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County Liberal Party Annual Meeting, at Alice Springs

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In the past week for the first time in history the Federal Cabinet

met in the City of Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory.

The meeting gave Federal Ministers an opportunity to renew our

close association, personally and professionally, with members of

the Northern Territory Government. .

That we met in Darwin was in part a recognition of the manner

in which Paul Everingham and his CLP Ministers and Members have

responsibly approached self-government of the Territory since it

was granted in 1976.

Certainly this is a far cry from the backwardness of the days when

the Northern Territory held one non-voting seat only in the House

of Representatives, and that held by Labor, and there was only an

appointed Council functioning in the Territory.

Progress in the Territory exploded after the election of Sam Calder

in 1966. Sam and Daphne, both well-known and much respected,

secured Government representation in the Territory. As a member

of the National Country Party for many years, he made a worthwhile

contribution to your development.

Then came the election of Bernie Kilgariff as Senator for the

Northern Territory.

Bernie, well-known throughout the Territory and a native of

Alice Springs, and his wife Aileen, have contributed enormously

to the growth of the Party and the well-being of the Territory.

He continues to play an important role in ensuring national

recognition of the particular difficulties associated with

northern development and your difficulties with some laws

pertaining to aboriginals, not because of your objection to

aborigines but because of your concern for them.

After Sam's retirement at the last election, Grant Tambling

became your second CLP House of Representatives Member.

He and Sandy have fitted well into the Canberra team, yet I

know many of you regret that it is not possible for him to spend

more time here in the Territory with you.

His efforts to be everywhere are best represented by the fact that

they both took up residence here in Alice Springs over the past

few months so that they could meet and be associated with you

all from the Centre.

His electoral task, I believe, now requires him to spend considerable

time in Darwin where constant population changes make the politics

quite volatile.

If as a result you do not see as much of Grant in Alice as you

have in recent time, you should remember the absolute necessity

for him to win votes in the north.

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He has been participating in many Parliamentary and Party Committees.

This I believe essential for a new Member. .

In this way he has learned of the particular problems in ensuring

equality of opportunity around our continent.

When he is absent, you the members of the CLP, must ensure that

there continues to be through you an opportunity for adequate

representation of individuals1 concern by passing on any particular

problems to Grant or Bernie for consideration.

The progress of the Northern Territory achieved under Paul

Everingham and his Cabinet is a tribute to the Chief Minister

and each of his Ministers. _·

Under his leadership Darwin has grown significantly to be an even

larger city than it was before Cyclone Tracy. '

While I believe the Federal Government has positively recognised .

your financial needs, I know from your Chief Minister's response

to the Prime Minister at the dinner in Darwin last week of your '

continued concern for the future.

I should point out to him that apart from direct Commonwealth

contributions, there are many other significant areas of direct

Commonwealth expenditure. For example, in Defence alone $22 million

has been spent in the 1981/82 financial year in the Territory, and

it is expected that expenditure in 1982/83 will be in the vicinity

of $40 million.

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Inflation, high interest rates and domestic economic uncertainty

have not made the exercise of domestic responsibility always

an easy task.

The mining industry and the cattle industry, two of your major

industries, have suffered from declining world prices.

In the beef industry there have been particular problems associated

with completing the brucellosis and tuberculosis (BTB) campaign

in the Territory.

Some of these were identified for me last week by cattlemen

while Roger Steele, your very excellent Minister for Primary

Production and Tourism, set down a number of possible solutions.

These I will pass on to Peter Nixon as Federal Minister for

Primary Industry, and ask for his special consideration of them.

As Minister for Primary Industry when the BTB programme.was

first initiated, I believe it is important that the Territory

achieves disease-free status. . .

Yet your unfenced areas and the prevalence of buffalo and other

feral animals makes this difficult.

For the cattle industry, the goal is to achieve an international

clearance for our beef and cattle exports, to guarantee continued

access into the markets of the world.

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One other development of particular interest is the Northern

Territory Development Corporation.

Last week at a Party meeting of the new Branch at Batchelor-

Adelaide River hosted by the Branch President, Robert Light and

his wife, I was told of the significant success in this first

year of this fresh attempt at agriculture in the north.

This diversification is to be welcomed and will contribute

significantly to a wider rural base, providing fresh produce

for the cities of the Territory and generating another source

of export income. .

Over the past 16 months I have been responsible for communications

in Australia. '

Wearing that hat, I have been pleased to be able to announce

concessions for remote area telephone connections. These have

meant dramatic reductions for customers whose telephone services

are being converted to automatic working, and for new customers

seeking connection to automatic and manual telephone services.

