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Wednesday, 22 August 1979
Page: 434

Mr HODGMAN (DENISON, TASMANIA) - In view of certain dire predictions circulating in Tasmania a few weeks ago, is the Prime Minister now free to confirm that each and every one of last night's Budget measures for Tasmania was decided and indeed locked up weeks before Mr Lowe called his recent phoney snap election?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) (Prime Minister) - I understand that there is a suggestion in Tasmania that Mr Lowe knew what a good Budget it would be and therefore was determined to have an election before the Budget came down.

Mr Young - I raise a point of order. Mr Lowe is not the only State Premier. I hope that the Prime Minister comes to South Australia between now and 15 September for the South Australian election.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide will resume his seat.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - All essential Budget decisions, including those so importantly affecting Tasmania, were taken and completed before I left for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Lusaka; in other words, before the Tasmanian election.

Mr SPEAKER -I draw the attention of the right honourable gentleman to the fact that whilst it is a matter of courtesy to speak to the person -

Mr Innes - He looks better that way, anyway.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Melbourne will remain silent. The right honourable gentleman is in fact turning away from the microphone and the sound is not being heard in the chamber.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. In that case I will repeat what I said. All essential Budget decisions were taken before I left for Lusaka, before the Tasmanian election took place. I must agree that there was a certain amount of frustration on the part of the Treasurer and myself who knew what the decisions were, but because the Tasmanian election was to precede the Budget, obviously we could not talk about them. The decisions announced relating to Tasmania during the Budget Speech last night are completely consistent with the policies of this Government which has done a great deal to assist that State, as indeed all States of the Commonwealth. I think it was Mr Batt in the Tasmanian Parliament who some time ago indicated a long list of new investment projects being undertaken in Tasmania- including the $30m Burnie paper mills expansion- which were taking place as a result of our policies and as a result of freight equalisation in particular. It is worth noting that these policies have a direct bearing on employment. If it were not for the introduction of freight equalisation in relation to Tasmania, employment would be very much lower in that State. Investment has taken place, industries have kept going and some industries have expanded as a result of freight equalisation and as a result of making markets available in other States. Without freight equalisation, this would not have been possible.

The same can be said of many of the Government's policies. The policies of this Government have given more attention to the State of Tasmania than ever before in the history of Federation. I am certain that it is understood that this has occurred substantially because of the energy and vigour of the Tasmanian members of Parliament in this House and in the Senate. I have no doubt that that attention to Tasmania will be reflected whenever the only poll that counts is ultimately undertaken.

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