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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2503

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) (Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania, embodying arrangements for a Commonwealth contribution of $1.355m towards the cost of construction of a seaport at Grassy, King Island. The Bill also seeks the necessary authorisation of expenditure for the purposes of the Agreement. The proposed assistance for this project was agreed by the former Prime Minister in March 1972 and an offer made to the Tasmanian Premier of the day. Following the change in the Tasmanian Government in April 1972, the new Premier reiterated his State's acceptance of the Commonwealth offer.

The proposed port, situated at Little Grassy Bay on the south-east coast of King Island, is being developed as an alternative to the existing port of Currie. Over the years, shipping operators have found difficulty in providing a reliable, economic service to King Island owing to the hazards of entering or leaving the port of Currie in bad weather. There are also severe restrictions on the size of vessels able to use that port. Development of a more sheltered port at Grassy will enable larger vessels to operate on a more regular basis. The Commonwealth has had a special interest in King Island since the war service land settlement scheme was established on the Island in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government. From 1963 until April last year the Australian Government provided financial assistance towards the shipping service linking the Island with the Australian mainland.

Work on the port at Little Grassy Bay is nearing completion. Peko Wallsend Ltd, the parent company of King Island Scheelite Ltd, which operates a scheelite mine close to the port site, is acting on behalf of the Tasmanian Government as major contractor and coordinator of contracts. Overburden and rock from the mine are being used in the construction of the main breakwater. The company has also provided finance for a 20 ton crane. The State of Tasmania will bear full responsibility for the maintenance and technical and economic viability of the port and its installations. The port will be operated for the State Government by the Marine Board of King

Island. Port facilities include a stern loading ramp for roll-on roll-off cargoes.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $ 1.848m. Of this $110,000 is by way of a loan from Peko Wallsend Ltd and $383,000 was spent by the State in 1970-71. The Australian Government will provide the balance of $1.355m. The Agreement incorporated in this Bill provides for this amount in the form of a non-repayable grant of $677,500 and an interest bearing loan of $677,500 repayable over 15 years. The detailed terms of the Agreement follow the usual lines for projects of this nature and include provisions to ensure the necessary co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State in respect of control of expenditure, repayments and interest. I commend the Bill to the House and 1 hope that it receives a much smoother passage than did the previous piece of legislation which I picked up from the former Government.

Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.

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