The savings to rural subscribers, including those linked by radio

telephone, can be as high as $10,000 per subscriber where the

telephone line stretches 50 km or more to a new automatic exchange.

I was also able to ensure some extension of television throughout

the region, both through the INTELSAT satellite and translators.



Much more remains to be done in this area. However, there are

two new developments around the corner which will benefit you

greatly. .

First the radio digital concentrator, which is expected to

significantly improve radio telephone communications. This

system has been developed by Telecom and it. is expected it

will greatly improve the quality of transmission of telephone

and telex messages.

The second development is the domestic satellite, or AUSSAT.

It will provide broadcasting and television through the Homestead

and Community Broadcasting Service System (HACBSS), improve

remote area telephonic communications, facilitate School of the

Air, and generally improve communications throughout the north. .

One communication responsibility which I would have liked to

discharge before leaving the portfolio was the final Government

decision on the Dix Recommendations on changes to the ABC.

These are very well advanced and I believe will help to ensure

an adequate national broadcasting service meeting the needs of

the Territory.

In my new portfolio, I have an even greater involvement with you.

The new Darwin naval patrol boat base is shortly to be commissioned

Darwin Airport is to be significantly upgraded. The Chairman of

the Defence Force Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Neville McNamara,

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the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Bill Pritchett, and I as the new

Minister have just completed an examination of these and other

Defence facilities of the north.

The Northwest Mobile Force (NORFORCE) was established as an

Army Reserve Unit on 1st July, 1981. Its role is to conduct

surveillance and land reconnaissance of the Northern Territory

and the tropical part of Western Australia. ■

It has a somewhat higher component than most Reserve Units of

ARA members. At the moment it is developing the special skills

and knowledge necessary for it to operate effectively.

The Federal Government appreciates the concern members of the

CLP have about defence issues. After all, you are the one

region of Australia to have been subjected directly to enemy

attack. The Government shares your concern.

The proper exercise of our defence responsibility is in marked

contrast to the incredible announcement by Labor Premier Cain

of Victoria regarding visits of vessels from nuclear countries.

His statement puts at risk our continued association not only

with the United States, but with the United Kingdom, France and

many of our traditional allies.

In the words of Gough Whitlam: "Successive governments have

accepted that naval ships these days are quite likely to be

nuclear armed. It is impossible to expect the navies of other


countries to specify for public consumption which of their ships

are nuclear armed and which are not so that any country which is

host to those ships may require that only those which are non­

nuclear armed can come to the ports."

Incredibly the Labor Government of Victoria seems to be committing

itself to negating Australia's responsibilities under ANZUS on

the eve of the ANZUS discussions of 21st and 22nd June.

• This approach, of course, the Federal Government cannot accept.

It is the Federal Government's intention to ensure that in any

matters pertaining to the usage of Australian ports by overseas

defence vessels.

It will determine whether and where they should berth, subject

only to the necessary safeguards to ensure there is no risk for

n the local community.

Another matter that has generated some interest is the impact

of Sir James Killen's April statement on future defence spending.

Certainly I can assure you that there is no intention by the

Services to stop recruiting.

I have been advised that the Defence Forces will need to recruit

8,500 people over the next 12 months to replace normal wastage.

Officer training will continue to be available at the Navy, Army

and Air Force Colleges and at other officer training establishments,

while the Defence Force will be seeking to fill more than 700

apprenticeships over the next year.

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Excellent training will continue to be available not only in

the specialised electronic and mechanical skills essential to

a modern high-technology Defence Force but also in other skilled

and semi-skilled categories too numerous to mention.

It may be of interest in general to know that 40 percent of

enlistments in the three Services come from other than the main

urban communities in Australia.

Certainly I can assure you that I have a strong concern for

Australia's ability to defend its northern approaches.

To you all in the CLP, let me stress the advantage that I see

in the maintenance of your continued association federally with

both the Liberal and the National Country Parties. '

Your population base is still too small to afford the luxury of

the conservative parties to compete with each other.

Regrettably, in spite of policies which I believe are adverse

to progress, the Labor Party does enjoy support. We cannot be

complacent therefore about always maintaining the level of our


To campaign against each other would certainly be counter­

productive .

To your retiring President, Barry White and his wife Elizabeth,

I would like to say thank you for the job they have done in

ensuring a continuity of effective CLP organisational strength


throughtout the Territory. I wish his successor, all the best

for his term of office and would assure him of the continued

support of Doug Anthony and my colleagues in the National

Country Party.