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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 798


Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek to make a personal explanation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr SINCLAIR —Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. This afternoon in the New South Wales Parliament that aging machiavellian figure, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, slipping as he is into the depths of political oblivion, made four misrepresentations with respect to the Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Anthony) and me. First, he said, on the manner of taking decisions by the coalition Government, that there was an arrangement between my Leader and me with the then Treasurer and the then Prime Minister to get backing for the financing of the Split Rock Dam in the Namoi Valley, adjacent to Manilla in northern New South Wales. While I know that in New South Wales it has been a practice for those who are exercising political power to exercise that power in their relationship with individuals, as has been so aptly demonstrated by the efforts of the Leader of the Labor Party-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The right honourable member is required to show where he has been misrepresented.


Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Deputy Speaker, I have just done so. I related what I understand was his statement this afternoon, that my Leader and I went to the then Treasurer and the then Prime Minister to get backing to finance the Split Rock Dam in the Namoi Valley. That is not the way decisions were taken by the coalition Government. Each of the decisions with respect to the funding of the dam was taken in full Cabinet and in a proper way, unlike decisions with the police and the magistracy in New South Wales.

In the second misrepresentation it was suggested that I was personally behind the Federal Government's 'bungle on Split Rock Dam finances'. I think the picture needs to be set straight. The coalition Government provided $500,000 on a dollar for dollar basis with the State in 1980-81 and offered New South Wales $1.5m for 1981-82. The State accepted the offer of assistance but claimed only $ 250,000, leaving a shortfall of $1.25m. An offer of $1m from the Commonwealth for 1982-83 under the NWRP was not accepted. An offer made by the then Minister for National Development and Energy, Senator Sir John Carrick, to the New South Wales Government and discussed by him with the then recently appointed New South Wales Minister for Water Resources, Mr Paul Whelan, on 7 February 1983 was to fully fund the Split Rock Dam to the then assessed cost of about $43m, on the figures that had been provided to the Commonwealth by the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. Contrary to the allegation about the bungle the facts are that the New South Wales Government refused the offer from the Commonwealth. In the misrepresentation, the Premier of New South Wales alleged that my Leader and I reneged on the Commonwealth's offer. Mr Deputy Speaker, the point is that it was the New South Wales Government that rejected the offer; the Commonwealth did not reject the proposition put to it. The fourth misrepresentation was that, according to the Premier, the funds were given by the coalition Government to fund the Burdekin Dam. I am sure the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) would be delighted to know of our initiative in that respect. I am also sure that the people of north Queensland would be equally delighted to know that it was the result of worthwhile discussions between Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, and the coalition Government that identified--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The right honourable member is required to confine his remarks to the misrepresentation he alleges has occurred.


Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Deputy Speaker, the misrepresentation is that it has been alleged that these funds have gone to fund the Burdekin Dam. They did not go to fund the Burdekin Dam and Mr Wran well knows it. Mr Bjelke-Petersen entered into discussions with the coalition Government. As a result it was agreed that the Burdekin Dam would be included as one of the propositions within the coalition's $640m water resources development initiative. The Queensland Government accepted the proposition and funds are provided for that in this Budget. The New South Wales Government rejected our offer to fund the Split Rock Dam and no funds have been provided in this Budget.

The fifth misrepresentation is a suggestion that there was a great betrayal of the country people by my Leader and me. Contrary to that assertion, it is Mr Wran who has betrayed them. It is Mr Wran who refused to purchase the land of settlers who were sadly affected because of the proclamation of land to be dammed.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The right honourable gentleman--


Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Deputy Speaker, these are the misrepresentations--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the right honourable member to come to order. I remind him that he has no prerogative to make any accusation. He simply has a right to speak of the misrepresentation he alleges has occurred.


Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Deputy Speaker, I point our that I am responding directly to allegations made in the New South Wales Parliament about me and my involvement in having funds spent in a way other than that which was provided for in our Budget. The point is that the funds for New South Wales for the Split Rock Dam, provided under the program, were rejected by the New South Wales Government. I reject as totally false the allegations made by Mr Wran.