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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 215

Employment


Mr SNOWDON (Lingiari) (14:07): I remind the Prime Minister that before the last election he said in Arnhem Land:

Why shouldn't I, if you will permit me, spent my first week as Prime Minister, should that happen, on your country?

Given the devastating impact the closure of the alumina refinery will have on people in this community, including small business owners like Kelly Murray and her husband, who run a bait and tackle shop in Nhulunbuy, why hasn't the Prime Minister been to East Arnhem Land to outline his plan for new jobs for the community, who feel abandoned by your government?

The SPEAKER: Before I call the Prime Minister, that question was full of argument. Perhaps the member would like to rephrase it and in so doing make sure it is different from the question that has already been asked.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. The only issue that could possibly be taken as argument is quoting the Prime Minister's words back to him that he has just denied.

The SPEAKER: You did not listen attentively to the question. I did. I call the member for Lingiari.

Mr SNOWDON: With great respect, Madam Speaker, are you directing me not to say that Kelly Murray and her husband feel that the government has abandoned them?

The SPEAKER: It is not relevant to the question.

Mr SNOWDON: I will repeat the question. 'Why shouldn't I,' you said, Prime Minister, 'if you will permit me, spend my first week as Prime Minister, should that happen, on your country?' Given the devastating impact of the closure of the alumina refinery on the people of this community of Nhulunbuy and the surrounding region, why hasn't the Prime Minister been to East Arnhem Land to outline his plan for new jobs for the community, who feel abandoned by his government?

The SPEAKER: I will call the Prime Minister. I feel he has answered a lot of that question already but I would give him the call to do so.









Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:09): Let me inform the member that my first week in a remote community as Prime Minister will be in East Arnhem Land. My first week in a remote community as Prime Minister will be in East Arnhem Land, and I suggest that the member should quote the sentence or two that came before the sentence that he quoted to this parliament. For the benefit of members opposite, let me repeat: my first week in a remote community as Prime Minister will be in East Arnhem Land. I am looking forward to going. I am looking forward to meeting with the traditional owners and with other Indigenous leaders led by Galarrwuy Yunupingu. It will happen later in the year and I look forward to meeting while I am up there anyone who feels that the federal government can be doing more to help. What I intend to do is as far as is humanly possible be a Prime Minister for all Australians. I can understand why the people in Nhulunbuy are unhappy, why people involved in the Gove refinery are feeling disappointed. But I have spoken on a number of occasions with Rio Tinto about this and, as I said, the assurance I have had is that the Indigenous workers at the refinery will be offered new employment in the mine and that as far as is humanly possible every worker at the refinery will be offered redeployment within the Rio Tinto business.