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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1275

Senator BLACK —Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of media reports from Brisbane last Friday in which the Queensland Premier was quoted as saying that the Federal National and Liberal parties now had the ammunition to force an early Federal election over the Queensland power dispute and that such an election was needed urgently? Could the Minister comment on these assertions to assist the Queensland Premier, who seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that Federal election boundaries are gerrymandered in the same way as Queensland electoral boundaries and that the Federal coalition parties require only 38.9 per cent of the vote to regain the treasury bench?

Senator BUTTON —My attention was drawn to the comments made on this issue by the Premier of Queensland. I suppose it could be argued, looking at it from his narrow point of view, that the National and Liberal parties might have the ammunition, but looking across this chamber I say to honourable senators that they might have the ammunition but they do not have the troops. I certainly would not recommend such a move in any shape or form. It is only five months since the Premier of Queensland was saying on the hustings what a disgrace and what a waste of money it was that an early Federal election was being held, and that he was totally against it. As I recall, he enjoyed using some good rhetoric at the time. He said it was a waste of $20m of taxpayers' money to hold a Federal election long before it was due. He is now saying, in April of 1985, when it suits him, that it would be an excellent idea to have an election. This is part of the desperate attempt by the Queensland Premier--

Senator Chipp —Why do you waste time talking about the moron?

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the honourable senator to withdraw that statement.

Senator Chipp —I withdraw it, reluctantly, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the honourable senator to withdraw.

Senator Chipp —I withdraw it.

Senator BUTTON —I suppose I do waste time, to put it in Senator Chipp's terms, in talking about the moron but that is because I am incited to do so by other people of not much greater intellectual capacity.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I suggest that the Leader of the Government also be asked to withdraw the word 'moron'.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Leader of the Government to withdraw.

Senator BUTTON —I withdraw. I come back to Senator Black's question.

Senator Chaney —Tell them what percentage vote the Labor Party got in Queensland.

Senator BUTTON —I am asked by way of interjection what percentage vote the Australian Labor Party got in Queensland. Perhaps the honourable senator ought to have a look at the Liberal Party vote in Queensland as well. The point I was making was that there are very great inconsistencies between the Premier's statements of last year and those he is making now when he says he seeks an early election, as there are differences in his approach to this issue itself. Only a year ago he was urging truckies blocking Sydney to get on with it and he was encouraging them in every respect to blockade Sydney. Now, he says he is seeking a Federal election as a result of alleged bans placed on the State of Queensland.