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Thursday, 17 October 1974
Page: 1822

Senator STEELE HALL (South Australia) (Leader of the Liberal Movement) - I would like to say a few words about a matter which has arisen in the sense that I have now been able to read one or two reports of what happened in my absence from the Senate yesterday concerning a vote that was taken in this chamber. I have also had the opportunity to peruse a report printed in the Launceston 'Examiner' concerning that vote. I want to read to the Senate my reply to that report which I sent to the 'Examiner' today. I hope that the 'Examiner' will print my reply and put in its correct light the situation in relation to the vote taken yesterday on the States Grants Bill. I wrote to the 'Examiner':

The sense of your report in Thursday's copy of 'The Examiner' concerning the debate on the States Grants Bill in the Senate was admirably developed on a pro-Tasmanian basis. I applaud your paper's active interest in your State's future.

However, the real issue of the debate was the provision of an additional $15m per year to Tasmania on a progressive annual growth rate.

I did not vote against that Bill, as was inferred in the first paragraph of your report.

I interpose here that the first paragraph of the report stated:

Senator Hall,of South Australia, joined Labor senators last night to defeat a motion calling on the Government to increase funds for Tasmania.

My letter to the 'Examiner' continues:

In fact, I voted for the Bill without reservation of any kind.

The point of contention on which you have reported concerned an additional paragraph that Senator Rae unfortunately moved to have inserted into the motion for the second reading of the Bill.

I voted against his motion which was nothing more than a divisive expression of opinion because it was potentially of great harm to Tasmania.

The States Grants Bill as passed is a matter of some pride for Tasmanians as it now enables them to be governed outside of the Grants Commission. It is the result of a successful negotiation which will help every taxpayer in the State.

Senator Rae'smotion was potentially a very harmful proposition for his State. He was quite clearly hitting out at the hand of generosity extended by the Commonwealth, and I am sure that if it had passed on my vote in the Senate it would have depressed Tasmania's reputation on the Federal level.

I do not lay all of the blame for this at the feet of Senator Rae. The Opposition has been unable to clearly see its role and has missed many excellent opportunities to effectively attack a Federal Labor Government which I believe is doing a great deal of harm to this nation.

Instead of concentrating on those proper areas of attack, the Opposition has hit out blindly as in this particular instance of Senator Rae's, and often harmed the free enterprise system which it ought to protect.

The loss of the amending AIDC Bill is one example where Tasmanian industrial development could well be delayed because of the Opposition obstruction in the Senate.

Liberal Senators will have to learn to put the welfare of their State above their Party.

I trust they do not try to mount another political stunt for the benefit of mainland politicians at the expense of Tasmania.

That is my reply to the report which appeared in the Launceston 'Examiner'. Upon making inquiries I found that the leading part of the article in the 'Examiner' was written on a report telephoned through to the 'Examiner' by Senator Rae. There was no misconception in the reporting of the debate and of the vote in this House in any message conveyed by the newspaper reporters in the Press Gallery. I have checked that. The matter was properly reported in every respect except in relation to that aspect which Senator Rae reported himself.

Senator Rae - Detective Steele Hall.

Senator STEELE HALL - Yes, it is detective work. The time has generally arrived- it will not be this evening unless honourable senators want to convey it further- to take apart the sorts of motives which prompted Senator Greenwood and Senator Rae in the debate which took place yesterday. They were of the lowest motives and they do not match up with the statements made previously by those 2 honourable senators, which I have begun to research in Hansard. It will take some considerable time to ascertain what their motives are in this place but, if Senator Rae wants me to, I could refer to some of his previous remarks about smear campaigns and misrepresentation. He has been joined by his Deputy Leader who had been very frequent in his references in this chamber to higher motives. He has used such references in recent times, especially yesterday. As I say, it is the business of other honourable senators if they want to continue with this matter.

I give fair warning to people like Senator Rae and Senator Greenwood that if the level of their motives is as has been indicated, this matter will not rest there. I will use a considerable amount of time to reveal those motives to their own electorates and to the people of Australia generally. I will certainly bring them to the attention of the Senate. The particular incident to which I have referred is an example of a severe misrepresentation, which has been clearly set out in my reply which I hope the 'Examiner' will print. I want to make it quite clear at this stage that I voted without reservation yesterday for the advantages to be given to Tasmania. I hope that further negotiations will be entered into with the Federal Government on behalf of that State in regard to its other needs. I hope that I will be given the chance to vote on further proposals which will be of advantage to Tasmania. I will not have a proper approach made by the Tasmanian Government to the Federal Government besmirched by the attitudes of the honourable senators I have named who tried to use Tasmania for their Party ends yesterday.

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