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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2018

Mr REEVES —Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation .

Mr SPEAKER —Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr REEVES —I do.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member.

Mr REEVES —In last night's Northern Territory News appears a report of a statement made in the Legislative Assembly in Darwin yesterday by Mr Perron, the Deputy Leader of the Country Liberal Party Government in the Northern Territory. In part the report states:

Mr Perron was replying to a question by Mr Dennis Collins, Alice Springs, about a claim in Federal Parliament by Mr Reeves, that the Territory was over-funded.

'I am certainly aware of the damage done by Mr Reeves in bringing these claims' , Mr Perron said.

'Unfortunately, the Territory has only one Member in the House of Representatives so there is no balanced view put for the Territory. He will be doing more harm than benefit if he carries on the way he is, saying the whole of the Territory is run by a bunch of country hicks and Federal funds are being mis -managed and not accounted for. He is doing a disgraceful job.

On 12 October this year I spoke in this House on the Northern Territory Grant ( Special Assistance) Bill. In that debate, in referring to the fourth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission on special assistance for the Northern Territory, I said:

This report, however, makes it clear that the Territory population has special needs. The report puts to rest the nonsense that the Northern Territory is over- funded or is generously funded. I am happy to agree with the honourable member for Dawson on the question of statements about the Territory being generously funded; it is not.

It is clear from that statement that I did not claim that the Territory was over -funded. In fact, I said the exact opposite: I said that the Territory was not over-funded or generously funded. In the debate I made a clear distiction between the question of funding as it affects the people of the Northern Territory and the expenditure of money as it affects the policy of the Government of the Northern Territory. Mr Perron is reported as saying that I said that the whole of the Northern Territory is run by a bunch of country hicks . I did not make that statement in this House. I do not believe that the whole of the Territory is run by a bunch of country hicks. I believe the Territory Government is run by a bunch of Country Party hicks. Finally, Mr Perron is reported as saying that I am doing harm by suggesting that Federal funds are being mismanaged and not accounted for. I indicate that I will not be dissuaded from that view. I have raised with the Treasurer (Mr Keating) the apparent defficiencies in the Northern Territory Government's accounting system. The Treasurer has expressed his concern to me. I have received his assurance that the matter will be investigated.