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20 November 1981. Thought for the Week: "A people which no longer remembers has lost its history and its soul."
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in "The West's betrayal of Civilisation".
HOWARD REMOTE FROM REALITY
Federal Treasurer John Howard's bland claim that he does not know of one case of people forced to walk away from their homes because of his Shylock like interest rates, is a classic demonstration of what the rarefied air of Canberra can do to Government Ministers. Mr. Howard may honestly be out of touch with reality. But for a relatively young man who appeared before entering politics to be destined to be another mediocre solicitor, Mr. Howard has done quite nicely, financially. And the prospects for the future look rosy, with little prospect of Mr. Howard being forced to sell either his Sydney or Canberra home because of difficulty with mortgage payments.
One estimate of how the present scandalous superannuation scheme assists the retired or defeated politician shows that if Mr. Howard can survive a few more years, he could finish obtaining $11 million. We are aware that this amazing figure has been doubted, but as far as we know, Mr. Howard has never attempted to dispute it. But with even a fraction of that type of money, Mr. Howard may be a little detached from the realities of life as they affect all those Australians battling to maintain their mortgage payments.
We are not keen admirers of Victoria's
Minister for Housing, Mr. Jeff Kennett, who has said some
silly and dangerous things about immigration, but he has demonstrated
how far from realities Mr. Howard is on the housing question.
Mr. Kennett certainly hit Canberra in a very tender spot when
he took full-page advertisements in the Melbourne daily press
to write a blistering Open Letter to Prime Minister Fraser.
Mr. Kennett laid it on the Line: Hundreds of Victorian families
are walking away from or selling their homes because of the
Fraser Government's high interest rates.
Mr. Kennett came back with some hard
facts. He described his meeting with the Boronia (Victoria)
family who were forced to sell their furniture to meet high
interest rates on their mortgage. The family will probably
have to sell out in a few weeks. We are aware of a number
of cases of people being forced to sell their homes at greatly
reduced prices because they cannot keep up interest payments.
Large numbers of others are holding on by cutting down on
Australia as a nation is physically capable of housing all Australian families. The building industry, making use of modern technology, is more efficient than ever. What is physically possible, and socially and morally desirable, should be made financially possible. Credit for housing could be made available at a fraction of those now being imposed, probably as low as 2 percent. This suggestion is, of course, anathema to Mr. John Howard and his bureaucratic "advisers". A Treasurer who has had to admit under pressure that it is going to cost the book publishing business much more to collect the proposed Sales Tax on books than the tax itself, is not only anti-social; he is too dangerous to be allowed to continue as Treasurer. A massive revolt against his Sales Tax legislation could assist him on his way.
LEFT WING IDEOLOGUES HOWLING FOR SENATE 'REFORM'
"The Federal Government will do no service to Australian democracy and parliamentary government if it rejects out of hand the proposals for constitutional reform which the A.L.P. has presented this week to the Senate." - The Australian, November 13th.
What the above really means, scraping away the journalistic humbug, is that The Australian (meaning the person, or persons, who control The Australian) thinks that the Australian Senate should be "reformed". By "reformed", read vitiated, weakened, attenuated.
The long Editorial of above date highlights the events of Remembrance Day, 1975, exaggerates the political controversy which followed, in our opinion; and strongly advocates what was stated above, viz. Senate "reform". The Editorial plugs the undesirability of citizens being in the dark on important matters of governmental procedure; e.g., "The very fact that an elected prime minister Mr. Whitlam could be ejected from office for reasons that were far from clear to most electors, is enough in itself to arouse concern. It is essential for a democracy that the average interested citizen should know how the system works. If people cannot understand the rules of the game it is not to be wondered at if some of them wish to abandon the game altogether and try to attain their political goals by other, unconstitutional means." (end of quote).
Now, how about this? We do not consider, at all, that Mr. Whitlam's ejection from office was misunderstood by most electors. We are confident, in our judgment, that Australians were alarmed by the political excesses of the Whitlam Cabal, and couldn't get them out quickly enough. This is dealt with quite proficiently in the book -"The Witless Men" by competent political commentator and journalist Don Whitington (Price: $3.50 posted from G.P.O. Box 1052J, Melbourne).
Furthermore, we consider the writer(s) of the above Editorial in The Australian to be guilty, wittingly or unwittingly, of arrogance. The man and woman in the street are not fools, and they don't have to be patronised by editorialists and political commentators. We agree that it is desirable for electors to have a proper understanding of the "rules of the game", and if some people do not, then the correct remedy is not to alter the "rules of the game" to the detriment of good government (our opinion) but to ensure that those uninformed people do understand the rules of the game.
For example, in earlier times this century in Australia, pupils at school were required to have a grasp of CIVICS; the principles of government, role of government, machinery of government, etc., etc. The sooner that CIVICS is retaught in Australian schools, the better - in our view. They were phased out some fifty years ago.
