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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2900


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(4.48) —I remind the Minister that if he had listened attentively to what I said he would know that I said I was not seeking to score political points at all. Whether somebody on one side of the chamber or the other has abused this is of no concern to me. What I rose to do was to say what the Government had provided by way of evidence to the Estimates Committee and to this Committee of the Whole, not what I invented at all. The Government said that the judge made a decision and that subsequent to that the government of the day made a specific definition of a principal place of residence. The Department of Special Minister of State went on to say, in a document authorised by the Government, that there had been no change in that definition. The definition that stands is the definition of December 1982 which says that Ministers should nominate as their principal place of residence for travelling allowance purposes the place at which they resided for most of the time or where their family was normally based. That is not my invention; that is the standing decision which is unchanged.

The Minister seeks to suggest that some change was made by the Cabinet decision in November 1983. The fact is that the only decision that was made then was that if one is away from one's principal place of residence and one is in Canberra, one should not claim for weekends. That is quite different. It says that if one is away from one's principal place of residence and one is in Canberra, one should not claim for weekends. The Minister said that there ought to be clarification of this. I remind him where we stand on this. On the evidence I have in my hands that the Government has provided to this Committee-not the evidence of any words of mine-there has been no change at all in the Mahoney definition or in the December 1982 definition. The only change had nothing to do with the principal place of residence; it was only that if one was away from that principal place of residence, one should not claim weekends in Canberra. I simply raise this matter, not to score points but to draw to the attention of the Minister that this is in direct conflict with what was said in a debate in the other place. Indeed, I impress upon the Minister that it would be a darn good thing if in fact this matter were specifically clarified so that all members of this and the other place know where they stood.