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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2074

Mr McVEIGH(10.08) —Mr Speaker, this House has been treated to a massive stream of distortion by the Australian Labor Party and particularly the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Wells) on the question of Commonwealth funding for Queensland and how it has been used by the Queensland Government. The Labor Party has been engaging in an orgy of political thuggery and blatant lying. The honourable member for Petrie has been absolutely desperate to get something on Queensland. He has failed miserably. He has, in recent weeks, placed a series of questions on the Notice Paper, trying to find out what Commonwealth moneys have been received, returned or refused by Queensland. Specifically, he has asked such details of the departments of Administrative Services, Defence Support, Science and Technology, Aboriginal Affairs, Veterans' Affairs, Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Home Affairs and Environment and Social Security. I am advised the only money refused by Queensland was $1.7m from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The reason Queensland did not accept that was that the terms attached to it were too restrictive. In all other cases the Queensland Government has basically accepted everything offered by the Commonwealth.

The honourable member for Petrie went on with some rubbish today about Queensland losing several million dollars under Medibank Private, but that was in 1974 or 1975 and is hardly relevant today. He has also been drivelling on about the fact that there is $5m of wages pause money that Queensland has not used. Let us look at the truth of this bit of sheer garbage. The true situation is that Queensland has used up 46 per cent of its wages pause allocation. By comparison, the Cain Labor Government in Victoria has used up a meagre 2 per cent. It will not even give the Leader of the Opposition one job in his electorate. Furthermore, Queensland has used more of its wages pause allocation than has any other State in the Commonwealth. So to try to claim that the Queensland Government is withholding $5m is totally irrelevant. It is a miserable attempt to distort the truth.

The Labor Party, and even the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) today, have been trying to make a great thing out of the fact that Queensland is refusing to co-operate in the community employment program. Again this is just not true. Queensland has been allocated $41.2m for this program. The Queensland Government established, as required and according to Commonwealth stipulation, a consultative committee to nominate projects to be financed with this money. The Commonwealth has finally to approve the make-up of that committee before the financial allocation is handed over. The truth is that the Commonwealth has not yet approved the committee. How can Queensland be accused of dragging its feet, of not spending the money, or of not co-operating in the program, when the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister, will not give the necessary approval? It is this Federal Labor Government that is holding things up. It apparently will not approve the Queensland Government's nomination for the Aboriginal representative on the committee.

Mr Wells —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Commonwealth has not approved the program because Queensland has twice as many public servants as every other State.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr McVEIGH —Queensland has nominated Mr Les Stewart from Cherbourg, but the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) apparently does not like this man. He will not approve him, so he will not approve the panel, and therefore the Queensland program cannot get under way. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to give us a full explanation of the situation, rather than leaving it to the little pony hack, the honourable member for Petrie, to throw abuse and innuendos all over this chamber. The honourable member for Petrie has told a host of other untruths. He claimed that public servants in Queensland have to be members of the National Party. That is untrue. The honourable member for Petrie stands utterly condemned for his conduct on these matters. I believe he is a disgrace to the Parliament and I suggest he is even a disgrace to the Labor Party.

Mr Wells —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I am not a Liberal Party hack, as the honourable member suggests.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I call the honourable member for Ballarat.