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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15544


Mr ZAHRA (12:44 PM) —The federal government have behaved in an appalling way towards the community in Korumburra. They have taken a decision to dispose of the Korumburra drill hall and some related property that they own in Korumburra. They have sold the residential property that they owned in Mine Road for $91,000. That was just one two-acre block which no-one in Korumburra particularly cared about. It was their land, and it was fair enough if they wanted to sell it because it was not appropriate for them to hang on to any more. The Korumburra drill hall is another kettle of fish altogether. The argument that the federal government have run out in relation to why they cannot give the Korumburra drill hall to the people of Korumburra is that, they say, it cannot be done by legislation. They maintain that it is impossible for it to be done. This is a complete untruth. This is completely untrue.

I have done some research in relation to this matter and, aside from the very public example of the Prime Minister giving some defence department land to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust—in his own electorate I would point out—there are two other examples which I have come across. The first is the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide where around $3 million of federal government money was used to purchase the defence department land and then for it to be handed over to the community. The second is the Fremantle artillery barracks where the federal government have agreed to transfer that land and that site to the Fremantle community for alternative uses. These are two examples of what the federal government say they cannot do for Korumburra. All I would say is that, if it is good enough for them to do it in Sydney, if it is good enough for them to do it in Adelaide and if it is good enough for them to do it in Fremantle, it should be good enough for them to do it for us in Korumburra.

The people of Korumburra have made a big contribution to the defence of our country over many years. There is a fair bit of evidence that supports the view that some years ago the shire of Korumburra, as it then was, actually granted the land in the first place to a fledgling Commonwealth government to be used for defence purposes. Those records are hard to get hold of nowadays because of council amalgamations and the like, but there is a fair bit of evidence which supports that view.

I would say to the federal government: act decently in relation to this. You have got precedent here to justify granting this land to the people of Korumburra. It is not a lot of money. It is estimated that the value of the land would be between $50,000 and $100,000. It is not a lot of money to the federal government, which have got a surplus of around $2,000 million; but to the people of Korumburra, it is a lot of money. The government should do the right thing.

The other issue that I wanted to talk briefly about today was the outrage in the community relating to the Howard government's broken promise on the Pakenham bypass. There has been massive community reaction to the Howard government's broken promise on this issue. I have received a huge response to a letter that I sent to the people of Pakenham in which I asked for their feedback on John Howard reneging on this promise. I have had a massive response and many hundreds of letters have come already in the first day or two. This is a sample of some of the things that people have said in their correspondence to me. From someone in Tynong North:

This is the fastest growing area in Victoria and deserves to receive the promised funding.

From someone in Pakenham:

Mr Howard, why not surprise us all and do something honourable—keep your promise and put up HALF the cost for the Pakenham Bypass before there are more needless accidents.

Again from someone in Pakenham:

Honour your Promises. We need to believe in our leaders.

From someone in Tynong North:

The Pakenham bypass is long overdue, it was promised by the Liberal Party not only in the 2001 elections but elections previous to that. 50/50 sounds more than fair to us, so we feel that the Howard Government should stop stalling and “Cough up”.

I think that those sentiments reflect the broad cross-section of opinion in the Pakenham community. There is a massive amount of anger in the Pakenham community about this issue. All that we are asking for in the Pakenham district is that John Howard and the Liberal Party honour the promise that they made to the people of Pakenham. It is not good enough that they think that they can say one thing before the election and when they are in government do something completely different. It is not a lot of money to the Howard government. They have got a surplus of around $2,000 million forecast for this coming financial year. But without that additional $21 million, which the Howard government have to put in, the project will likely stall and that means that there is a great risk of more deaths on that road. All we are asking is that the Howard government honour the promise they made to the people of Pakenham.