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Monday, 14 October 1996
Page: 5287


Mr WILTON —I rise on a matter of great public importance to the Australian community: the fact that the tardy and belated resignation of the former Assistant Treasurer, Senator Short, has no doubt exacerbated the problems of the Prime Minister (Mr Howard), of his own making, in that he has failed to apply his own ministerial standards. I say that because the resignation should have occurred last Wednesday or last Thursday at the latest. The Prime Minister should have demanded it but he failed to act. The Prime Minister is fast gaining a reputation for becoming a follower and not a leader.

In the particular instance, and in other instances of like matter, the Prime Minister has dithered and, I am sure, will continue to dither on instances that relate both to the Treasurer (Mr Costello) and to Senator Gibson, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. The Prime Minister has failed to apply his own parliamentary standards.

Senator Short's retention of thousands of ANZ Bank shares demanded his resignation on two counts. Firstly, his breach of the standards was plain and, secondly, the Prime Minister's requirement that Senate Short divest himself of thousands of shares upon becoming a minister was also equally plain, and he failed to do it. The former Assistant Treasurer conceded the breach last week yet failed to tender his resignation. More importantly, had the Prime Minister failed to seek his resignation it would have been an act verging on the absurd. In failing to act, the Prime Minister—(Time expired)