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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3024


Mr HODGMAN (DENISON, TASMANIA) -I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister been informed that the Government's decision on devaluation has been universally praised in Tasmania by the Liberal Leader -


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable member for Wimmera, the honourable member for the Northern Territory and the honourable member for Melbourne are conducting some internecine warfare amongst themselves. I do not know whether it is interesting or not, but it will cease forthwith. I call the honourable member for Denison.


Mr HODGMAN -Has the Prime Minister been informed that the Government's decision on devaluation has been universally praised in Tasmania by the Liberal Leader, by the National Country Party, by responsible members of the trade union movement and, most significantly, by the Tasmanian Labor Premier, Mr Neilson, who described it as good news for Tasmania? Can it be confidently expected that the effect of the devaluation will be to reduce unemployment in Tasmania substantially and to boost greatly primary and rnining industries, manufacturing industry and the Tasmanian tourist industry? Is the Prime Minister aware of suggestions that this decision alone could be the means of providing additional jobs for more than 1000 Tasmanians?


Mr MALCOLM FRASER - This decision, coupled with other decisions which the Government made in relation to Tasmania, should be of enormous advantage to the State of Tasmania and to all industries in that State. The honourable gentleman will be aware that a few days ago the other half of the freight equalisation scheme for Tasmania was announced. That scheme is now operating both ways. The later announcement applied retrospectively to 1 July so that Australian industries would get the full benefit of the Government's commitment in this area. The decision in relation to devaluation will clearly be of great assistance to industries in Tasmania and in other States. It will be of great assistance to farmers in Tasmania who have been very hard hit, for a variety of reasons. I believe that our decisions would do very much more for employment in Tasmania than the famous and much heralded 24-point plan of the Labor Premier, Mr Neilson. I believe that our decisions will be of great advantage to the industries. I do not think the 24-point plan was going to do a great deal. If I could make one comment about one part of the 24-point plan to gain a benefit under a provision for a rebate of payroll tax one had first to sack a person and then to reappoint him. If one did that one would get the rebate from the State Government. It seemed a very odd way of going about business.

I hope that companies such as the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited, which has been in difficulty because of the price of copper, will review their decisions. It had become quite clear from conversations that the company had been prepared to carry through its programs in the expectation that the world price of copper would rise. It was prepared to run with a difficult circumstance in the intervening period. Now, with the increased prices that will accrue as a result of the decision to devalue, the company could be in a position equivalent to that which it had expected for the next several months and could still employ, I believe, a considerable number of those people whom it said it would retrench. The total position of the company financially would be the same as the company expected. Therefore, I believe the company has an obligation to review its position and its decision in relation to its employees especially since, as I well know, the company understands that it is in a remote area. It is not just a question of the company and the employees, it is a question of a community which is utterly dependent upon this operation.

Overall, I expect the decision to devalue to be of great advantage to Tasmania, as it will be of great advantage to the whole of Australia. I am delighted to know that responsible members of the trade union movement in Tasmania have heralded it as good news for Tasmania. While I can be thankful that Mr Neilson has also welcomed it as good news for Tasmania, I cannot altogether wish him well when his election day comes because I believe the State could be much better governed by a different administration.







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