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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2013

Mr RUDDOCK —I ask the Prime Minister whether he recalls, on 31 May 1977, as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, writing a letter in the following terms:

I have your letter of 6 May requesting my reaction to the proposed setting up of a gambling casino in Canberra. I believe this is a matter best decided by the majority of people living in the area, and that the views of the community should be ascertained before steps are taken to incorporate such a controversial establishment in the local scene.

I ask: Did the Prime Minister write such a letter? Is this still his view? If so , how does he intend that steps be taken to ascertain the views of the majority of people living in Canberra before proceeding with the development of a casino?

Mr HAWKE —The answer to the first part of the question is no, I do not recollect writing the letter. But I am sure that the honourable member would not concoct such a letter, so I am prepared to accept that I did write it. In the circumstances it seemed as though it was a very relevant letter. But times change.

Mr Porter —Put it in the category of all the promises.

Mr HAWKE —No. Let me make it clear that the economy and the social condition of the Australian Capital Territory in 1983 that we have inherited are far different from those of 1977. It is so as a result of the disastrous economic and social policies of the Government of which the honourable member was a part. This Government has to direct itself to the condition of the economy of this country and of this Territory with which it is confronted. It is the belief of the Government that in the Australian Capital Territory there is a need in the circumstances of today for economic action to be taken which will stimulate, not only in an immediate sense but also in a continuing sense, the greatest opportunities for employment to meet the disastrous unemployment situation we have inherited. In the circumstances of 1983 and of the future I believe that it is appropriate now that that course of action be followed.

Let me make a point which has not been made before in respect of the proposal for a casino. It is the intention of the Government that should this casino proceed, the share of revenue that would be coming to the Government would be used to assist those most in need in the Territory-those who depend for their welfare upon social welfare expenditures. Therefore, if one looks at the criteria which have been taken into account, that is, the creation of employment opportunities-particularly for unskilled, young females who are desperately in need of employment-in the conditions of 1983 and 1984, it is appropriate that that course of action be followed. In regard to those in the Australian Capital Territory most in need-those who depend upon social welfare expenditures-it is appropriate that as much be available to the Government as there possibly can be to alleviate the condition of those people.

Let me make it quite clear that I think that a hopeless person in public life is one who is not capable of change. This characteristic is consistent with the philosophy of the honourable member-if we can apply the word 'philosophy' to people such as the honourable member. It is not surprising to me that he is incapable of change. That is why the Opposition is sitting on the other side now in such depleted numbers. That is why it is not in government anywhere around the country on the mainland except in Queensland, and it will not be there after Saturday.

Mr Hodgman —Why do you continue to attack Tasmania?

Mr HAWKE —I said 'on the mainland'. It is because this Party and this Government are prepared to adopt and take through policies which are appropriate to the present and future needs of the people of this country that we have the overwhelming support we have.