We mention "Left Wing Ideologues" in the heading above, and have in mind those members of parliamentary A.L.P. who are always railing against the Senate, and who strongly support the Bill newly introduced by Senator Gareth Evans, to provide for a referendum for the alteration of the powers of the Senate.
We have had quite a deal to say about fixed parliamentary terms, and 4-year terms in these pages in recent months, and we won't go over those again. What has taken our notice is an article in "The Canberra Times" sent to us by a Canberra actionist. Mr. Bill Hayden, Leader of the Opposition, herein really sounds off against the Senate. We consider that Mr. Hayden has got it all wrong! He says: "Stability will continue to be threatened so long as the rules as contained in the Constitution allow the Senate to have equal authority with the House of Representatives: the people's House...."
The whole idea of the Westminister system of government, thrashed out over many bloody centuries, is to divide and balance political power. Under this system the power is divided three ways, Crown, Upper House, Lower House. The Upper House (Senate) is every bit as much the people's House as the House of Representatives (Lower House). All legislation must have the Royal Assent before it is enacted into Law: another "brake" on legislation. When Mr. Hayden states that "the Government had reduced itself to a 'pathetic rabble' aggravated by its failure to control the Senate", he misses the bus. It is not the function of the Government to "control" the Senate. The Senate is elected by the people to put a brake on legislation passed in the Lower House. It particularly guards the interests of the States (also disliked by the Left Wing ideologues) but Senators are elected by the people, to do a particular job, and the Senate is doing this job pretty well, really.
Politicians - and particularly ideological ones like Senator Evans and Mr. Hayden, become victims of their ideology, so seeing the Upper House as some sort of barrier to the rapid implementation of their pet political convictions. The Senate is there to stop such ideological convictions from being rushed into legislation - and then into law. If the Constitution is also in the way, then the Constitution must be altered; even scrapped. The ideology becomes the Reality.
We do not agree with Mr. Hayden with his comment: "When the two Houses of Parliament have equal authority, grave instability is the inevitable and logical result. We saw this in 1975, and we're seeing it now." We are also sure that Mr. Fraser and his colleagues would differ: they consider that their Government is very stable. We know that the Socialists want the Senate out of the way so that socialistic legislation can be rammed quickly through Parliament into Law.
Banks, Interest, and Jobs
The following excellent letter appeared
in the "Wimmera Mail-Times" (Vic.) recently:
1). It is generally agreed that the high and increasing interest rates are the main problem: there is no shortage of materials or labour. Every year the banks make 'record' profits; in fact, on 10.8.81 The Age reported that the A.N.Z. Banking Group and the Bank of New South Wales are among the five most profitable banks in the world. Why is the Government more concerned about keeping these profit levels rising than they are of the living standards of the people? Their present attitude is electorally suicidal and nourishes the seeds of revolution already evident in this country.
2). The proposed sales tax on building materials and other necessities will only aggravate this already serious problem.
3). If the building industry were to be stimulated by a DECREASE in interest rates on housing loans, there would be INCREASED employment also for electricians, plumbers, painters, tilers, bricklayers, appliance manufacturers, carpet firms, furnishing trades, hardware stores, insurance companies, etc.
4). With employment generated by this means, the Government would receive MORE income tax revenue and pay LESS in unemployment benefits. Even the banks would gain by the business thus generated.
5). All employers of labour feel deeply concerned for the young people seeking apprenticeships in vain. It is a devastating experience to have to turn away applicants who genuinely want to learn a particular trade! The future shortage of skilled labour will also be devastating f or our nation.
6). The moral aspects of young people being unable to purchase their own home on reasonable terms have far reaching consequences. "When mothers are FORCED into employment to enable the family to keep their home, it frequently causes marital disharmony, health problems, and juvenile delinquency, all of which add millions of dollars to the welfare requirements, plus the cost of crime and its prevention, "Once the family units disintegrate, the moral fibre of our nation declines accordingly. Many young married women WANT to leave work and start a family, but find it financially impossible. Many would like to buy a home of their own, but now find the prospect of an unpredictable bank commitment too daunting to contemplate. "Meanwhile, we spend millions of dollars importing people to fill our country and spend millions more on dubious schemes, labelled 'foreign aid'.
7). In the Wimmera Mail-Times of Oct. 21st, we read that the Employment and Training Ministry has approved a $15,000 grant to help increase Wimmera job opportunities. This will cover the wages, travelling expenses, and office requirements of a part-time project co-ordinator, but what else will it achieve? People want permanent, secure employment, and we have to treat CAUSES, not just the effects.
In conclusion, I would like to quote
Sir Winston Churchill, who said in 1951: 'Good housing is
the first of the social services, and bad housing makes more
disease than the best health service can cure "Let us also
remember that thousands of wonderful young Australians gave
their lives in order that we might have the basic rights of
a sound democratic society. Did they die in vain?"
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