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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3244

Mr GROOM —I preface my question to the Prime Minister, which concerns north-west Tasmania, by reminding him of a statement he made at the Sydney Opera Theatre on 16 February 1983:

I am not in the business and the Labor Party is not in the business of making promises that cannot be fulfilled.

I ask: Before the election did the Prime Minister promise that a Labor government would upgrade the Wynyard Airport? Did the Prime Minister subsequently announce that this promise could not be fulfilled because of the size of the deficit? If that is so, why did the deficit not also prevent the Prime Minister announcing new spending initiatives in Queensland, the Northern Territory and overseas? If the Prime Minister still maintains that the deficit is the reason for this broken promise, will he now assure the House that the Wynyard Airport will be upgraded as soon as funds become available.

Mr HAWKE —The facts ought to be well known by this time, even to the honourable member for Braddon. Certain dates are relevant. The honourable member referred to 16 February. I ask him to remember 2 March, because on that day I had the foresight to enter a caveat, based upon the proposition that the people now on the opposite side of the House may not be telling the truth. I said then, on 2 March, here in this city at the National Press Club, that if we won the election , as everyone expected then that we would, and found on assuming government that they had not been telling the truth and we had inherited a worse fiscal situation than they had been telling the people of Australia existed, there would have to be a review of all that we had said. Fortunately, that was said on Wednesday, 2 March, prior to the election.

It is a matter of record that the cautionary note that I sounded on 2 March was well taken because in fact the people now sitting opposite had then, in their last days of power, lied to the tune of $3.6 billion. So the people of Australia have readily accepted from that time the fact that this Government had to review the undertakings that it had made. In the process of undertaking that review, the upgrading of the Wynyard Airport, to which the honourable member referred, was one of the items that had to be reviewed. I simply make the point that on all the evidence the people of Australia as a whole are registering their approval of the course of action that has been taken by this Government.