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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3596

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE ACTING PRIME MINISTER, DR JF CAIRNS HOBART TRAGEDY

Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/01/1975

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 3596

PRIM E MINISTER 16 January 1975
4
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE ACTING PRIME MINISTER, DR. J. F. CAIRNS
HOBART TRAGEDY
The Acting Prime Minister, Dr. Cairns, announced today
that he had sent a message to the Tasmanian Premier, Mr. Reece,
informing him that the Australian Government would reimburse
the State for the full amounts of expenditure incurred by it
and its authorities as a result of the Hobart Bridge disaster.
This had been agreed to by the Cabinet at its meeting in Sydney
today. Dr. Cairns recalled that, immediately on hearing of
the disaster, the Prime Minister had assured Mr. Reece of the
full and ready co-operation of the Australian Government, and
this had been followed up with an offer to provide up to
$ 13 million for reconstruction of the bridge, upgrading the
road through Bridgewater and ferry terminals.
Dr. Cairns said that the Australian Government's
commitment was subject to the various expenditures being
accepted by it as attributable to the bridge collapse, and
reasonable. It was not possible at this stage to estimate the
ultimate level of Australian Government assistance. * In the
event that the State were to make any successful claims on the
A. N. L. and/ or their insurers, the Australian Government's
assistance would be correspondingly reduced.
The Australian Government is preparing legislation -to
authorise the provision of this assistance to the State.
It will be introduced as soon as possible after the Australian
Parliament re-assembles in February.
Dr. Cairns also announced that a Committee of officials
is to be established with the-responsibility for co-ordinating
Australian Government assistance. He had suggested to Mr.
Reece that he might like to consider establishing a similar
body for the State.
" I re-affirm that the Australian Government will do
everything in its power, in co-operation with the State
Government, to ensure that Hobart's immediate problems are
overcome, and the bridge restored, as quickly as possible,"
Dr. Cairns said. / 2

-2-
Cabinet resolved that the Minister for Repatriation
and Compensation inquire into the adequacy of compensation
payments for death and personal injury resulting from the
Hobart Bridge disaster.
The Minister would then make recommendations to
Cabinet as to whether an additional compensation would be
paid by the Australian Government.
His recommendations would be in line with the Government's
approach to the aftermath of the Darwin cyclone, its policy
on the provision of compensation for victims of-natural
disasters, and its proposed national compensation scheme.
SYDNEY

Transcript 3596