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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 2134

Mr HODGMAN(10.26) —On 5 March 1983 I, along with millions of Australians, watched the television results of the Federal election which brought the Hawke socialist Government to power.

Mr Downer —A black day for Australia.

Mr HODGMAN —It was a black day for Australia as my colleague, the newly appointed shadow Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment-and I warmly congratulate him-points out. I remember the emotion of that night as I guess most Australians would. For the first time we saw Australia's second longest serving Prime Minister and a man of very firm and forthright character--

Mr Milton —In tears.

Mr HODGMAN —In tears. We saw, who was about to become Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) appear on television and we saw the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) pronounce that he would be a Prime Minister for all Australians. He sent a special message to the people of the State of Tasmania which, he noted, had once again returned five Liberal members for the five House of Representatives State seats. I remember what he said very clearly. He used words to this effect:

I want you to understand down in Tasmania that I will be just as much a Prime Minister for you as I will be for those other parts of Australia where my Party won more seats.

Mr Barry Jones —Hear, hear!

Mr HODGMAN —The Minister at the table nods his head. That is exactly what the Prime Minister said and, do you know, Madam Speaker, we actually believed him.

Mr Downer —You didn't!

Mr HODGMAN —Yes, we actually believed him. But what a sad state of affairs we see today. I wish to talk about fiscal matters and about deliberate discrimination against Australia's smallest State by the Hawke socialist Government for reasons which I am now convinced can only be described as political. The plain fact is that almost from day one this Prime Minister and this Government decided to declare war on the State of Tasmania. It was only a matter of a few weeks before planes from the Royal Australian Air Force, on the instruction of this Government, conducted spy flights over our State. It was only a matter of a few more weeks before this Hawke socialist Government took offensive action against Tasmania in the High Court of Australia and it was only a matter of a few months before it started to dismantle the financial structure of assistance to Tasmania which had been put in place by the Fraser Government.

We suffered injustice for decade after decade. The first Australian political leader to recognise what was being done to Tasmania was the Rt Hon. Billy Mackie Snedden and, to his great credit, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser when he became Prime Minister. He determined to adopt the Tasmanian package which Snedden, Peter Rae and others had prepared. For the first time in 75 years Tasmania started to get a fair go from Canberra. Honourable members should remember-and the Minister at the table knows this better than anyone else-that Tasmania, criticise it though he may, has the highest per capita export earning record in Australia. We leave every other State for dead. The figures are there. If New South Wales and Victoria had the same per capita export earnings this country would be going ahead by leaps and bounds. This Government not only does not reward endeavour, not only does not reward a State which works its guts out to earn export income, but it also proceeds to set about hacking away at the assistance which is the lifeblood of Tasmania.

The plain fact, Madam Speaker, is that you would be horrified to know that between May 1985 and August 1986 the Hawke socialist Go-vernment slashed $202.5m from Tasmania's funding. We know that even before we get to the doors of the Premiers Conference funding will be cut by an additional $30m. We know that the Prime Minister has met with the socialist Premiers and has ignored Tasmania, Queensland and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. My prediction is that before August we will see Tasmania robbed of in excess of $250m by the Hawke socialist Government. This is sheer political victimisation of the State which has the courage to stand for the Liberal cause, the State which, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard), is described as the jewel in the Liberal crown. The Government has not won a seat in Tasmania since 1975 and the way it is going it will not win a seat in Tasmania before the end of the century.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will sit down. His time has expired.