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Tuesday, 13 September 1983
Page: 715

Mr HODGMAN(10.48) —It is now 75 days since 1 July this year, a fateful day in the history of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, when the High Court of Australia, as a result of the actions of the Hawke socialist Government by the narrowist possible majority, declared that the Gordon below Franklin power development scheme in Tasmania would not proceed. The people of Tasmania as they were duty bound, ceased construction thereupon of that major project. I speak tonight about what happened in the 75 days following 1 July.

It is a matter of shame and regret that notwithstanding the firmest and clearest commitments made by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on behalf of the Hawke socialist Government, that since 1 July when the High Court gave its judgment in this case and work thereupon stopped, not one cent in compensation has been paid to Tasmania, nor has the Hawke Government provided one job for the 377 Tasmanian workmen who have been displaced in their employment. It is a matter of profound shame and regret that the people of Tasmania now find out that the word of the Prime Minister and this Government simply cannot be trusted . The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that no money can be paid until the draft agreement is accepted and executed. I reject that proposition as legally untenable and, in political terms, contrary to the normal practice. I remind honourable members of this House that on previous occasions when there has been a need for a Commonwealth payment to be made, payments have been made and made on account and quite properly so. In the case of bushfire relief and the recent tragedies in Victoria and South Australia, the previous Government said: 'Here is a payment to you on account'. Back in 1967 the same course was taken by the then Prime Minister, Mr Holt.

This Government has provided in the Budget an appropriation of a miserable $30m for 1983-84 in respect of compensation to the State of Tasmania in relation to the action of the Australian Labor Party in bringing to a halt the Gordon below Franklin power development scheme. The Prime Minister should act like a statesman and say to the Premier of Tasmania: 'We will pay to you on account that $30m and you in due course will account back to the Commonwealth authorities showing that the money has been paid for compensation payments to men who have been put out of work and to contractors who are now about to go bankrupt'. The State of Tasmania is currently properly investigating-quite frankly, it should look very carefully at it-the draft agreement which has been sent to it by Prime Minister Hawke. Quite frankly, I think it is a death warrant . The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom), the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr) and the honourable member for Bass (Mr Newman)-all Liberal Party members-and Liberal members of the Senate have been outspoken on this matter. But what of Australian Labor Party senators? They have not spoken one word. They have been prepared to see Tasmania sold out, as has the State Leader of the Opposition, Mr Wriedt and the State members of the ALP have adopted a supine and acquiescent approach.

The Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy), who is at the table, is a member of the legal profession. He will know that what I have said is correct and that the money can be paid on account. The position is now so serious that in Tasmania we are receiving letters from people who wrote to the Press opposing the dam but saying that Tasmania should be properly compensated. Spike Milligan is a very good example. They are now seeing their points of view dishonoured. They are seeing the cause for which they fought prostituted by the Government. Dame Joan Sutherland is another such person. This Government has once again failed to honour its commitments. Could it be, Mr Speaker, that the present Government is taking it out on Tasmania because the people of that State had the good sense not to swallow the socialist bait and gave the Labor Party a thrashing on 5 March-something which many other Australians will wish had happened in many other parts of Australia on that day.