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Thursday, 18 April 1985
Page: 1422

Mr HODGMAN(5.11) —My remarks will be brief but I want to make two specific points about the motion at this stage, before the work is referred back to the Public Works Committee. In my capacity as shadow Minister for Housing and Construction I was recently in Townsville. I visited the Townsville Airport and saw the situation there. From the outset I say that I totally agree with the matter being referred back to the Public Works Committee. I think it is fair to say that both the previous member for Herbert and, across party lines, the present honourable member for Herbert (Mr Lindsay), have repeatedly drawn to the attention of this Parliament the situation in Townsville. Having seen the situation, I simply say that the work is desperately needed. On behalf of the Opposition I do nothing other than to thank the Government for bringing the reference to the Committee. I hope that the Committee will complete its investigation and bring down its report quickly and that the Government will get on with the job.

I do have to say, though-this is the bad part of my speech from the point of view of the present Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr West) and this Government-that I would be failing in my duty to this Parliament and certainly in my duty to my electorate if I did not draw attention to the schizophrenic thinking of the Hawke socialist Government in relation to the upgrading of airports around Australia. Whilst I do not begrudge the $14.7m which is being provided for the upgrading of Townsville Airport, I do have to ask where the Government was when it came to providing $6m for the Hobart International Airport for very necessary upgrading. The Government was not here because it did not refer the matter to the Public Works Committee. It forced the Premier and the people of Tasmania to dish out $6m of dam compensation money to pay for work that the Government should have done. It was not the fault of the present Minister. He was not the Minister at the time. Let this go on record as one occasion in this Parliament when I am not blaming the Minister, because it was not his decision.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you come from Western Australia. I come from Tasmania. I believe that this Government should be honest and even-handed in relation to the upgrading of airports. I repeat: I welcome the move to refer to the Public Works Committee a program for Townsville which is much needed and which, in Townsville four weeks ago, I publicly undertook to support on behalf of the Opposition. I repeat: Both the past member for Herbert and, across party lines, the present honourable member for Herbert have been extremely active on this matter. But why is it that we have one rule for Townsville and a different rule for Hobart? I charge the Minister, as long as he holds the portfolio of Housing and Construction, with this responsibility: He must ensure that there is fair dealing and that we do not see Tasmanians taken, in my humble opinion, too cheaply by a Government which says: 'We will not spend the money. You can find it out of your own resources'. In fact, being fair to the Minister, had he been the Minister at the time, the disgraceful decision of the Hawke socialist Government not to fund the upgrading of Hobart International Airport would not have been taken.

I wish the Townsville project every success. I also say in passing that it is more than significant that this reference occurs just two weeks after the Townsville City Council elections at which, I am sure all members of the House would be delighted to know, two Liberal aldermen were elected, and a third Liberal candidate narrowly defeated. So the Townsville City Council, which used to comprise 10 Australian Labor Party aldermen, including the Mayor, and one Independent, is now becoming a little more democratic because it has the advantage of two Liberal aldermen. I assure honourable members that Aldermen Blades and Lindsay, as Liberal aldermen, will be watching the development of this project very closely. However, let not the Government ever again make fish of one and foul of another. Let the Minister, while he has anything to do with the matter, never again let decisions be taken that are against Australia's tiniest but most beautiful State-Tasmania. I have to say bluntly that I wish the present Minister-I note that the honourable member for Bass (Mr Smith) who is from Tasmania is present in the chamber-had referred to the Public Works Committee the proposal to spend $6m on the upgrading of Hobart International Airport. The fact is that the people of Tasmania had to pay $6m out of their own pockets. That was a pretty rough deal. Apart from those criticisms, the Opposition supports this matter being referred to the Public Works Committee and wishes the Committee every success in its deliberations. I am certain that its members will enjoy the opportunity to again visit Townsville which is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.