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Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3288

Mr HODGMAN(10.50) —It is my sad duty to inform the House that at 0945 hours today a Royal Australian Air Force Hawker Siddeley 748 was sighted flying at low level over the Lemonthyme forest area in north-western Tasmania. This is a very serious matter because I remind the House that just 48 hours ago this Government, which has been quite deceptive on this issue, was at pains to inform this House that any surveillance was being carried out by non-Royal Australian Air Force planes. I need not remind the House of the shame which befell all Australians and in particular all Tasmanians with the infamous spy flights episode back in 1983 when planes of the Royal Australian Air Force, piloted and crewed by men and women wearing the Queens' uniform, were directed by this Government to fly over Tasmania. They did this at low level in circumstances causing great concern and considerable fear in certain areas. The then Attorney-General, Senator Gareth Evans, QC, later said: `I did not expect them to go hot dogging'. This action had an enormous impact--

Mr Reith —He used the streaker's defence.

Mr HODGMAN —As the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Flinders, reminds me, of course, Senator Evans relied on the notorious streaker's defence. I call on the Government to deny that a Royal Australian Air Force Hawker Siddeley 748 was flying over Tasmanian forest areas at 0945 hours today. My colleague the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), who is present in the House, joins with me in calling upon the Government to deny that the said Royal Australian Air Force Hawker Siddeley 748 was equipped with photographic equipment and that the purpose of its flight was to take photographs of alleged forestry operations in north-western Tasmania. I repeat, because I want to impress it on those opposite who seem to think that this matter is one of hilarity, that the point that I am making is that it is an affront to a sovereign State of the Commonwealth of Australia that Royal Australian Air Force planes should be used and sent into action against Tasmania. I have to say that it makes a nonsense of the claims in the House yesterday that only civilian aircraft were being utilised.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you served with distinction in the Royal Australian Air Force. I believe that every man and woman wearing the Queen's uniform in the Royal Australian Air Force will today feel shame if the fact is that, contrary to what the Parliament and the people have been told, an RAAF Hawker Siddeley 748 has been sent into action. My colleague the honourable member from Braddon (Mr Miles) is also present in the chamber. The plain fact is that Tasmania is an original State. The Constitution provides that we are one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth and yet these people treat Tasmania, with absolute impunity, as enemy territory.

I have spoken with a Minister of the Crown in Tasmania, a former member of this House, who is also gravely concerned about this. I asked him whether there was any additional information and he said that the only additional information was that some malfunction may have occurred and the plane may have been forced to land at Wynyard Airport. I say to this Government which engages in deception and duplicity: Be careful before you deny this one because it may be that the records at Wynyard Airport will confirm this spy flight into what the Hawke socialist Government regards as enemy territory but which in fact is Australia's smallest but proudest State. We will fight back. You can send in your Luftwaffe as much as you like. You can send in your blitzkrieg but you will never overcome the spirit of the people of Tasmania. On behalf of my colleagues I have to say to the Government: Do not take us lightly. You have trodden on us; you have trampled on us; but we will fight back and we will beat you.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.