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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2333

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I address my remarks to subdivision 4 of division 530 in relation to the estimates of expenditure for the Department of Social Security, and in particular, to the Australian Assistance Plan. I think that Senator Milliner who has just sat down addressed his remarks in the broadest, if somewhat irrelevant, fashion to that Une of the Estimates. But it is interesting to reflect that in this chamber one can have all sorts of things attributed to one, as Senator Milliner has attributed them to me. But I have never said anything of the sort. I deny categorically what he is alleging. I say that simply for the record. I did not say what he claims I said and therefore I leave it at that. But in dealing with the Australian Assistance Plan I say that the Opposition has never sought to have any attitude except one of broad support for the concept of an Australian Assistance Plan. We have said- we have said it in the documents which were published prior to the election on May 18- that the imaginative concept of this Assistance Plan warranted our support and we give support to it. It does seek to involve the community in social welfare and this is a desirable development. If the Labor Government is looking for acknowledgement and support from our side of the chamber for what it did in this area it has got it and I repeat it tonight. I said it this afternoon but because I went on to suggest that in the implementation of this plan there were some qualifications, there were some problems and there were some questions which ought to be resolved, I and I think everyone on the Opposition side who has spoken on this issue, have been subject to a tirade of abuse which is typical of the intimidation which the Labor Party seeks to use whenever we on the Opposition side criticise the Government.

Whenever we suggest- and on the evidence it is a perfectly reasonable suggestion- that there is a use of public moneys for the purpose of patronage there is a horrified outcry from the Government. When that horrified outcry occurs we have exhibitions like the one given this evening by the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. We have the tirade of personal abuse and I know why that sort of activity, that sort of tactic is engaged in by members of the Labor Party. They engage in it because they think there are enough weak people on the Opposition side to submit and not come back to the fight if they are subjected to personal abuse. We have seen this in this chamber time and again. We have seen it outside the chamber on occasions too numerous to identify. It is part of the stock-in-trade of the Labor Party's tactics.

I can only say- I repeat this for the information of those honourable senators seeking to interject- that we will not retreat in the face of unreasonable personal abuse. I simply say for the record and in contradiction of Senator Wheeldon that I am not here to develop some sort of social animosity. That is not the view that I hold. I am not here, simply because Senator Wheeldon alleges it, bubbling over with venom. This is the sort of tactic which, as I say, typifies the Australian Labor Party. I have been in this place when the whole 25 or 26 members of the Labor Party have screeched in unison to try to drown me out and they can try it again if they want to but there is something more to freedom of speech and democracy than the Labor Party's version of it. It is interesting to hear the noise with which they endeavour to interrupt to try to prevent others being heard.

Senator Wheeldon - I raise a point of order. I thought, Mr Chairman, that when the discussions started this evening you asked honourable senators to confine themselves to an item of the estimates before the Committee. I have heard no reference, apart from a number that was given at the beginning of Senator Greenwood's remarks- I am not referring to anybody elsewhich is in any way identifiable with an item under the estimates we are discussing.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator WebsterSenator Greenwood announced the item to which he was speaking. I have allowed quite a wide ranging debate. I ask the honourable senator to direct his attention to the item of expenditure under discussion. I would appreciate it if that were done.

Senator GREENWOOD -Mr Chairman,I thank you. I am directing my remarks to that item of expenditure which is related to the sum of $6m under the Australian Assistance Plan which is the item which has occupied the attention of the Senate for the last 1 Vi hours of this debate. I was accused prior to the dinner break of infamous crimes by the Minister and by countless other Government senators who have spoken and I just listened to the tirade which seems to arise when I speak and commence to criticise the Labor Party. The Labor Party is not prepared to have criticism directed to any of its proposals. If an Opposition senator directs criticism at a Government proposal we have the Minister's horse laugh or we have contributions from other senators designed to impede the reception of what is being offered. All I say, and this is the point I was making before the interruption, is that it is a well known device that the Labor Party engages in to shout down an opponent. It is typical of the. authoritarianism, arrogance and dictatorial attitude to which we are subjected.

Senator Wheeldon - I raise a point of order once again. Mr Chairman, I understand that you said that you were going to ask honourable senators to confine themselves to the item of expenditure before the Commnittee. Senator Greenwood is not doing that. I would ask you a question by way of raising a point of order. Are you going to allow a general discussion on the respective merits of the various political parties in this chamber or are you, as I thought you had indicated at the beginning of this evening's session, going to ask honourable senators to confine themselves to the estimates before the Committee?

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