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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 144


Mr GROOM(10.35) —I represent the west coast and the north-west coast of Tasmania. I represent the workers of the west coast of Tasmania. I am very proud to be their representative. This is not a frivolous issue; this is a very deep human issue. The sad fact is that the Australian Labor Party, all honourable members opposite, and the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment ( Mr Cohen) who has just spoken, have been conned by the radicals in the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and have turned their backs on the ordinary, decent working people of Tasmania. Honorable members opposite can laugh all they want to and joke all they want to but that is the real fact of life. If they do not understand how the people of Tasmania feel about this issue then I suggest that they should go down there, talk to those people and find out what makes them tick, what is in their hearts and what this issue is all about.

I think it is disgraceful that the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in the 24 weeks since the election on 5 March has not had the courage and the guts-the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment used that word 'guts'-to go to Tasmania and to talk to the people. The reason the Minister was not prepared to go to that meeting at Queenstown organised by a lot of decent ALP supporters was that he did not have the guts to attend that meeting.


Mr Cohen —I was not asked, and you withdraw that.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The Minister will resume his seat. I ask the honorable member to use some restraint during the debate.


Mr GROOM —I apologise for those words but it is a very serious issue. I feel very deeply about it and that is why I am saying the things that I am saying. The Australian Labor Party and the Prime Minister in particular have made two mistakes. Firstly, they used the device of an international treaty to trample on States' rights and to ignore the wishes and the will of the people of Tasmania which have been expressed on a number of occasions. It is an interesting fact that in this House of the people, the House of Representatives, we have only five members from one of our original States and they are all on the Opposition benches. There is not one member of this House from Tasmania, an original State of the Federation, sitting on the Government side. There is a reason for that. The reason is that the people were not prepared to support the Labor Party's view in Tasmania. That message has not come through. We had that pitiful sight during the election campaign when Bob Hawke came down to Hobart.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honorourable gentleman knows that that is not the term to use when referring to the Prime Minister.


Mr GROOM —I am sorry, sir. When the Prime Minister came to Hobart he had morning tea and scones with Bob Brown.


Mr Goodluck —The Mad Hatter's tea party.


Mr GROOM —The Mad Hatter's tea party, as it was described by the media in Tasmania. This was published in all the Tasmanian papers. As far as the Tasmanian people were concerned at that time it was clear evidence that the Prime Minister-he was then the Leader of the Opposition-had been conned by this elite group, the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. That is a misnomer because it really is not a Tasmanian organisation. Most of its members live on the mainland . Democracy suffered a blow when the Australian Labor Party accepted the view of this elite pressure group supported by the Communist Party of Australia. Honourable members opposite can laugh about that. They should read the Vanguard. I have all the copies of the Vanguard in my office if honourable members opposite want to see them. They should read the Vanguard and see what it said about the conservation movement and the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. The Labor Party supported the feelings and the views of this elite pressure group which was able to manipulate feelings on the mainland by effectively using the media and by writing lots of letters. We have heard a lot about that. The Australian Labor Party slapped in the face the ordinary, decent people of Tasmania.

The second big mistake that has been made is that we are now offered what really amounts to trinkets and beads in an attempt by the Labor Party to buy off Tasmania. The Prime Minister said: 'We will fully compensate Tasmania. We will provide just compensation for all the loss suffered'. What have we got? So far not one cent has been spent in Tasmania, as the honourable member for Bass said. There has been no real compensatory element in any of the offers that have been made so far. The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment talked about the Zeehan to Strahan road. I do not know whether he has driven along that road. There is a road at the moment, of course. For many years that road has been under construction. Yet the Minister, with no local knowledge, says in the House today: 'We will finance the construction of the Zeehan-Strahan road'. That is the problem. He has not been there long enough and often enough to understand what this offer is all about. I can see what the Minister is going to do. He will try to soften up the people of Tasmania by wandering around the small centres, offering to pay for a sewerage scheme here, a bit of roadway there and something else somewhere else to try to persuade the Tasmanian people that he is very generous. The Prime Minister, who was a tropical Santa Claus in north Queensland, wants to do the same thing in Tasmania.

As the local member, I have suffered the loss of a great project-the dam in the South West. I will argue until the end of my days that, environmentally and economically, it was the best option, despite what the greenies say. The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment might finish up with a nuclear power station in Tasmania. Is that what he wants? I can tell him now that a feeling is developing among very many informed people in Tasmania that the best option now is to have a nuclear power station. Where will that be? Someone said it should be at Liffey.


Mr Goodluck —Where is that?


Mr GROOM —That is where Dr Bob Brown lives. If we look at the Budget we see that we are offered this token gesture of $30m.


Mr Goodluck —Peanuts.


Mr GROOM —It is peanuts. That is on the so-called credit side. But I ask honourable members to look at the debit side. The honourable member for Bass mentioned the Callaghan plan. Between $5m and $8m was to be spent on port development around Australia. This was promised by the previous Government and dishonoured by the Prime Minister and his Government. We have the sorry story of Wynyard Airport. The Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition, looked Mr Loane of the Burnie Marine Board right in the eye during the election campaign. Mr Loane said: 'Will the Wynyard Airport go ahead if you win office, Mr Hawke?' The Prime Minister looking him right in the eye, said: 'Do not worry about that. I can promise you that the Wynyard Airport will go ahead'.

We have heard all this baloney about the $9.6 billion. Anyone with any sense knew that there would be a budgetary problem this coming financial year. Everyone knew that. The Treasurer (Mr Keating) and the Prime Minister knew it. The Prime Minister should have realised, when he looked Mr Loane in the eye, that that was subject to the financial situation. Now he is trying to crawl out of his promises. He is not a man of honour. His word is not worth two bob because he has broken all these promises to the people of Tasmania. The end result, when we look at the freight equalisation scheme, is that we have lost $ 9m. I hope that is a typographical error in the Budget. The figure has been reduced from $32m in the previous year to $23m. The figures have changed round. I hope it is a typographical error because Tasmania cannot afford to lose that $ 9m.

We can look also at the $50m that was offered by the previous Government for the development of a great national park in the South West. Honourable members should have no doubt that there could have been a terrific compromise in the South West with an excellent environmentally clean dam-the best form of power we could have-and a magnificent, beautiful national park in the South West. The trouble is that this Government has not been prepared to compromise. It has been conned by the greenie element. The tragedy in politics is that, unless one is prepared to compromise in some way, one will finish up the big loser. I believe very sincerely that the biggest mistake the Prime Minister has made so far is that he was prepared to trample on the rights and feelings of ordinary, decent Tasmanians and to prefer the feelings of this extreme group. When one does that sort of thing eventually one will suffer.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.