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Tuesday, 12 May 1987
Page: 2967


Mr HOWARD —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I ask the Prime Minister to assure the Parliament and the people of Tasmania that his Government is not considering withholding $50m in funds from the Tasmanian Government because it would hurt the ordinary people of Tasmania whom he is supposed to represent.


Madam SPEAKER —I call the Prime Minister.


Mr HAWKE —Madam Speaker--


Mr HOWARD —Madam Speaker, I have not finished the question.


Madam SPEAKER —I am sorry.


Mr HOWARD —Perhaps I ought to start again. Will the Prime Minister assure the Parliament and the people of Tasmania that he is not considering withholding $50m in funds from the Tasmanian Government in the context of the current attitude of the Tasmanian Parliament regarding the replacement of Senator Grimes in the Senate?


Mr HAWKE —The strong, vigorous and even violent concern of the Leader of the Opposition for the interests of the people of Tasmania is touching. It is in stark contrast to the absence of his concern for the interests of the people of Tasmania which is involved in the refusal of the Premier of Tasmania, his Liberal Party colleague, to abide by the constitutional conventions and practices which, if adhered to, would ensure that they would have their interests properly represented in this Parliament. The strength and vehemence of his words in this respect contrast markedly with the feebleness of the way in which he has attempted to give support to the constitutional convention. As I had cause to say yesterday, the feebleness of this embattled Leader of the Opposition stands in stark contrast to the strong, vigorous and principled statement by the Leader of the National Party. At least on this issue the National Party and its leadership have shown strength and have shown principle. The answer to the question of the Leader of the Opposition is quite simple: I, as distinct from the Premier of Tasmania, will not play with the interests of the people of Tasmania and there is no substance or basis in the question addressed to me by the Leader of the Opposition.