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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 963

Senator DEVLIN —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Minister for Aviation aware of the extraordinary events that occurred in the Tasmanian Parliament yesterday, when the Gray Government moved a censure motion against the Prime Minister over the decision of the Federal Government not to fund upgrading of the Wynyard Airport beyond its original offer of $1.2m? Is the Minister aware that the motion lapsed because the Gray Government, the government which moved the motion, did not support it? In the light of these events, does the Minister believe that Mr Gray was serious in his desire to have the airport upgraded?

Senator GIETZELT —I am aware that some unusual events have taken place in the Tasmanian Parliament.

Senator Grimes —It is a very unusual parliament.

Senator GIETZELT —Yes, it is. One wonders exactly what is at the back of the Premier's actions in respect of the proposal that the Wynyard Airport be substantially upgraded. The Commonwealth Government offered to provide $1.2m towards the upgrading of the airport. An additional $6m would be required if the airport were to reach the standard required by the Tasmanian Government. In December 1984, the Prime Minister made an offer to the Tasmanian Premier that the Commonwealth would be prepared to fund the proposal jointly. However, at the end of January, the Premier, Mr Gray, had not responded to the Government's initiative. That amount was in addition to the $1.2m that had already been agreed to. As there was no response, the Federal Government reconsidered the problem, knowing the views of the people in that region of Tasmania, and decided that it would allow the Tasmanian Government to allocate for that purpose some of the funds it had received for the Gordon below Franklin Dam not going ahead. That overall allocation had been generally agreed in 1983.

I imagine that Mr Gray appreciates that the Australian Government's attitude to this matter has been fair and reasonable and that the problems associated with the upgrading of the Wynyard Airport fall squarely on the Tasmanian Government, which has not responded. There is a degree of inertia in that State. Whilst sections of the Government sought to censure the Prime Minister and the Federal Government on this matter, they considered the matter and found in all fairness that they could not support the censure motion. Of course, it lapsed accordingly. I assure Senator Devlin that in no way is the Commonwealth Government culpable in this area; the ball is in the court of Mr Gray.