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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1734

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - I participated in the debate on this Bill for only a few minutes last night and 1 want to continue my remarks today. I want briefly to point to some of the fallacies in the remarks that have been made by speakers on the Government side of the chamber. Firstly I refer to a paragraph of Senator Maunsell's speech which appears on page 1684 of Hansard. Senator Maunsell claimed:


And he was referring to members of the Opposition - have not wanted mining companies to come into Queensland. But Queensland will have all of these forms of development in time. It will not be too long before Queensland will notice the millions of dollars that the mining companies will bring in. A new company has commenced operations up near Townsville. Some $200m will be spent there in a few years on nickel mining. There have been knockers of that project, too. People are going around and saying that the mining will pollute the sea, the atmosphere and everything else around the place. They are trying their hardest to stop nickel mining in Townsville. That is the sort of thinking of the present Opposition.

This is what was claimed by Senator Maunsell and it is just one of the things that ought to be repudiated at this time.

The Australian Labor Party has not at any stage said that it did not want nickel mining development to go ahead. In any case, the nickel is not being mined at Townsville. It is being mined at the other end of a 140 mile long railway line which extends into the west of the State. It is true that some treatment of nickel will be carried out at a processing plant some 15 or 16 miles north of Townsville.

Members of the Australian Labor Party have rightly said in the other place that all the precautions in the world ought to be taken to ensure that pollution does not ensue as a result of this development. The controversial off-shore legislation which nas caused division within the Government parties and the marine science legislation are 2 Bills that have still to be debated in this Parliament. One of the first things we have to do is to decide the law of the sea. If the proposed marine science institute is established at Cape Pallarenda it may not be a 'goer', to use an Australian slang phrase, if water pollution is so great that marine life is not able to live in the area. However, it is quite improper, unfair and untrue to say that the Labor Party is opposed to the development of the Greenvale nickel deposit. The Labor Party has not said this at any time. All the Party has said is that there ought to be a greater share in the mineral deposits of Queensland for the Queensland people and the Australian people generally. Members of the Australian Labor Party have said this right across the board; they have not applied this belief to a particular mine. The Labor Party is critical of the way the Australian Country Party is continuing, and has continued over a long period of time, to turn this country into a quarry, not only sending out of this country base minerals that we will need ourselves within the foreseeable future, but also selling these minerals for a pittance.

Senator Bonner,in an effort to take up from where previous speakers on the Government side had left off, made what appears to me to be a direct quotation from the policy speech delivered by Mr Bjelke-Petersen. On page 1696 of Hansard Senator Bonner said:

In 19S7 Queensland's consolidated revenue expenditure was $170m. I ask honourable senators to note that this year that expenditure will total more than $570m. This is a massive increase in any man's language. These are figures that speak for themselves. The additional funds provided under this Bill will be very welcome in Queensland. They will help the State to continue with the task it is facing in its development projects.

That is another fallacy because inflation over this period of time has increased tremendously the overall figures. The fact that expenditure has increased from $170m in 1957 to $570m does not tell the real story. Under the present inflationary trends perhaps if that figure were $700m or $800m it might be nearer the mark. Later in this debate my colleague, Senator Devitt, from Tasmania, will probably be speaking. To obtain a grant of this kind Queensland has become a mendicant State. Queensland has come to the Commonwealth Parliament on its political hands and knees. It is giving away its sovereignty as a State. Some people would say that this is a good idea. But Tasmania and its governments can tell the real story of what happens when a State is placed in such a situation.

It is more than probable - in fact, highly likely - that Queensland would never have been in this position if the present Queensland Government had not been in control of the affairs of that State for the last 15 years. That Government has mismanaged Queensland's economy and its assets to the extent that Queensland now is virtually bankrupt. Later in this debate, I will prove what I have said by reading from the application made by the Queensland Government to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I wish to quote now a couple of points from the annual report for 1971 of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce. Reference is made to development works about which we hear each election time but about which the Queensland Government, especially the Country Party component of it, has failed to do anything. This report states at page 34:

For many years water conservation has been strongly requested of both State and Federal Governments from Local Authorities, organisations and individuals from all over North Queensland districts. One of the most discussed schemes is the Burdekin River Dam, and from the following facts and figures it will be appreciated what this famous river has to offer.

(a)   Catchment Area: 50,000 square miles.

(b)   Average annual run-off: 8,000 acre feet.

(c)   Dam Site: 99 miles from the mouth. There are several other sites which are smaller but nevertheless quite suitable.

(d)   Dam Capacity: 6} million acre feet, which is 16 times that of Sydney Harbour.

(e)   Daily Output: 1,500 million gallons.

No mention at all has been made of schemes of this type in the application made to the Commonwealth Grants Commission by the Queensland Government for financial assistance. The application touches superficially on a number of points but from reading it we see that Queensland is short of money for its police force, for its hospitals and for education. In fact, the Government of Mr Bjelke-Petersen is short of money, period.

Senator Hannan - After last week, it is not.

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