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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3120

Senator KILGARIFF —Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with the Prime Minister's view, reported in today's Australian newspaper, that uranium is unimportant as an issue in the Northern Territory? Is this extraordinary opinion a reflection of Mr Hawke's disregard for the very real concerns of Territorians, who are faced with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of job creating investment in uranium mines, and Aboriginal traditional owners in particular, who have been robbed of millions in expected royalty payments and who must now continue to exist on government handouts?

Senator BUTTON —I am not aware of the statement made by the Prime Minister but I assume that it was made in the particular context of saying that a number of things are important to Territorians in the course of the election campaign which is now taking place and having regard to their general view of the future of the Northern Territory. Senator Kilgariff has taken it upon himself to take a very subjective view of what the feelings, as he puts it, of Northern Territorians are on these matters. I do not think he is necessarily the most astute judge. Senator Kilgariff came into this Parliament representing the National Country Party, representing the feelings of that party, and once he got in this Parliament he changed from the Country Party to the Liberal Party. Whose feelings was he representing then?

Senator Withers —You are wrong.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Withers says I am wrong. He has come to life, after seven years of silence in the Senate, to tell me I am wrong, I suppose on a point of detail. The point is that Senator Kilgariff came into this Parliament under one set of colours and changed to another. Whose feelings was he representing then? I do not know whether his subjective judgment about this matter is right or wrong. It is probably no better than the Prime Minister's. I would have thought that a whole range of issues would be relevant to the people in the Northern Territory in the coming election. I cannot make the same sort of value judgments about that which Senator Kilgariff purports to make.