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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 66

Mr HODGMAN(10.19) —I desire to take the first opportunity available to any Tasmanian member of the Federal Parliament to register on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal Party representing our State in the Senate and the House of Representatives the strongest possible protest at the disgraceful treatment of Tasmania by the Hawke socialist Government in the incredible Budget which has been brought down this evening. It is a matter of public record that prior to the Federal election on 5 March this year the then Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), made a clear commitment to the people of Tasmania that if the Gordon below Franklin power development scheme was brought to a halt his Government would guarantee that Tasmania would be compensated for the cost of the generation of electricity over and above the cost which would have been incurred by hydro development. Secondly, he guaranteed that no person would lose his job.

I remind the House that prior to the election the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser, on behalf of the then Federal Government, made an offer to Tasmania of the sum of $500m as compensation for our State. Mr Hawke won the election. In my humble opinion he won it on promises which he well knew at that time could not be honoured. As we have found out tonight in the Budget, those promises have been blatantly dishonoured. Let me refer to just two of them. There was a clear commitment by the leader of the socialists in Australia, the Prime Minister, that there would be immediate tax cuts for 96 per cent of the Australian work force-a promise which has been dishonoured. There was a second promise that 500,000 extra jobs would be created for Australians-a promise which again has been dishonoured.

I come back to Tasmania. The Hawke socialist Government brought an action against the smallest State of the Commonwealth in the highest court of the land. It brought an action against Tasmania and, in the ultimate, it succeeded. As soon as that action had been concluded the Prime Minister said: 'Don't worry, we will compensate you'. First he sent Senator Walsh to negotiate with the people of Tasmania on behalf of the Hawke Government. The behaviour of Senator Walsh was such that I could not comment upon it without breaching Standing Orders. It came as no surprise to anybody that Senator Walsh was sacked. The next thing we heard the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen) was to be the negotiator, and the Deputy Prime Minister is, indeed, an honourable man. But what has happened is that at every possible opportunity in negotiations with Tasmania the Hawke socialist Government has reneged and tried to wriggle out and dishonour its commitment.

Mr Speaker, let me quickly give some examples. First and foremost, the southern outlet was approved as an alternative works program for the men and equipment employed on the Gordon below Franklin scheme. Having agreed to that, the Hawke Government then reneged. Crotty Road was approved as an alternative works program. Having approved that program, the Hawke Government then reneged. As of yesterday the highest amount that this magnanimous socialist Government had offered the people of Tasmania was a miserable, paltry $5m. What do we find in the Budget tonight? We find compensation for Tasmania of $30m. Shame on the Government! On a clear mathematical calculation of what is involved the Premier of Tasmania has estimated-I support him-that the proper compensation the Government should pay for what it has done to our State is $3,500m, that being the difference in cost for 60 years between hydro generated power and the thermal or nuclear power generation which the Government is now going to force on our State.

What has the Government done in relation to freight equalisation? Last year the Fraser Government budgeted $32m for freight equalisation, and $27,252,000 was spent. What has this great, generous Hawke Government, which is committed to more employment, done? It has cut the guts out of Tasmania. It has cut expenditure on freight equalisation to $23m. It will send industries into bankruptcy. It will put thousands out of work. This is the Government which has already put an additional 3,000 Tasmanians out of work.

In 17 year in politics, both State and Federal, I have never found a government which, so soon after its election to power, has broken so many promises. It ought to be in the Guiness Book of Records. The Prime Minister has broken more promises in seven weeks than Malcolm Fraser broke in seven years. This Government and its treatment of Tasmania are to be condemned. It should not think that because it will not win a seat in Tasmania for two decades other States will not take notice of the way it behaves. This Government's performance is disgraceful. Its behaviour is scandalous. It stands condemned in the eyes of all decent and fair-minded Australians. Honourable members opposite should be ashamed of themselves. Tasmania will never forget them for what they have done to the smallest but finest State in the nation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.