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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 121

Mr HORNE —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister in mid-1997 allocate $10 million to the Hunter Advantage Fund to offset job losses from the proposed closure of the BHP Steelworks? Will the Prime Minister now confirm that, although $8.4 million has been allocated for a variety of projects, not one dollar has been spent and not one job created? Prime Minister, can you explain to the workers of the Hunter why you have not ensured that this money was spent to create jobs?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I am aware that after the announcement made by BHP in the middle of 1997 to phase down its operation in Newcastle there was a cross-party response from the New South Wales Labor government and the federal government, and a prime ministerial task force was established. I found ready cooperation from the union movement in the city of Newcastle as well as from the Chamber of Commerce. I will investigate what has been raised in the honourable member's question and I will come back to him.