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Wednesday, 6 May 1987
Page: 2744

Mr HODGMAN(7.23) —Today is a black day for Tasmania and for the Federation. Mr Deputy Speaker, you will no doubt recall that just one week ago I rose in my place in this chamber and expressed concern about the magnitude of cuts likely to be inflicted on Tasmania by the Hawke socialist Government at the forthcoming Premiers Conference on 25 May. In my wildest dreams I would not have been prepared to believe what this vicious Hawke socialist Government has in store for us. But today the secret is out. The Hawke-Keating axis is planning to cut funding to Tasmania by a massive $102m at the Premiers Conference on 25 May. That will involve a cut of at least $60m in capital works funding. Is there no limit to the financial cruelty and victimisation which the Hawke socialist Government is prepared to inflict on Australia's smallest State?

Mr Shack —There is no limit.

Mr HODGMAN —My colleague the honourable member for Tangney, who is shadow Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, says that there is no limit. Honourable members are shocked to note that this $102m cut follows a massive cut of $912m at last year's Premiers Conference and total cuts of $202.5m inflicted on Tasmania over the past 18 months by this wicked, cruel and vicious Hawke socialist Government. I have access to a State Treasury paper which has been prepared and which, as I have said, confirms that cuts will be in the order of $102m. I would like to give some of the details so that they are on the record in this Parliament and so that honourable members will know what I have said today and will see what happens at the Premiers Conference on 25 May. The fact is that about $14m is to be slashed from financial assistance grants, more than $60m from the capital works budget including Loan Council programs and the States' global borrowing authority which pays for the Hydro-Electric Commission, the Tasmanian Development Authority and Tascorps borrowings.

Mr Miles —Disgraceful.

Mr HODGMAN —I note the concern of my colleague. As the honourable member for Braddon says, it is disgraceful. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), the honourable member for Lyons (Mr Burr) and the honourable member for Bass (Mr Smith) would feel likewise. About $10m-and possibly more-are to be cut from specific purposes payments. A figure of $19m in general revenue assistance was flagged and forewarned by the Commonwealth last year. The plain fact is that, once again, the Hawke socialist Government is taking a stockwhip to Tasmania. Why? We all know the reason. It is politics. We know that last year it was openly stated at the Premiers Conference: `Forget about Tasmania as we do not hold any seats. The Australian Labor Party holds no seats in Tasmania'. This comment was made: `We won government in 1983 and held it in 1984 without Tasmania'. This Government, led by a man who promised to be a Prime Minister for all Australians, has cast Tasmania aside. It does not matter any more. But what about the workers of Tasmania? That $102m cut will put between 3,000 and 3,500 Tasmanians out of jobs and we will have the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in this House shedding crocodile tears and saying he did not mean to do it. Is there any limit to the vindictiveness, the cruelty and the downright discrimination against Tasmania imposed by this Hawke socialist Government? Let me conclude by quoting from today's Hobart Mercury newspaper. The editorial in that newspaper sums it up superbly. It states:

Tasmanians have every reason to be horrified at the news of what seems to be in store for the State at the Premiers Conference . . . it seems that as the State with the smallest economic base it will be penalised more harshly than its richer counterparts. If this is so, the Federal Government will have shown not only economic naivete, but political madness.

Mad this Government is, but dangerous it is also. I protest against the continued persecution of Tasmania by a wicked and vicious government which hates our State because we have had the sense to vote Liberal. We have done it at the last five Federal elections and the way we are going we will continue to do it for many years to come.