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Monday, 26 May 1997
Page: 3944

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON —I refer this afternoon to the sense of insecurity and fear that surrounds the Hunter region at the moment. The Prime Minister (Mr Howard) must show some courage and leadership when he meets the Newcastle steelworkers on Thursday. I have spent the weekend in the Newcastle region talking about jobs, and I am concerned about the Prime Minister's reaction to the visiting workers this week. Mr Howard should consider incentives for the steel industry and he should support a strong interventionist job creation program for the Hunter Valley.

The Prime Minister must show courage and leadership because, if he does not, extremist elements, who parade themselves under the banner One Nation, will make great use of it when they hold a meeting in Newcastle on the day after Mr Howard meets the Newcastle workers. Fear and insecurity about jobs and the future can play into the hands of shrill extremism. The Prime Minister can either act on Thursday to stop the spread of extremism or capitulate in the face of extremism by not coming up with brave and dramatic visions for supporting the people of Newcastle and the Hunter region in this current crisis.

Time after time the Prime Minister has been wrong footed when it comes to facing the challenge put before him by the One Nation extremists. Time after time he has shown cowardice when faced by the One Nation challenge. It is time for the Prime Minister to show leadership on the question of jobs and the sense of insecurity that hangs over the city of Newcastle and the Hunter region at the moment. It is not good enough to leave it to the market. Newcastle requires interventionist policies. (Time expired)