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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1766

Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) (Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health and Leader of the Government in the Senate) - Like Senator Murphy, I pay a sincere tribute to our parliamentary colleague Senator Townley on his outstanding maiden speech. Those honourable senators who have been members of this chamber for a long while would know that when I was appointed by the Tasmanian Parliament to this honourable chamber in 1953 I was secretary to the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in Tasmania, the Hon. Rex Townley, the father of our Senator Townley. After my appointment I became a parliamentary colleague of the late Athol Townley, Minister for Defence and for many other portfolios in his time, an uncle of our Senator Townley. I have had a long association with the Townley family. It has helped me in many aspects of my life. It is a great joy for me to be able to congratulate him on his maiden speech. He has adopted what I believe for a young man, a new man, to be an excellent practice. Since he was elected to the Senate he has watched, listened and learned. He has kept himself before the public by asking questions of a searching nature, seeking opinions and seeking help for the people whom he represents. His speech was bereft of party politics or kite flying. Well nigh a year passed before he made his maiden speech.

I remember the late Harold Holt being asked by a new member whether that new member should make his maiden speech during the first debate in the Parliament. Harold Holt said: 'Do you know what Disraeli said when he was asked by a new member of the House of Commons: Should 1 make my maiden speech in the first debate, Mr Prime Minister?' That great man said: 'Young man, it is better that they ask: 'Why did he not speak?' than 'Why did he speak?'. Senator Townley has my congratulations. Tonight he has proved the value of waiting, listening and learning. He has come forward with a contribution that he will be able to circulate proudly to the electors of Tasmania.

There is a degree of divergence of opinion between us on certain aspects of his speech tonight. I refer to the rather strong emphasis he placed on the cold and long winters in Tasmania, its isolation and that watery mass - Bass Strait - that separates us from our off-shore island. Admittedly the climate is cooler, but it is not the cold wet place that he made it out to be. Hobart has 24.87 inches of rain per annum. I believe that it has more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital city. I believe that it has a clearer atmosphere and a better climate than any other capital city. I would like the honourable senator to join other senators from Tasmania, me particularly, in advocating for Tasmania an even more fair deal from the Commonwealth purse. Senator Wood's presence reminds me that I would like Senator Townley to join us in doing all we can to further the tourist potential of our island State - the most valued, valuable and varied piece of real estate in the Commonwealth - because it is from the tourist industry that we will get our improved standards of living from which better conditions will flow.

I am glad that Senator Townley dealt with the situation in regard to the Tasmanian railways. Our early settlers and those in government were unwise when they placed the railways next to the sea along the northern coast and when they placed the road next to the railway. Today aircraft fly over the 3. That was bad planning. It is a plan from which we cannot escape. During the last 3 years the State Liberal Party Government did much to improve our road system. During those 3 years, by representations to the Commonwealth Government, the Liberal Government of Mr Bethune was able to start work on a railway from Launceston to the new industrial centre of Bell Bay. That railway was opposed by the previous government. I believe it is essential. That is why I am pleased that Senator Townley raised the point. It gives me the opportunity to join with him in expressing appreciation that the railway was commenced. I believe that we should press on with our claims for the Commonwealth Government to look at the Tasmanian railway system.

We heard from Queensland senators a little about coal in the last 2 days. I am one who believes that if the railway system from the Fingal Valley through to the port of Bell Bay can be improved and if modern rolling stock can be acquired for the transport of coal we can see a rebirth of the coal industry in this industrious part of Tasmania. This is an industry that at the moment is practically dead. I will be alongside Senator Townley and my colleagues from whatever party or group they may come in making representations to this Government, of which I am proud to be a member, for instance, on the rehabilitation of our railway system. I know that Senator Townley will be willing to join me in making representations to the Commonwealth Government on a policy for which I have been pleading for a number of years. I am quite ready to admit that I cannot achieve all that I desire. However, this is a plea, through you Mr Deputy President, to Senator Townley that I hope he will join me in this respect.

I now turn to Commonwealth expenditure in Tasmania on elements of the defence forces. I believe that Tasmania requires and deserves a better deal in respect to expenditure on defence Services. Also I believe that decisions in this regard should not be made just for the sake of spending money but for the strategic deployment of some of our Services. I have raised before today the question of transferring elements of the Navy to the Derwent estuary. Here is an ideal opportunity to deploy our naval forces and also to win political friends. I believe that we would win friends in New South Wales by taking some of the naval defence services from along the harbour shores of Sydney and returning those shores to the people of New South Wales. Some of these naval forces could be deployed in southern Tasmania.

I do not propose to go any further into this matter. However, as a colleague from Tasmania I wanted to congratulate Senator Townley and to show my agreement with him in some respects although I admonish him a little perhaps for decrying our wonderful climate. 1 request him to muster all of the powerful self-will that he can bring to bear to support the things that I and my colleagues will be putting to the Government.

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