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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2605

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I rise to draw the attention of the Senate and of the people at large to what has been taking place in this chamber today. Firstly, we witnessed a filibuster on the first reading stage of a Bill. Honourable senators opposite have been endeavouring to delay the passage of measures introduced into this House to make moneys available to the States.

Senator Webster - I raise a point of order. Mr Acting Deputy President, you called me to order and directed my attention to the 2 Bills that are before the House. An honourable senator on the Government side has risen and has not said one word about the housing industry. You have allowed him to continue. I draw your attention to that fact.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McAuliffe)- Senator Webster, as an observant senator you will have seen that when Senator McLaren got the call and started to speak I was engaged with the 2 Whips and did not hear what Senator McLaren said. In fairness I have to say that I did not hear what he said but I will be very attentive and will listen to what he says from now on.

Senator Webster - I apologise.

Senator McLAREN - Senator Webster,in his eagerness to take up some of my time, did not allow me to relate my remarks to the cognate debate on the 2 Bills before us. They are the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill and the Housing Agreement Bill. We have witnessed here today a deliberate attempt by honourable senators opposite, and in particular by Senator Webster, to delay the passage of these Bills which are to make finance available to the States. The States are waiting for the finance. Senator Webster criticised the Government for not giving full support to the States for their housing programs and for withholding money. Also, in the course of his remarks, Senator Webster criticised members of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and called them the 'silly people'. I would have expected you, Mr Acting Deputy President, to have brought the honourable senator to a fullstop when he criticised the gentlemen of the Arbitration Commission. He referred to the 'silly people '.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTSenator, I hope you are not reflecting on the Chair. I never heard the remark. I know that you, Senator McLaren, did not mean to reflect on the Chair.

Senator McLAREN - Mr Acting Deputy President,I fully realise that in the heat of the debate here this evening you may not have heard the remark. I heard it and I think it is a disrespectful remark for Senator Webster to make. He is Chairman of Committees in the Senate and is expected to set an example of decorum to members on both the Government side and the Opposition side. We debated a matter of decorum here last night. Last Thursday night Senator Webster brought to the attention of the Senate the decorum which should be followed here. Yet he has spoken here tonight and ridiculed people who have been appointed to the Arbitration Commission. He referred to them as silly people because they brought down a decision with which he and his Party are not in agreement. I take umbrage at statements like that.

I wish to repeat, because of the continued interruptions, that Senator Webster and his colleagues are trying deliberately to prevent the passage of these Bills this evening. The Bills will make available finance to the States. I refer to a statement made by Senator Hall. He deliberately criticised the present Premier of South Australia. Over the years when both Senator Hall and Mr Dunstan sat in the South Australian Parliament Senator Hall was always the loser in debates. But Senator Hall comes to this place and tries to use the issue of Monarto to denigrate the Premier of South Australia. He said that Mr Dunstan, since he has been Premier, has deliberately misled the people of South Australia. I wish to link my remarks to the time when Senator Hall was Premier and deliberately misled the the people of South Australia. I refer to the time when he was fighting for his political life. Because of the misleading statements he made to the people of South Australia he lost government. I refer to a pamphlet which has Senator Hall's photograph on the front cover.

Senator Webster - I take a point of order. It is offensive for me to hear a member on the Government side say that an Opposition member deliberately misled the people of South Australia. That is offensive because I have a regard for Senator Hall and I know that he would not do that. I ask for the statement to be withdrawn.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McAuliffe)- There is no substance to the point of order.

Senator McLAREN -The tactics Senator Webster is adopting are quite obvious. He was in here when Senator Hall spoke and did not rise to his feet when Senator Hall made the statement that the Premier of South Australia had deliberately misled the electors of South Australia. I have conclusive proof, in a document published by Senator Hall, that he deliberately misled the electors of South Australia. The document has Senator Hall's photograph on the front cover. The pamphlet states: 'This is Steele Hall'. The pamphlet was published at the time Senator Hall was Premier of South Australia. He talks about his aims to build Chowilla Dam and to safeguard Australia's water supply. Of course what he did is history. When he was elected he sold out to Mr Bolte in Victoria. He sold out and we lost Chowilla Dam.

Senator Chaney - I raise a point of order. Standing order 4 1 9 states:

No Senator shall digress from the subject matter of any Question under discussion -

I submit to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that what is being debated now by the honourable senator opposite has nothing to do with the matter under discussion and is irrelevant.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McAuliffe)- I thank Senator Chaney for inviting my attention to that standing order. I wish he had been in the House earlier and heard the previous debate. If he had he would have been up and down like a yoyo. In the circumstances, I will allow Senator McLaren to continue and I ask him, as an experienced senator, to bear in mind standing order 419.

Senator Steele Hall -Tell the truth.

Senator McLAREN - Senator Hallhas just interjected and said that I should tell the truth. Senator Hall deliberately told an untruth in his remarks. What I am stating here is, in fact, the truth. I am referring to a published document which was authorised by Senator Hall himself. It ill behoves him to interject and say that I should tell the truth. If he is disowning this pamphlet from which I am quoting it seems a funny thing to me that he should put his name to it and have his photograph on the front. When I quote from it he says that I ought to tell the truth.

Senator Webster - Will you table the document?

Senator McLAREN - I will table it because I have a cupboard full of them. The only reason I mentioned Chowilla was that Senator Hall stated that the present Premier of South Australia had misled the electors of South Australia on Monarto. I had to rise to my feet to prove that that was erroneous and that Senator Hall himself had misled the electors. He said that the Premier of South Australia was forcing public servants in South Australia to go to live at Monarto. I think that I can link my remarks to this Bill because there will be a very big housing project at Monarto. I know that all the Liberals, and Senator Hall included, have been emphatically opposed to Monarto since its inception for the very reason that it is a project that was launched by the Australian Labor Party, particularly in South Australia. I have spoken on this matter on numerous occasions in this House and I have pointed out that every major project that has been launched by an Australian Labor Party government has been opposed by the Liberals.

