Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1170

Mr GRIFFITHS —Is the Minister for Finance aware of claims made yesterday by the honourable member for Denison to the effect that the Commonwealth had not yet paid one cent to Tasmania following cessation of work on the Gordon below Franklin dam project? Will the Minister inform the House of the current situation?

Mr DAWKINS —I did notice the remarks of the honourable member for Denison. He has persistently accused this Government of dragging its feet in relation to paying compensation to the Tasmanian Government in relation to the Gordon below Franklin dam. As the Prime Minister indicated-and I can confirm it-a draft agreement was passed to the Tasmanian Premier by the Prime Minister on 31 August . The Premier indicated that, subject to final clearance of the draft with his legal advisers, he expected to sign the agreement in about two weeks. Payments to the State under that agreement will be made as soon as the Premier indicates his acceptance of it and signs it. No one would expect the-

Mr Burr —It is blackmail.

Mr DAWKINS —I know that members of the Opposition have very little regard for the proprieties of public finance but no one would expect this Government to make substantial and extraordinarily generous payments to any State without there being some formal agreement. That practice was carried on by our predecessors and it will certainly be carried on by us as well. However, that was not the only falsehood which was perpetrated yesterday by the honourable member for Denison. He made some absolutely outrageous allegations about the Prime Minister. Of course, the honourable member for Denison has not been punctilious either in relation to his personal conduct or ministerial propriety. Let me give a couple of instances of the conduct of the honourable member for Denison. It gives me no particular joy to go over the record of the honourable member for Denison but as he has raised this issue I believe it is my responsibility to respond and to disclose for the benefit of the Australian people some of the matters in which he has been involved. Just after the election was called all the Ministers in the former Government were written letters in terms of the conventions which apply in the circumstances of a caretaker government. The letter stated:

The first is the convention that the Government does not take new major decisions or make major appointments as from the time of the dissolution of the House of Representatives, i.e. from 4 February 1983.

What did the honourable member for Denison, who was then Minister for the Capital Territory, do in respect of a very important and major decision which was before him? On 16 February he directed his Department to make a formal offer to White Industries Limited in respect of concessions sought towards the cost of a convention centre in Canberra. That was done 12 days after the Parliament was dissolved and a mere 17 days before this Government was elected. I do not want to make any judgment about that convention centre but his successor, the Minister for Territories and Local Government, was forced, as a result of that conduct, to review the very legality of that contract and the obligations which bound the incoming Government as a result of it.

There have been other instances as well. The former Special Minister of State was able to reveal to the House that the motor vehicle bill of the honourable member for Denison, when he was a Minister, was something like $77,000 from July 1982 to March 1983. We all know that the Minister had substantial official obligations whilst he was in Canberra. We also know that a vast amount of that bill was chalked up in relation to across-the-border, nocturnal visits-or should I say assignations-by the then Minister.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I remind the Minister for Finance that allegations of improper conduct should be made by form of substantive motion. He is really getting into an area where, if he feels as he does, he should take that action or else desist.

Mr DAWKINS —The members of the Opposition have not been backward in making certain allegations about me. Certainly the honourable member for Denison has not been backward in making outrageous and untrue allegations about the Prime Minister. Therefore, Mr Speaker, if there is to be a common standard of rules I am perfectly happy to oblige you in relation to them.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! If the Minister is suggesting that I have been biased in applying the rules-

Mr DAWKINS —No, I am not. You were not in the chair.

Mr SPEAKER —I invite him to reflect on the fact that I apply those rules regardless of which side of the House seeks a ruling.

Mr DAWKINS —I am referring to the financial propriety of our predecessors. I am just indicating that there need to be explanations about how a Minister would chalk up a bill such as that.

Mr McVeigh —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 145:

An answer shall be relevant to the question.

Mr SPEAKER —There is no point of order.

Mr DAWKINS —As far as I am concerned, so long as his wife does not mind, I do not mind what he does in his spare time. The point is that the taxpayers of Australia should not be required to pick up the bill for the jaunts of the honourable member for Denison. There are plenty of other instances of the conduct of the honourable member for Denison. For instance, he is reported-as if there were not few enough Aboriginal people in Tasmania-as referring to those who are left in this way:

A bunch of natives who can be bought off with beads and trinkets.

These are the sorts of values which the honourable member for Denison is known to hold.

Mr Goodluck —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Will you quieten this gentleman?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Goodluck —Will you quieten him, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I warn the honourable member for Franklin.

Mr DAWKINS —I simply refer anyone who wants to judge the remarks I am making to the speech yesterday of the honourable member for Denison. Honourable members should simply judge that scurrilous accusation in terms of the condemnation out of the honourable member's own mouth. He said at a later stage that he was not totally opposed to the consumption of alcohol. That is an understatement. What we can say for the honourable member for Denison is that at least he has been prepared to confess. On 20 May 1981 he said to the Canberra Times:

I am a sinner but I have a basic commitment to Christianity.

Mr Macphee —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. You are respected by honourable members on both sides for your tolerance and reasonableness, but I do suggest with great respect that that tolerance has gone far beyond what is called for.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I have indicated to the Minister for Finance the bounds beyond which he may not go. So far he is skating very close to the border. I hope that he will round off his answer.

Mr DAWKINS —I will conclude, Mr Speaker. I am surprised at the honourable member for Balaclava, because I want to know from him whether he endorsed the sentiments of the honourable member for Denison in his outrageous attack on the Prime Minister yesterday.

Mr Macphee —I have never heard of that speech.

Mr DAWKINS —I will send the honourable member a copy. As I said, the honourable member for Denison has been prepared to confess his sins. He has also been prepared to indicate his commitment to Christianity. I remind him of the biblical injunction: 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone'.