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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 507

Senator SIM (Western Australia) - 1 was intrigued with 2 statements made by Senator Poke. The first was an admission, which I had never before heard from a member of the Australian Labor Party, that many workers - he did not define them and I will deal with that point in a moment - voted for the Government. We have been saying that for years but it certainly was news to hear the admission from a member of the Australian Labor Party. I wonder what those workers think when the Government is accused of continually attacking the working man. One can only assume that by continuing to vote for us they are indicating that they agree with what we are saying. It is true that many people who are generally and loosely termed workers do not approve of the actions of many of their union leaders. Too often they are frightened to say so publicly, but when it comes to the secrecy of the ballot box they indicate clearly their disagreement with their union leaders.

I noted with some interest that Senator Poke and many of his colleagues used the term 'worker'. When my colleague Senator Withers suggested to Senator Poke that he define 'worker', and then challenged him to do so, the challenge was not accepted. This is the dilemma which faces the Australian Labor Party. Members of that Party do not know who the workers are. They use this loose expression, but when they are challenged to define it they are unable to do so. Senator Cavanagh, who is now interjecting, tried to help Senator Poke, but even the pair of them could not find a definition for the word 'worker'. I was intrigued by Senator Poke's statement and then his inability to say what he meant.

I come now to the Budget. Although I have not been in this place to see 16 Budgets, as has Senator Poke, I have seen a number of them. I cannot recall a Budget which has received greater support throughout the community than has this one.

Senator McLaren - The gallup polls did not show that the other weekend.

Senator SIM - The honourable senator must have seen a gallup poll that 1 have not seen. Despite what my friend Senator McLaren says, the Budget has received greater support throughout the community than has any other Budget that I can recall. This was because the Budget was completely in line with Liberal Party philosophy, dealing also with the main problems in the community. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) at the second page of the Budget Speech referred to a major problem when he said:

This slackness in consumer spending has been basic to the economy's lack of punch. Our first objective in this Budget, therefore, is to create conditions conducive to stronger consumer spending.

I shall come to thai in a moment. The Treasurer went on to deal with a matter which has been of great concern to everyone in the community. I refer to the question of inflation, in respect of which he said:

I nm glad to say that the heightening tendency has been stopped and there are even some signs that a reversal may be in train. The price indices themselves have slowed somewhat in their upward rush.

Senator Gietzeltreferred to the need to generate greater spending in the public sector. No doubt that is Labor Party philosophy, but certainly it is not ours. Under the heading 'Philosophy and Objectives' the Treasurer said something which many of us on this side of the chamber have been urging for some time, that is that the private sector of the economy should be assisted because no wealth is produced by the public sector; it is produced by the private sector. The public sector simply cannot continue to expand unless wealth is produced by the private sector. For too long we have witnessed the private sector bearing a burden which has been far too heavy. The Treasurer acknowledged this when he said:

Secondly, for some time now public sector spending has run ahead very fast, with private sector spending lagging. There are important needs served by our public expenditures but there are also costs - whether from the viewpoint of the individual taxpayer, who finds taxation more and more a burden, or of the private sector as a whole, which finds its room for growth constrained.

It is central to our objectives that the needed stimulus to the economy should not be by way of an excessive growth of Commonwealth expenditure. We have sought as much scope as possible for reducing the burden of taxation. That has been our primary aim and I believe we have achieved it.

I think these statements are the very basis of the Budget. Its aim is to expand consumer spending, to overcome the sluggishness in the economy and to give further assistance to the private sector, from which all wealth grows. I suggest that not many people would dispute that.

The reaction to the Budget by the Labor Party has been interesting. The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) made a rather pathetic attempt to attack the Budget. For one of the few times in recent history he was taken to task almost unanimously by the Press. I am not a great reader of the Press, nor do I quote from newspapers very often, but in view of the fact that Senator Poke used many quotations from one of the Sydney evening newspapers to bolster his case 1 think I should mention that it was significant that the 'Sydney Morning Herald', with other newspapers, was very critical in its editorial of Mr Whitlam's effort, or lack of it.

Senator Mulvihill - What paper was that?

Senator SIM - The 'Sydney Morning Herald'. I commend a reading of it to the honourable senator, if he has not read it. lt will do his heart good. It may not do his morale much good, but he will benefit from reading it. The editorial which appeared in that newspaper on Thursday. 24th August, had some harsh things to say. The editorial began:

It would be unrealistic to expect Mr Whitlam in his Budget speech not to look towards the election. What is dismaying in the speech is not this but its low opinion of the intelligence and sophistication of the electorate. It offered little analysis. It offered not the foggiest notion of what Labors fiscal alternatives might be. It was brazen in its insincerity.

They are rather strong words, but they were justifiable words when one considers the hotch-potch which went for a speech by Mr Whitlam. A little later the editorial stated:

Far too much of this ill-considered speech consisted of mere abuse and denigration unsupported by rational and detailed argument.

From that start, which was not very promising for an attack by the Labor Party, either here or in another place, one can say that the Opposition has never got off the ground. Senator Poke hardly dealt with the Budget at all during his remarks. One of Mr Whitlam's complaints was that it was a rich man's Budget. No doubt this was an appeal to the socialist mind to which this type of denigration has some appeal.

Senator Webster - Some members of the Opposition are pretty wealthy people. Perhaps it appeals to them, too.

Senator SIM - Perhaps that is why they are so quiet. Perhaps it does appeal to the rich men among them.

Senator Webster - One has only to look at Senator Primmer's car.

Senator SIM - Perhaps they have some explanation for this. 1 ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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