I want to return to what Senator Hall said about the South Australian Labor Government forcing public servants in South Australia to go to Monarto. I quote from Hansard for the South Australian House of Assembly of 2 October at page 1248. The official spokesman for Monarto at that time, Mr Dean Brown, was standing in for the honourable member for Murray, Mr Wardle. He asked the following question in the House in relation to Monarto:

Can the Minister of Development and Mines say by what date it is expected that the employment of 2,500 public servants will be transferred from Adelaide to Monarto?

Of course that very well respected member of the League of Rights, Mr Gunn, the member for Eyre- I think that he is or has been in the past closely associated with Senator Hall- said: Conscripted'. That was the very word used by Senator Hall in this debate tonight. He said that these public servants were being conscripted to go to Monarto. Mr Dean Brown went on to say:

Yes, conscripted. On 18 January this year, a newspaper report -

Senator Hallbases his argument on this report- stated that people would be living at Monarto in 1976. The report quotes the Minister as saying that people would be living there in 1976-77. One would presume that, in making that statement, the Minister was referring to far more people than the few who are living there at present in some farm houses. Moreover, on 15 July 1974, a report on page 1 of the Advertiser' stated that 4,000 public servants were expected to be transferred to Monarto in 1976-77. Only last week, a public servant was told unofficially (although he was told by an authority on this transfer) that in fact he need not bother about shifting until 1980. Therefore, there is at least a three years to four years discrepancy between that statement and what the Minister has said. Having been at the site last week, I can say that it is apparent that the 1976-77 target will not be met.

In reply, the Minister, Mr Hopgood, said:

A committee has been set up by the Government to liaise with the public servants concerned and to maintain close consultation with them. The people affected will know the date before the honourable member knows it.

So it is quite clear from what was said by the Minister in charge of Monarto that there will be close liaison between the Government and the South Australian public servants in connection with their transfer to Monarto when it is required. This is contrary to what Senator Hall said in this House tonight. He said that these people would be conscripted to go to Monarto.

Of course, if Senator Hall had still been the Premier of South Australia and had been the innovator of Monarto it would have been one of the greatest projects that this country had ever heard of. But he is unable to cope with the present Premier. If one looks at Hansard one will see that on every occasion when the opportunity has been afforded to him Senator Hall has tried to denigrate the Premier of South Australia. South Australians know well that if it had not been for the double dissolution of the Parliament Senator Hall would have been back on his farm because he had to resign from his seat to contest the Senate election. It was only the double dissolution that saved him. Be that as it may, he is here. We accept him as an elected representative of the people of South Australia but I am a little disturbed that he, as a representative of the people of South Australia, should come into this chamber and use these two housing Bills we are debating tonight as a vehicle by which to denigrate the Premier of South Australia. When he had to meet the Premier face to face on the floor of the House at North Terrace Senator Hall came out second best on every occasion.

I hope that as years go by Senator Hall will have the courage to be the man he says he is. When Monarto has been proved to be the great project that we envisage it will be I hope that he will stand up and say that he was wrong. A lot of people consider that Senator Hall is a man of steel. Of course, that is why he has insisted that, although Steele is a Christian name, he be known as Senator Steele Hall. I hope that he will be prepared to stand up and prove that he is a man of steel and that he will admit he is wrong. He and Senator Webster have tried to delay the passage of these Bills tonight at a time when finance is sorely needed in the States so that they can proceed with their housing programs. I think that Senator Hall and Senator Webster have misused their powers as representatives of the States in this Senate.

Senator Websteradmitted here tonight that he has a vested interest in the building industry. He said that he is in the building industry himself as a businessman. He has criticised this Government because there may have been some small downturn in the construction of houses in this great Commonwealth. But Senator Webster did not go on to tell the people that this was set in train before the Labor Party became the Government and that he supported a policy of the previous Government of allowing the developers to go in and buy up all the land that was possible and so make land too dear for the average working man to afford. (Quorum formed).

Mr President,before I continue my remarks on the 2 Bills I want to say that when Senator Cotton drew the attention of the Acting Deputy President to the state of the House there were 4 Liberal senators in the chamber, no Country Party senators, no independent senator and no Liberal Movement senator, but there were 10 Government senators present attending to the Bills being debated.

Senator Poyser - Including the person in the Chair.

Senator McLAREN - Yes, including the person in the Chair. At least it shows that 3 Government senators to every one Opposition senator are vitally interested in the passage of these Bills. Members of the Liberal Party, Country Party, Liberal Movement and independent senators are not interested. That reinforces the statement that I made earlier tonight, that they are deliberately not interested and they are trying to delay the passage of these Bills to hold up the payment of the moneys to the States, thus preventing the States from providing the urgently needed assistance to the housing industry in this country. When I was interrupted by Senator Cotton calling for a quorum I was saying that this Government is suffering from the result of a policy which we inherited from the previous Government when through a lack of supervision that Government allowed developers to run riot and to buy up land, and then hold the working people to ransom by making them pay through the nose for a block of land before they could even think about building a house on it. Senator Webster now uses that to try to beat this Government about the head and say that it is our fault. It is not our fault at all. I think that those people who are so desperately in need of land would be well aware of the situation when these facts are put before them. It is not my intention to delay the Senate any longer because it is most important that these Bills are passed and that the money becomes available to the various States so that they can carry on their building programs.

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