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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2783


Mr ALDRED —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the recent letter from the Prime Minister to the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly strongly pushing the case for a casino in Canberra, the text of the letter having been published in the Canberra Times of 15 November. Why has the Prime Minister personally involved himself so heavily in promoting a casino and placed such extraordinary and unprecedented pressure on the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly members, most especially in view of the overwhelming case against casinos presented by the exhaustive Connor inquiry in Victoria earlier this year?


Mr HAWKE —I would like to preface my answer to the person who has just asked that question by inviting him to display a minimum of courage by repeating outside this House the contemptibly untrue statements he made under the privilege of this House earlier in its proceedings. I already know what the answer will be because the courage of this member is minuscule and matches his absolute lack of morality.


Mr Aldred —Who is pushing for the casino? Tell us about your discussions with Federal Hotels.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bruce has asked his question . I will not tolerate his interjecting while the answer is being given.


Mr HAWKE —Until such time as he exhibits that courage he will be treated by me and everyone else on this side of the House with the contempt that he so thoroughly deserves.


Mr Peacock —What references are you referring to? What do you want him to say outside the House?


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! I ask the Leader of the Opposition to cease interjecting.


Mr Peacock —I would like to know what he wants repeated outside the House.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —I ask the Leader of the Opposition to cease interjecting.


Mr HAWKE —In regard to the substance of the question about the support of this Government for the building of a casino--


Mr Aldred —Why are you so personally pushing it?


Mr HAWKE —I have made my challenge and I now come to the substance of the question.


Mr Peacock —Are they remarks relating to you or to other people?


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition has no right to interject incessantly. I require him to extend--


Mr Peacock —Mr Acting Speaker, I raise a point of order.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable gentleman will first resume his seat.


Mr Scholes —No one loves you, Andrew.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Chair needs no assistance from the Minister for Defence.


Mr Peacock —The point of order is that the Prime Minister has spoken in terms of contempt about my colleague on this side of the House. Is that in relation to allegations he has made against the Prime Minister? I would like to know. If it is, what are the allegations that he wants repeated outside the House?


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


Mr HAWKE —We have come to realise that there is almost no limit to the ignorance of the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr Peacock —Mr Acting Speaker, I raise a point of order. It is a simple point of order. The Prime Minister yesterday relied on the National Times to put forward certain views about attitudes to taxation that we were exploring.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —The honourable member will come to his point of order.


Mr Peacock —My friend behind me referred to matters that were in the National Times relating to this man. I want to know why he wants them repeated outside the House, because they have already been said outside the House.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! It is time that the Leader of the Opposition understood what a point of order means. He must know that that is not a relevant point of order, and I so rule.


Mr HAWKE —Let me be quite direct about the support which I and the Government have put forward for the incorporation of a casino into an international standard hotel convention centre and additional office accommodation in this Territory. The reasons are clear and straightforward. I assume that they are in line with the recommendation in 1981 of the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly which recommended that a casino be provided as part of a convention centre complex.


Mr Aldred —Tell us about your discussions with Federal Hotels.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bruce has been told for the last time to cease interjecting. I warn the honourable member for Bruce.


Mr HAWKE —I have no doubt that the reasons which activated the House of Assembly in 1981 are the same reasons which activate the Government and me in putting forward this proposal. They are simple, straightforward and compelling. As a result of the disastrous economic policies of the previous Government this country suffers, and this Territory suffers with the rest of the country, at this stage a significantly high level of unemployment.

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! A question has been asked by a member of the Opposition. I take it that honourable members are interested in hearing the answer. The House is asked to extend courtesy to the Prime Minister when answering this question.


Mr HAWKE —No section of the Australian people is suffering more from unemployment than young women. It is without question and beyond the possibility of argument that if a casino were established in the Australian Capital Territory it would provide, in its construction, employment for a considerable number of people and, in its operation, large levels of employment for people and particularly for young women who otherwise would not be able to get employment.


Mr Aldred —Read Connor and find out something about it.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! I have already warned one honourable member. I will be taking action if there are any more interrruptions from that source.


Mr HAWKE —At the outset of the discussions I had with the relevant Minister I indicated to him that it would be the intention of the Government that any revenue to this Government which became available as a result of the operation of the casino would be specifically earmarked to top up the payments for and provision of social security and welfare services for the underprivileged in the Australian Capital Territory. In other words, the only reasons why I support the building of a casino in the Australian Capital Territory are for employment purposes in relation to its construction and operation, and in terms of revenue for the allocation to the underprivileged in the Australian Capital Territory of funds that would not be otherwise available.


Mr Anthony —Why don't you let your Minister for Territories and Local Government deal with it?


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the National Party will cease interjecting.


Mr HAWKE —Those two entirely honourable reasons-the provision of employment and the provision of funds and facilities to the underprivileged in the Australian Capital Territory-are the only reasons why I support so strongly the building of this casino. It is an indication of the contemptible and despicable levels to which this Opposition has descended that it is not prepared to accept the integrity of my position and of this Government as to why we wish to proceed in this matter. It seeks--


Mr Anthony —Mr Wran.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the National Party will come to order.


Mr Sinclair —He is pretty right, though.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —And the Deputy Leader of the National Party will come to order. Both right honourable gentlemen are senior members of this Parliament and should set an example. I ask the House to come to order.


Mr HAWKE —I intend to take this matter to its conclusion. The reasons that I have given are the reasons which move me to feel strongly about this issue. They are the reasons which move the Cabinet to feel strongly about this issue. There are no other reasons. But I say this: What we have witnessed in this--

Mr Aldred interjecting-


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! I name the honourable member for Bruce.

Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) put:

That the honourable member for Bruce be suspended from the service of the House .