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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 461

Mr ANDREW(10.56) —I rise this evening to defend some of the most vulnerable members of my electorate, the senior citizens of my electorate, who not only are under attack from the point of view of the assets test but also currently-believe it or not in Australia-are quite literally under attack because the very homes in which they live are in danger of being blown out of the beachside area in which they are located. The senior citizens to whom I refer live at two little hamlets called Port Parham and Webb Beach. Honourable members may well be forgiven if they know not where Port Parham and Webb Beach are. I hope that they will forgive me if I spend just 30 seconds in a brief geography lesson. Honourable members will be familiar with South Australia and with St Vincents Gulf on which the city of Adelaide is located. At the top of St Vincents Gulf is Port Wakefield, which, of course, is at the heart of the electorate of Wakefield. Just south of Port Wakefield there is an Army proof and experimental range which has been located there since 1920. As a result of that proof and experimental range having been used wisely to test rounds of ammunition and shells for the Army during the Second World War, all the beaches from Port Wakefield for 30 kilometres south are now polluted with Army shells. Those beaches are not accessible. They cannot be used by South Australians as recreation beaches. South Australians accept this as part of the price they pay for defending the nation.

The proposal currently before the residents of Port Wakefield and the residents of these two hamlets, Port Parham and Webb Beach, just beyond the proof range, is to extend the proof range so that Port Parham and Webb Beach also will be shelled by the testing from Port Wakefield. The patriotic citizens of South Australia accept this reluctantly in the interests of the nation's defence. However, the reality is that for three years the people of Port Parham and Webb Beach have not known whether they will be bought out or blown out of the water.

Mr Hand —That is a bit rough.

Mr ANDREW —Precisely. I thank the honourable member for Melbourne for his sympathy. In spite of the fact that on becoming a member of this House I not only inherited this problem but also alerted the then Minister for Defence to it, I have had no reaction from him. Let me be fair.

Mr Hand —What did the previous Government do?

Mr ANDREW —Members of the previous Government were in the process of making a decision when I inherited this problem two years ago.

Mr Hand —And they are still trying to make up their minds.

Mr ANDREW —Precisely. It is perfectly fair to interject that it took the Fraser Government one year to make a decision. I accept that delay. However, it has taken this Government two years to announce nothing at all. In those 2 years the very senior citizens whom the Government claims to be most sensitive towards have been left not knowing whether there is a future in the communities in which they live. In April 1984, almost twelve months ago, under pressure from the South Australian Government and, may I modestly say, the member for Wakefield, the former Minister for Defence said: 'Oh, dear me. Tut, tut. I do not know what we will do so we will have an environmental impact statement.'

Mr Howe —A very wise decision.

Mr ANDREW —A wise decision, to be sure. But in fact we are still waiting on the outcome of that EIS. That is why I am speaking tonight. We were promised that in November 1984 that announcement would be made. Come November the answer was: 'We are caught up in an election. This is no time for making announcements. Wait until January'. Patiently my constituents and I waited until January. The answer then was: 'No, there is a change of Minister now. We will have to brief the new Minister. Wait until March'. March is tomorrow. How much longer will I and the residents of Port Parham and Webb Beach be waiting for that decision? These are senior citizens who have retired there and invested their life savings in these two hamlets. They know not whether to paint their houses or to sell them. They do not know whether they have any future at all. It is the indolence of this Government that is causing them their present suffering.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 11 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 March.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11 p.m. until Tuesday, 19 March at 2 p.m., in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.