest is developing. It was bad enough when the back bench Country Party members turned the debate into a farce right from the start, but I think the fact that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) decided to become one of the players in the farce is rather reprehensible. lt was a very poor show that he should take the opportunity in winding up the debate - that is what the situation amounted to because our intention was not to enter into a major debate on the third reading of the Bill - to be facetiously provocative and to accuse the Opposition of turning the debate into a forum for an election campaign. For the Minister's benefit, I inform him that the $9m that Mr Johannes Bjelke-Petersen is getting under this legislation will be paying for part of his election campaign. As I said earlier in this debate, if honourable senators started to trace where some of the dollars provided by this grant are to go they would be very disturbed indeed.

I join my colleague Senator McAuliffe in saying that it is the Commonwealth Grants Commission itself which backs up the argument which has been put forward by Queensland senators on this side of the chamber. I direct the attention of honourable senators to paragraphs 37 and 38 of the Special Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. These last 2 paragraphs appear on pages 15 and 16 of that report. The Commission states:

37.   The Queensland Government in its submission claimed that the S'tate experiences special difficulties in certain areas of social services, especially police and hospitals, which would warrant the Commission's making additional percentage allowances when comparing Queensland's expenditure with that of the standard States. It also claimed that the Commission should regard Queensland's comparatively low effort in raising revenue in certain fields of taxation as being offset by an above-standard level of railway charges, a relatively high level of rents on Crown lands in country areas, and by the charges made by the State upon its Government Insurance Office in Heu of income tax. These claims are referred to in paragraphs 8 and 9 and 11 to 16 of this Report

38.   The Commission considers that it does not at present have enough information to make a judgment as to the validity of these claims by Queensland. In determining the amount of its recommended advance grant it has not made specific allowance for these factors. It invites the interested parties to submit further evidence so that these matters can be more fully investigated before it recommends a completion grant for Queensland for 1971-72.

I turn now to page 14 of the report to refer to sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph 33, which states:

(iii)   Although the Commonwealth Treasury has emphasised that its approach 'does not differ in its basts in any fundamental way from, and is certainly not inconsistent with, that presently used by the Commission', in advocating its adoption and illustrating its application the Treasury has proposed some significant changes in the principles of comparison in particular fields. These include the proposals concerning education expenditure, debt charges and business undertakings referred to in paragraphs 25 to 28 of this Report.

I could continue to quote extracts from the report, but there are certain time limitations on speeches in this debate at this stage. I wish to refer to 2 points that were raised, first, by Senator McAuliffe-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I remind the honourable senator that a debate on the third reading of a Bill does not permit the honourable senator to revive matters already debated. He may bring forward fresh material.

Senator KEEFFE - Members of the Democratic Labor Party are interjecting. One thing that they do not have is fresh material. I am raising points which have not been previously raised. Mr Deputy President, I seek your help because I believe that, if additional charges are made by Government senators, surely I, representing my Party, have the right to answer those charges.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator has the right to remove misapprehensions.

Senator KEEFFE - Thank you very much. Senator Mcauliffe and I made reference earlier to the freight inquiry, the report of which we have not yet seen. This is a hardy perennial which is raised every time there is an election campaign in Queensland. The Country Party says: 'We will have an inquiry' in respect of any matter raised. But we never see the results of these inquiries. The last one in this category was to be a major inquiry. Do senators know why we have not seen it? We have not seen it because it has been placed before the Literature Board of Review and, like 'The Little Red Schoolbook', it has been declared obscene.

Let me bring up another point. This is new matter, too. I did not have time to raise it earlier in my submissions at the second reading stage. It goes back to what my colleague Senator McAuliffe mentioned. Many months ago a group of people in the Goondiwindi area made an application for aid to build an aged persons home. They were not able to get any satisfaction from any department, Commonwealth or State. Ask Mr BjelkePetersen where he is salting away the money given to him by the Commonwealth for this purpose. We have seen no evidence of the expenditure of any of it, certainly not in this field. I wrote to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) thinking I would get a prompt reply. After many weeks of delay, I got a reply today saying - this is the spirit of the letter - 'I am terribly sorry about all this, but the Minister for Housing is now looking into it'. My God, when does one get results in these matters? This is happening in all fields, Commonwealth and State. Members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party are so busy with their in-fighting that they have no time to attend to the business of government.

Let me rebut some of the stupid arguments advanced by Senator Maunsell. His after dinner speech this evening was the first occasion in this chamber on which he has been able to put 5 sentences together with some coherence. I am not saying that nastily; I am saying it politically. He said that in Queensland these days the highways were wide and free; that no more taxes were charged; that the roads were running beside the railway lines and so on. Can he recall the occasion in the life of this administration in Queensland when it gaoled a man for not paying his road taxes on the cartage of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Atherton Tablelands to Townsville. I am speaking of course of the Country Party-Liberal Government in Queensland. I have in my possession a photograph of this man as he was being removed from the train at Roma Street in handcuffs and carted off to the Boggo Road gaol. Senator Maunsell told a deliberate untruth tonight in saying that there are now no such penalties. It is time he woke up to the political facts of history. He told honourable senators the fairy story that he believed in the Queensland Government's system of secret contracts on rail freights. It is obvious that these contracts favour organisations such as Mount Isa Mines Ltd; they favour all the mining companies with which Senator Wood was and is associated unless they have all gone bankrupt; they favour all the big organisations. But, as I said earlier, they do not favour the little man, the worker-

Senator Primmer - Or the country man.

Senator KEEFFE - Or the country people unless they live within 50 miles of Brisbane, when they receive some sort of favouritism. The cost of living outside the Brisbane metropolitan area, and certainly north of the Tropic of Capricorn, is certainly the highest in Australia. The specious arguments that have been raised in an endeavour to defend the actions of the Country Party-Liberal Government in Queensland have to be heard to be believed. I hope that enough people read the Hansard report of this debate before 27th May to become convinced that the arguments of senators on the Government side are fallacious. I am sorry for the Minister, who was sucked into the argument by back benchers of his own Party and who now finds himself in deeper water than ever. I hope he does not find himself being sucked to death by a political box jellyfish.

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