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Monday, 14 August 2000
Page: 18852

Mr ALBANESE (3:21 PM) —I refer to the question I asked you on 27 June this year in which I raised the importance of the Parliamentary Library being independent and of the information the library gives being confidential. At that time, I asked you:

Are you aware that the Minister for Community Services has directed the Parliamentary Library to send any requests relating to Centrelink to an officer in his ministerial office?

Having raised it in parliament, I received on 24 July this year—during the winter recess—three pages of information from the Parliamentary Library in response to my request relating to rental assistance and permanent caravan park residents, including a breakdown of the numbers who would benefit from the increase in maximum rental assistance. I was surprised to receive this on the ministerial letterhead of the office of the Hon. Larry Anthony MP, Minister for Community Services, from Kath Brady, the liaison officer.

I continue to be concerned that, in spite of the issue being raised in this parliament, requests to the Parliamentary Library for information are still going through the minister's office. I think this is a very serious breach, particularly in light of the fact that it had been raised in this parliament before and that you had undertaken to investigate. I ask that I be able to table these documents or hand them to you on an informal basis and that you will undertake to investigate this matter and report back to the parliament.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Grayndler may care to assist me. From recollection, the matter was dealt with by my office and I responded to the member for Grayndler. Am I right in that?

Mr Albanese —No, Mr Speaker. We had an informal meeting in your office the next day. At that meeting you undertook to investigate, both in your capacity as Speaker and also in your capacity as the chair of the library committee. There still has not been a response to the parliament and the minister still continues to demand that the Parliamentary Library go through his office.

Mr SPEAKER —I do know the matter was followed up, and I do know—and, I must admit, I am now going by memory, as the member for Grayndler is aware—that there was no impropriety detected. I am sorry that matter has not been conveyed to the member for Grayndler and I will follow that up. However, if he would like to make copies of the letters he has available to my office I will of course follow up the matter he has just raised. The member for Grayndler is seeking leave to table the documents?

Leave not granted.

Mr SPEAKER —If the member for Grayndler is happy to make them available to my office, I will take the matter up.