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Wednesday, 30 May 1973
Page: 2906

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I would ask the honourable member to come back to the Bill which deals with a harbour installation.

Mr NIXON - I shall respect your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. I submit that if the honourable member for Eden-Monaro can talk about people losing buttons off their coats and drinking 5.5 gallons per day and the captains of ships running out of whisky my remarks are relevant to the Bill. With your knowledge of this question, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you would recognise that my remarks have been much more relevant to the Bill than those of the honourable member for EdenMonaro. I plead with you to let me make a passing reference to this subject. I felt that I should make this passing reference to this very serious subject which does not directly affect your constituents, Mr Deputy Speaker, but the constituents of the honourable member for Braddon. I point out that the honourable member for Braddon gave a clear undertaking to the people of Grassy and Captain Houfe that the Labor Party was going to do something. They have not done it. They have plainly broken their promise.

This Bill provides money for the construction of a port to enable a ship to sail in and out of the harbour but the Government has turned, its back on the ship. From the second last news which I have received on this matter - there have been occasional changes - the Government was going to bring in an imported ship. But I understand that the Minister for Transport has seen the wisdom of my speech on this subject on an earlier occasion and he is now seeking an Australian ship for use on this service. Is that correct?

Mr Charles Jones - The Standing Orders do not permit me to interject.

Mr NIXON - I am seeking information. I understand that the Minister has now recognised his earlier mistake and that he is prepared to seek an Australian ship. Why does he not use the 'Straitsman* for this service? Why does he not table the report of the ANL which was produced months ago? Is this the open government that we hear so much about? I think that the ANL gave a report on this about the end of January or February.

Mr Charles Jones - The honourable member said a while ago that I did not have the report in March.

Mr NIXON - The Minister said he did not. The report was to hand at the end of February. Why does not the Minister table the report so that we can see what the ANL has to say on this subject? Is it true that the ANL was not allowed to talk about tonnage or to really get down to a proper budget in regard to this service? That is the sort of information we want to find out. Captain Houfe's whole financial future has been jeopardised. The Minister is not being open about this matter yet honourable members opposite talk about open government. These are the questions that remain unanswered. I hope that the Minister will tonight put the propositions clearly to us as to what is going to be the future of the shipping service to King Island.

Mr Whan - Are you for or against the harbour?

Mr NIXON - I helped to negotiate arrangements for this installation under the Bill which is before the House so do not tell me anything about it. What I want to know is what flows out of this Bill and the shipping service to King Island. There has been much disappointment for a number of people who are involved in this matter. We have not heard clearly what the facts are from the Minister. I hope that tonight he will take the opportunity, with your tolerance Mr Deputy Speaker, to give us a proper explanation. I know that you, Sir, are looking forward to it because I know that you have not heard it either. It is therefore important that the Minister for Transport should tell us clearly what is the future of the shipping service to King Island and what is happening in regard to the 'Straitsman'. How is Captain Houfe to be compensated for the money which he invested in the 'Straitsman'? With those few words may I say that I support the Bill?

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