Thursday, 16 August 2007
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his announcement this morning on Commonwealth funded local government plebiscites administered by the Australian Electoral Commission. Will the Prime Minister now commit to funding plebiscites requested by any local authority on whether Australians will accept nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps in their local communities?
I inform the member for Kingsford Smith that there is nothing under the present law to stop a local government body from holding a plebiscite and using the Australian Electoral Commission on a fee-for-service basis. I also inform the member who sits opposite that, unlike in Queensland where a law has gone through proposing specific council amalgamations, no specific proposals for a nuclear power plant exist anywhere in Australia. The member for Kingsford Smith knows this. It is perfectly open to either of the esteemed municipalities of Waverley—and the member will be very familiar with that municipality—or Randwick, if they so wish, to approach the Australian Electoral Commission on a fee-for-service basis.
Opposition members interjecting—
It is very interesting. Here we go again. Let the House observe this. For the purpose of the state of Queensland, the Leader of the Opposition is saying, ‘Yes, I am following John Howard on council amalgamations,’ but he gets his environment spokesman, who comes from Sydney, to run a bit of interference on the other side. The old contortionist from Griffith—he cannot help himself. His predecessor as Labor leader was right: he was probably looking at those focus groups and those focus groups were saying, ‘Well, look, on the one hand Beattie has really got you into trouble on this but, on the other hand, you don’t want to sound as though you are against these amalgamations.’ Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that we have a very simple proposition—that is, let the people of Queensland speak. Don’t try to gag them. ‘Let my people speak,’ is a very good injunction.