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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2076

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - Mr

President,I join with those who sit on your left in supporting the Social Services Bill (No. 3). I have very few remarks to address to it, except to say that I congratulate the Opposition on the form of its amendment. I think it is the third amendment of this type that it has chosen to move during this session, but this is the first of the three which is constructive. I will be pleased to support it because it is constructive and not destructive as have been the other amendments. I refer especially to the one in relation to the payment to Tasmania. However, I am somewhat intrigued by the advocacy of Opposition senators that a great deal more money should be spent at this time, because their Leader is advocating a very great reduction in the planned expenditure of government from 32.5 per cent to 25 per cent, I believe. The figure of 25 per cent is one with which I really agree. It seems to me that this is a legitimate figure and one that can be supported by the rate of inflation and, hopefully, some productivity increase in the community. But I cannot see how Opposition senators can reconcile their advocacy tonight to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars more of the community's funds as I imagine Senator Baume 's advocacy would mean.

Senator Baume - Pipeline money.

Senator STEELE HALL - It is a special sort of money apparently. But I take it it would have to come out of the Budget recommendations. I assume it would cost an enormous amount of money, and I cannot reconcile the honourable senator's advocacy with that of his leader. If the Senate is to mean anything in its approach to the problems of Australia at this time it is up to the honourable senators who advocate the spending of more money to say how much they are going to put on the figure which is presented to them here.

At least Senator Guilfoyle was more specific. She advocated the spending of $25m to $35m additional for those people included in the terms of her amendment, namely, widowers and deserted husbands with dependent children. She has put forward the proposition that they should be eligible for benefit on the same basis as widows and deserted wives. I am happy to support this amendment. I understand from the honourable senator who moved the amendment that this would amount to between $2 5 m and $35m. I assume, of course, that this is an Opposition promise. I assume that what is contained in this amendment is a promise to the community by the Opposition if it comes to office in the near future or in the longer period of time. In the same way I take it that the amendment moved in relation to the grants to Tasmania was a promise to the community. As I said in this House, that promise would have to be extended, in my view, to Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Senator Withers, who is interjecting, will have a considerable amount of trouble if he does not intend to be equitable in the moves he supports in this House. I refer to the several together because we are seeing the development of a certain aggregate of promises on behalf of the Opposition. If the Opposition comes to office, as it is widely predicted it will, in the first half of next year, we will look for an early fulfilment of those programs. Certainly as an interested observer I will do what I can to ensure that the Opposition fulfils its promises if it is in any position to do so.

I simply want to say that in voting for this amendment and the promise which it involves I am rather intrigued that the Leader of the Liberal Party in the Opposition in Australia is travelling this country advocating a reduction of a very considerable percentage in government spending. I would just voice my interest in that very adept proposition, namely, that one can increase expenditure very considerably at the same time as one can reduce it. So I will do my best to see that the Opposition fulfils its rather miraculous promises.

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