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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 284

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(10.41) —I do not want to delay the Senate. What we just heard was a parochial speech by Senator Archer in support of his views on Wynyard Airport. I think I should point out some of the more ridiculous arguments that he used. One of the last arguments that he used was that this was an example of the Government indulging in centralisation. It should be on the Senate record that we have an airport in Hobart, an airport in Launceston and an airport in Devonport which is being upgraded to jet standard because of the farsightedness of the Devonport people. A few kilometres away we have an airport in Wynyard. This is no more an example of centralisation than any of the arguments that Senator Archer used.

He pointed out quite correctly that on the north-west coast, particularly the far north-west coast-I suppose I fly in there with a frequency second only to Senator Archer-we have dairy factories, we have timber mills, we have dioxide, we have mining, we have vegetable processing and we have vegetable growing. Senator Archer seemed to be suggesting that because Wynyard Airport was not going to be upgraded those industries would be relocated, that people would pick up their dairy farms and take them away and that people would take their mines away.

Senator Archer —Don't be damned ridiculous.

Senator GRIMES —That is what the honourable senator said when he made his speech .

Senator Archer —You heard what I said.

Senator GRIMES —I heard what the honourable senator said. He said that as a result of he airport not going ahead there had been withdrawals, amalgamations and rationalisations. He gave us not one example. The problem is that in situations like this when industries are not doing well, of course they will blame something like this. The honourable senator did not give one example and he should.

Senator Archer —I will give you an example.

Senator GRIMES —If the honourable senator wants an example of why the upgrading of Wynyard Airport has not proceeded, I will give him one. In 1983 there were 70 ,655 scheduled airline passengers and in 1973, 10 years before, there were 82, 137. People who are using airports on the north-west coast are marching with their feet. In those 10 years there has been a reduction in the number of people who use that airport.

Senator Archer knows what the real problem is. The previous Government introduced the local ownership of airports program. I do not argue about it; I think there is a place for it and there is also not a place for it. The people in Devonport realised what was going on. They got themselves organised, got their airport upgraded and did the right thing. The people at Wynyard did not because Mr Groom, the honourable member for Braddon, and Senator Archer told them not to do it; to keep right out of it. If people talk to the locals they will tell them that they were misled by their two local members. They were left out of it. If they had gone into the matter earlier it might have been a different situation. Wynyard Airport may have been upgraded and Devonport may not have been upgraded.

Let us not wring our hands in this place and tear out our hair and say: 'This terrible Government is not upgrading Wynyard Airport when it should be doing so and when Wynyard Airport could have been upgraded'. This could have happened if Wynyard's local members had not got to the local people-do not deny it-and said 'Do not have a bar of our Government's proposals', that is, the former Government's proposals. The Devonport people said: 'We will be left in the lurch if we do not'. They went ahead, they were progressive. What has happened? Their airport has been upgraded and Wynyard Airport has not.

Wynyard Airport will eventually be upgraded. Of course it will be upgraded, but it will be upgraded in the normal pattern under the normal set of priorities that should be used in this area. To blame all the ills that may exist on the north-west coast on the fact that Wynyard Airport has not been upgraded to Senator Archer's satisfaction now-he was not so interested in it a few years ago -is nonsense. I will refer the details of the matter to the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley). I am sure that the Minister will give the honourable senator an appropriate answer.