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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1242

Mr BALDWIN —Has the Prime Minister had any discussions with the Premier of Tasmania since their last meeting on 31 August concerning the signing of the interim financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the State following the cessation of work on the Gordon below Franklin dam? Has there been any indication from the State as to when the agreement might be concluded?

Mr HAWKE —Mr Speaker, I wonder whether you will allow me a little latitude in answering the question because it goes to the point whether I have been having any discussions with anyone. I had some discussions with a person who was recently mentioned in this House by the honourable member for O'Connor. The House will recall the notice of motion which he gave. When I was at that great event on Sunday, I stood next to the man who performed the magnificent achievement of beating me to the pole position. As I was standing next to him, the great assembled crowd below started to boo and boo and boo Mr Moffat. I think it was very unfortunate. I said to Mr Brock: 'Why are they booing?' and Mr Brock said: 'They must think he is a Liberal politician'.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER —I think that is probably enough latitude.

Mr HAWKE —I think it is enough latitude, Mr Speaker. It is the case that I had very amicable telephone discussions with the Premier of Tasmania on Friday. It is very interesting to note that the Premier said to me that he had no major problems with the interim agreement and expected formally to communicate with me in respect of that interim agreement by the end of this week. In that conversation he informed me that the major cause of the delay had been the need for his legal advisers to examine the agreement in detail. That was the conversation I had with the Premier on Friday, but I note that he has also had something to say publicly about this matter.

Of course, the Federal Government is pleased that the State appears now to be moving towards endorsing the proposals that I put to the State of Tasmania about a month ago. It is very significant in these circumstances that the Premier has been saying these things. It is a matter of pleasure to the Government that what has been said by the Premier puts down the miserable attempts at political point scoring by Tasmanian members of this House in recent times. To make quite clear the way in which the Premier of Tasmania has put down this miserable point scoring by Tasmanian members opposite I will share with the House the comments of the Premier on 29 September. He was told on that day on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio program that the lack of funds going to Tasmania had prompted criticism of the Federal Government. I ask every Opposition member from Tasmania to listen very clearly to what the Premier of Tasmania had to say. When told that there had been criticism of the Federal Government, he said:

Oh, look, I don't know about that. I haven't been critical at all of the Federal Government about that because I have known exactly what's gone on.

The interviewer then said to the Premier:

Well, your Liberal colleagues in the House of Representatives, particularly Mr Hodgman, have been very critical.

The Premier of Tasmania replied in these terms:

Oh, you know, as I said before, back benchers and private members sometimes have to do things to get publicity.

It could not be much clearer, could it? After gutting the honourable member for Denison in that way the Premier then said:

I am quite happy with the progress that has been made. I always understood that we would not get the $25.8m until that agreement was signed.

The Premier was also reported in the Launceston Examiner the next day to the effect:

. . . that he was totally satisfied with the overall progress of the negotiations but they were complex matters which would not be resolved quickly.

I hope that has put to bed once and for all the sham and hypocrisy which have been coming from the Tasmanian representatives on the other side. The Premier of Tasmania, out of his own mouth, has condemned these people, who have no interest in the real concerns of the people of Tasmania but who are trying to score miserable political points when the Premier of Tasmania is co-operating with this Government to look after what he recognises as the interests of the people of Tasmania. It is about time Tasmanian members opposite really understood the interests of Tasmania and brought an end to this nonsense.