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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 3988

Senator SHERRY —My question is to the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Kemp. Minister, I refer you to a question I put to you on 12 May during debate on the government's new 15 per cent superannuation tax, when I asked you:

. . . will you check with your advisers now as to whether any view has recently been conveyed—in the last two weeks—to either the Prime Minister's or the Treasurer's office by the states about their attitude . . . to this package of legislation.

You responded:

I do not think that anyone is able to provide me with any updates.

Given that Mr Olsen, the Premier of South Australia, has now confirmed that he wrote to the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, on 2 May, outlining his concerns over the collection of the new 15 per cent superannuation tax, why did you deliberately, in collusion with the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, mislead this Senate?

The PRESIDENT —Order! I detect within that an imputation, and you should rephrase part of your question.

Senator SHERRY —Why did Senator Kemp mislead the Senate, and why did the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, mislead the House of Representatives on Wednesday?

Senator KEMP —Senator Sherry, you are as badly informed as usual with this question. Why don't you read what I said on 12 May? Why weren't you honest with the Senate in that question—why didn't you read what I said? On 12 May, I said:

Senator, you mentioned the states to me and whether we had received any recent communication from them.

Can you find that quote, Senator Sherry? Keep looking. I went on:

I am advised that there has been some correspondence from the states.

Have you got that quote, Senator Sherry?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator KEMP —Right. So, in actual fact, the quote you read me was quite wrong. I went on:

This forms part of the consultation process and will obviously be progressed when the legislation is passed.

Senator Sherry, you did not read that quote. You missed that quote—your usual sloppy work. I did not mislead the Senate. The Prime Minister did not mislead the House. What you have done with that selective quote is attempt to mislead the Senate.

Senator SHERRY —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Senator Kemp, it was not on just one occasion that you were asked about this matter. It was not on two occasions. On at least three occasions you claimed that you were unable to provide the Senate with, in your words:

. . . any significant change on the advice I have given you already.

There is quote after quote in the Hansard over the days of that debate. Why, Minister, have you not come into the Senate since that time with a reply? It is 22 days since I asked you to check on this matter with the Prime Minister's office and the Treasurer's office. How does that accord with the ministerial code of conduct which says:

Ministers must be honest in their public dealings and should not    intentionally mislead the Parliament or the public. Any misconception    caused inadvertently should be corrected at the earliest opportunity—

not 22 days later.

Senator KEMP —You are absolutely hopeless. You asked me with your first question whether we had received any recent—

Senator Sherry —Day after day—6 May and 7 May—you misled the Senate.

Senator KEMP —You quoted 12 May, and you asked me whether we had received any recent correspondence from the states. What did I say on 12 May?

Senator Sherry —You lied to the Senate.

Senator KEMP —The trouble is you have written your question and your supplementary question and, as usual, you do not listen to the answer. You did not read the Hansard carefully. You missed what I said in the Hansard . You asked me whether we had received any communication from the states and I said:

Senator, you mentioned the states to me and whether we had received any recent communication from them.

That is what you asked me.

Senator Sherry —Why did you deny it?

Senator KEMP —I did not deny it. I said:

I am advised that there has been some correspondence from the states.

That is in your Hansard . Why don't you read it, you dope.

Senator Patterson —Madam President, I rise on a point of order. During the answering of the question, Senator Sherry interjected and said, `You lied to the Senate.' I ask that you ask him to withdraw that.

The PRESIDENT —I am going to. I took your point of order first. Senator Sherry, I require you to withdraw that statement.

Senator Sherry —I withdraw. He misled the Senate three times.