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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1324

Question No. 507

Mr Hodgman asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 13 September 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that as at 12 September 1983 the State of Tasmania had not received 1 cent in compensation following the action of his Government in stopping the Gordon-below-Franklin Power Development Scheme.

(2) Has he said that no compensation monies will be paid to Tasmania until the draft agreement is approved and executed.

(3) Does he dispute the claim that 377 Tasmanian workers have been displaced from their employment as the result of the action of the Commonwealth Government in stopping the Gordon-below-Franklin Power Development Scheme.

(4) In view of the Budget appropriation of $30m compensation to Tasmania for 1983-84, will he now ensure Tasmania is paid the $30m ''on account'' and, on the basis that the State of Tasmania will properly apply these monies in payment of the wages of the 377 workers displaced, and other compensation payments, thereby relieve Tasmania from the current budgetary pressures presently imposed upon it by the actions of the Government.

Mr Hawke —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) & (2) On 31 August I presented to the Premier of Tasmania for his signature an Interim Financial Agreement, which establishes the mechanism for Commonwealth payments to Tasmania (including advances) in respect of certain alternative work projects, income maintenance for Hydro-Electric Commission employees, and assistance to contractors formerly engaged on the Gordon-below-Franklin Power Development Scheme.

This Agreement is the product of negotiations between Commonwealth and State officials. The State has understood since early July, when a first draft of the Agreement was provided by the Commonwealth, that an Agreement would need to be completed before payments could begin to flow to the State.

From the beginning of the negotiations on this matter, it has been the Commonwealth's aim to conclude appropriate financial arrangements, including the normal information and audit arrangements appropriate to the expenditure of Commonwealth funds, that would enable payments to Tasmania to commence as quickly as possible. Given that the projects to be funded have already been agreed in principle by the Premier and myself, and that the draft Agreement makes provision for review of its terms as necessary, it is difficult to understand the reason for delay on the State's part. The fact that payments have not yet commenced cannot in any way be attributed to lack of action or good intent on the Commonwealth's part.

(3) I understand that the number of persons directly employed on the Gordon- below-Franklin project as of 1 July 1983 was of this order.

(4) See (1) & (2) above.