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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1758

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) - May I explain to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who seems now to be handling the Bill, the outrage that Queensland senators feel at the position in which we have been placed and in which Queensland has been placed as a result of his speech. For the first time in its history Queensland has become a claimant State. We express to the Minister the embarrassment that we feel when we hear him state that Queensland now is a lesser State than New South Wales or Victoria. Can he imagine or will he ever be in a position to feel such a humiliation? I doubt if he ever will be. I hope he will not; he comes from the strongest State. But he must appreciate that for the first time Queensland has become a claimant State, with all the consequences which flow from that. It is for this reason that we have entered this debate.

As Queenslanders we have a right to debate this proposition in this chamber. On many occasions we have listened to honourable senators from Tasmania thrashing out their tribal problems in this chamber. They have a right to do so. For many hours we have listened to honourable senators from South Australia argue the rights and the wrongs of the Chowilla Dam. They had a right to debate that in this chamber because, after all, this is a States House. Honourable senators from Queensland and all other honourable senators have a responsibility to expose the weaknesses which exist in their area of representation. The Minister has no right to criticise Queensland honourable senators for endeavouring to outline the weaknesses of the present Country-Liberal Party Government. That Government because of its in competence has placed Queensland for the first time in the position of being a claimant State. We make no apologies whatsoever to the Minister or to any member of the Government for standing here over the last day and a half and debating points, making points, exposing criticisms and denouncing the Queensland Government and its leaders for incompetency.

Senator Webster - Does the honourable senator not think that the Queensland Government spent a lot of money trying to clear people out of the gutters up there?

Senator GEORGES - Senator Webster refers to an incident which occurred some time ago when many Australians were protesting against the-

Senator Gietzelt - The escalation in Vietnam?

Senator GEORGES - It was not so much that-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Honourable senators will cease this argument across the chamber.

Senator GEORGES - The interjections merely disclose the position of honourable senators on the Government side on some very vital issues. I suggest to them that they not raise these matters, because by their doing so we might enter into a debate which might be to their-

Senator Webster - Might end up in the gutter?

Senator GEORGES - It might lead to a debate which will be to their considerable disadvantage. But Senator Webster refers to the situation, position or events which occurred in Queensland during the antiapartheid demonstrations. Those demonstrations were caused by the actions of the Queensland Premier, no less, who escalated the protests.

Senator Webster - I think this is good to go on the air.

Senator GEORGES - Yes, it is good to go on the air. The. incident to which the honourable senator refers merely highlights the incompetence of the Queensland Premier who is, as I have explained before, a precursor of violence..

Senator Hannan - What does 'precursor' mean?

Senator GEORGES - A precursor is one who is a forerunner. If the honourable senator does not know what precursor means I suggest that he look up the meaning in the dictionary. This Premier of Queensland through his very incompetence, and his failure to assess the situation properly, declared a state of emergency in Queensland. As a result members of the police force who were supposed to be protecting the ordinary citizens against criminals were drawn from all parts of Queensland and brought to Brisbane to supervise and to so-call protect 30 footballers at the Exhibition Grounds. It was an overreaction by a Premier who has no sense of priorities whatsoever. As we have said in this debate, it merely indicates that he and his Government are not a government of sufficient competence to lead Queensland or to in any way fulfil its destiny. I am sorry that J have been in some way sidetracked. At another time I shall take on Senator Webster in relation to the matter that he raised. We will see just where the honourable senator stands on apartheid, racialism and what is happening in Vietnam. We will give the honourable, senator an opportunity to get to his feet and explain just where he stands on these issues. 1 reiterate, that we have come into this debate to highlight the feelings of the Opposition, especially Queensland senators, and to press very strong opposition to a government which has brought Queensland to the point of applying as a claimant State, for Federal assistance. As I say, that is the ultimate humiliation. We hope that this does not occur again. I say that the most effective way to see that there is no recurrence of this claim is to see - we trust, that we will see - a change of government in Queensland on the 27th May. Senator Wood is the one who mentioned the election. He is the one who claimed that we were electioneering. Since he has brought this matter before the Senate, we hope that on 27th May there will be a change of government in Queensland so that this situation will not recur.

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