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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2589

Senator WOOD (Queensland) -A case is being made out by the Government- it is more like a propaganda message- that inflation and unemployment in this country are operating here only because they are operating in other countries. Of course, that is a complete fabrication. The position is that we have inflation and massive unemployment in this country because of the actions which this Government has taken since it came into office in December 1972. It is very clear that when it took office inflation was not an item of great concern to this country because at that time it was running at about 4 per cent. Today it has shot up considerably and yesterday afternoon I noticed that one newspaper said that inflation was rising at the rate of 25 per cent while another said it was 30 per cent. This indicates that inflation today is getting to a very dangerous level. Many people may not think inflation worries them very much but what it does is to cause their money to lose its value. Those thrifty people who have saved find that the value is going out of their money, and this is a very serious thing to those people. Therefore, I think that people should be awakened to this problem,

We were told the story by Mr Whitlam during the 18 May election campaign that the Government had collared inflation which was then on the down trend. What he did not tell the people of Australia was that the March quarter always shows the lowest inflation rate of the year. But that particular March quarter happened to be the worst March quarter for 22 years. I believe that the Prime Minister misled the public when he stated that the Government had collared inflation because ever since then the inflation rate has gone up considerably. There is no argument that inflation is now raging at a very dangerous rate. To say that inflation in this country is imported is sheer nonsense. We are fortunate in that we have not been affected like many other countries which have had to import great quantities of oil, thanks to Liberal-Country Party Governments which gave encouragement to the development of this industry for over 23 years. We encouraged the search for oil and as a result this country is a very lucky country. I believe that if that tempo of search had continued we would have been today in an even better position. That is one aspect of inflation. But it is rather serious when the Government of the day comes out at election time and says that it has collared inflation, that it is going down, when it is really rising at a very rapid rate.

To suggest that we have unemployment because there is unemployment overseas is just plain nonsense. We had what might be termed a very reasonable amount of unemployment when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office. It was the actions of this Government which brought on the great rate of unemployment that has since taken place. There is no question that in days gone by the Labor Party was known as a high tariff Party because high tariffs meant that our own Australian industries, behind that tariff protection wall, had a chance to build up without fear of competition from other countries. But what did this Whitlam Labor Government do? It cut tariffs on some imported products that are also made in Australia by 25 per cent. This was the result of one of the great theories of Mr Whitlam who knows nothing about economics. The result has been that we have had a flood of goods from cheap labour countries, from South East Asia in particular. The result has been that thousands of Australians have been put out of work. These people have held demonstrations. We read about factories closing and unfortunately a number of these factories have been located in country areas. With all the Government's talk about decentralisation, this has been one of the greatest tragedies for decentralisation in this country. Factory after factory has closed down. There is a serious situation in the clothing industry, the footwear industry, the car industry and so on.

This is not only said by me as a Liberal senator. What did Mr Hawke, the President of the Australian Labor Party and the head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions say? He was stressing the great seriousness of unemployment, so much so that he put the gun at the head of the Government and gave it just a few days to rectify the position. If the leader of the ALP and leader of the ACTU says that it indicates that the step that this Government took was a very serious one indeed. I feel that unemployment was started by the Whitlam Labor Government. Mr Whitlam did not care two hoots about the unemployed. He galloped off overseas on one of his many splendid trips. He is now to have another trip for his Christmas holidays and will see his own family in London at a cost of half a million dollars to the people of Australia. Does he worry about the people who are unemployed and the people who are having great trouble? As we know women in Queensland demonstrated and carried placards because they are out of jobs in the clothing industry.

Senator McAuliffe - Organised by the Country Party member for the South Coast electorate.

Senator WOOD - I wish to say to my colleague from Queensland that I believe in the sincerity of the women who turned up for the demonstration. Those women are out of work and they are asking for jobs. There is no argument about it. Even Mr Hawke said that they were out of work and that jobs should be found for them. Goodness gracious me, what happened because of the ultimatum that was put forward? The kitchen Cabinet, or whoever it is, met and came out with a number of proposals to rectify the position. I think it is quite apparent that this Government has had to back pedal on every one of the steps it has taken since it came into office in 1972. It has done a complete somersault. As a matter of fact I read an article the other day which stated that this Government has been the greatest somersaulter ever in this Parliament. As a matter of fact I believe it has somersaulted to such an extent that I understand Mr Whitlam is thinking about joining a Russian troupe of acrobats which is coming to Australia as the leading Australian somersaulter

It is a very serious matter to know that this Government did these things purposely. There is no question about it. The Government created unemployment purposely. It is what it was aiming for. Why it did so, I do not know. We are being told here day after day that the reason the economy is in a mess in this country is the obstruction of the Senate. I have a list of the Bills that the Senate has deferred or rejected. None of the Bills which have been deferred or defeated by the Senate has had anything to do with the economics of this country; nothing at all. How can the Senate be said to have brought about unemployment, inflation and the wreckage of the economy of this country? In 1972 Mr Whitlam promised the people of Australia the moon. What have they got? They have almost a wrecked economy; they have raging inflation; and they have massive unemployment. There is no question about it. The people of this country are worried about what is going on.

