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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1967

Senator COATES —I ask the Leader of the Government whether he has seen the article in today's Mercury headed 'ALP misusing funds: Gray' which reads:

Another hitch in South-West dam compensation saga.

In this article the Premier of Tasmania accuses the Federal Government of using dam compensation money to fulfil election promises. This follows the letter of the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, this week suggesting certain projects to use the remaining $9m of dam compensation money. Will the Minister ensure that Mr Gray's misrepresentation is corrected and that he is reminded that none of the five proposals was, or is, part of the Government's election commitments, and that all are additional projects which would not otherwise be commenced but which would be of great benefit to Tasmania? Will he also remind Mr Gray that, under the dam compensation arrangements, both the State and the Commonwealth can propose projects and those suggestions are then subject to reasonable negotiation as to which are finally agreed to?

Senator BUTTON —The question contains some requests for detail which I do not have, but let me say that Mr Gray's allegations are not surprising in the current climate. It is only a matter of weeks since Mr Gray expressed himself as being quite satisfied with the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the Tasmanian Government. If, as a result of a letter from the Prime Minister, he finds some new cause for complaint, we will certainly have it investigated and I will provide a detailed answer to the honourable senator as soon as possible.