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Monday, 29 March 1999
Page: 4627

Mr LEE (9:36 PM) —by leave—Given that my colleague the member for Wills is not in the chamber, I am sure he would like me to at least place on record the opposition's deep concern that the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation could not answer a very simple question accurately.

Miss Jackie Kelly interjecting

Mr LEE —The Minister for Sport and Tourism seems to think this is a matter for some hilarity, but when a minister of the Crown gives an incorrect answer to the House on a matter for which he has responsibility it is not something that can be ignored. At least the minister has come into the House tonight and acknowledged his error. What was the date of the incorrect statement?

Mr Hockey —I've said that—16 February.

Miss Jackie Kelly —It was 16 February.

Mr LEE —What is today's date?

Mr Hockey —The 29th, isn't it?

Miss Jackie Kelly —The 29th.

Mr LEE —So in no way could this be described as a speedy admission of the error.

Mr Hockey —But it's the first I've found out about it.

Mr LEE —The minister interjects that this is the first occasion on which he has found out about it. Given that the minister claims his incorrect answer was based on incorrect advice from his departmental officers, it is disturbing that departmental officers have not brought this error to the minister's attention before now. Mr Deputy Speaker, I simply make the point that, when a minister of the Crown misleads by giving incorrect information to the parliament of Australia, that minister should be held accountable because it is a serious matter. Minister, we will pursue this matter further.