The Government has somersaulted. It has taken an about turn on practically everything it has done in order to try to recitify the position. The unfortunate part is that once these things start they have a psychological effect. Putting people out of work in the way the Government has done is like standing up a set of dominoes and touching one. They all go. Whereas this country previously had confidence today the business community is lacking in confidence. Business is worried. Large firms have gone into liquidation. It is all right saying business should have done this and should have done that. When firms are working under a credit scheme they are entitled to credit. They work on the basis of credit. It is just like sap in a tree. If a tree is ringbarked and the sap is cut off it dies quickly. If the source of credit for these big industries and firms is cut off the same happens to them. Not only is wreckage brought to the business houses but it also occurs in the way of unemployment for the people of this country.

I take this opportunity of speaking because of things I have heard said here today. Senator Wriedt spoke in such a way that I want to say that the wreckage that this Labor Government has caused in this country to our economy, the raging inflation it has brought about and the massive unemployment, with lots more to come, has had nothing to do with the Senate. It has been caused by the silly schemes of the Labor

Party. When it was put into office it purposely set out to cause inflation and to wreck the economy of this country. I hope that the people of this country will be alert and awake and realise that responsibility for the tragedy of moving from a country with a solid financial base to what we have today lies to the discredit of the Labor Party. During the 23 years that the LiberalCountry Parties were in office there was solid progress. We were respected throughout the world because of our reliability in business and industry.

We hear the Government yelling about multinationals. In my region of Mackay in north Queensland there are coal fields. For many years we were trying to get Australian people to work them. They would not be interested. The multinationals came in and brought about the prosperity of that area. The men working in those areas got much higher wages than they ever had before. We are very fortunate for the multinationals bringing their money in and developing these resources of Australia. Because of the overseas credits they are earning this country is stable- even under the present conditions. The Labor Party talks about these multi-nationals. Dr Cairns was in America recently pleading with these people to come and put money into Australia again. He talked to the gangster oil sheikhs from the oil countries and tried to get them to bring money into Australia. This is all back pedalling and exactly the opposite of what the Government said before.

Mr Whitlamnow talks about how wonderful private enterprise is for the creation of work. What did he say before? When we come across this hypocrisy it makes us sick. Why, the Labor Party, during the last election campaign, engaged an overseas-owned multi-national advertising company to do its advertising so it would get back into government. The Party had the same foreign-owned multi-national company to do its advertising in 1972. What is more interesting than anything else is that the Labor Party still owed the foreign-owned multinational company $200,000 for the 1972 election campaign. At the 18 May election these haters of multi-national foreign-owned companies had a multi-national company financing their campaign to the extent of $200,000 and more.

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - Have they ever paid it?

Senator WOOD - I do not know. I have not checked on that. This is a case of hypocrisy. On the one hand the Government criticised the multi-nationals but now it is pandering to them to bring their money into Australia and help develop the country further.

Let us be straight about these sorts of things. I resent the statement that the Senate has caused the trouble. The raging unemployment, the inflation that is running like fire through this country and the wrecked economy has been caused by this Labor Government and not by the Senate. It has been caused by Mr Whitlam and probably his kitchen Cabinet. I think probably that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and a few of the more down to earth members should be taken into that kitchen Cabinet. I am sure that it would then bring forth a less indigestible meal for the people of Australia than the present kitchen Cabinet has. I want to say that it is not the Senate that is to blame; the Whitlam Labor Government is to blame for the mess in which this country now finds itself.

Senator Wriedt - I think it would be in the interests of the Senate if we stopped this pure politicking, put this motion to the vote and proceeded to the next legislation.

The PRESIDENT - Are you moving that the debate be now adjourned?

Senator Wriedt - I do not have to.

The PRESIDENT - Let me make this clear. The motion before the Chair is that the Bill -

Senator Durack - Mr President,a point of order.

The PRESIDENT -I just want to make the position clear.

Senator Durack - A point of order -

The PRESIDENT -I am on my feet. Please resume your seat. The question before the Chair is: That the Bill be read a first time. I want to be quite clear as to what motion the Minister wants to move.

Senator Durack - Mr President,I take a point of order. Senator Wriedt has already spoken in this debate.


Senator Durack - With great respect to you, Senator Wriedt has spoken at some length in this debate.

Senator Wriedt - No, not in this debate.

The PRESIDENT -Order! Senator Wriedtmoved first of all: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed though all its stages without delay. Secondly, he moved: That the Bill be now read a first time. Senator Wood spoke. We had a debate on whether it was a tax Bill. I ruled that it was a tax Bill and Senator Wood continued after an explanation by Senator Cotton.

Senator Cotton - May I involve myself in this point of order? I think it is correct to say that Senator Wriedt spoke in regard to the first BillCustoms Tariff Bill 1974- which on the initiative of Senator Walsh was deferred. We are now dealing with Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1974 on which Senator Wriedt has not spoken but on which others have. It is still a money Bill. Others may speak broadly if they wish to do so. Senator Wriedt has not made it clear to me whether he wishes to put the question, and that is what I want made clear.

Senator Wriedt - Mr President,if you deem it necessary for me to move the adjournment of the debate I shall do so. I therefore formally move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Ordered that the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.

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