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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 2065

Mr WHITE —We wish to give the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism another chance to answer this question. When the Minister received the recommendation of his committee on 3 April-and he has now said that he did discuss it-with whom did he discuss it? Can he assure the House that during those discussions he at no time tried to avoid or circumvent the recommendation of that committee or to promote the cause of an American company?

Mr JOHN BROWN —I think I answered that question a few minutes ago. I cannot see any reason at all why I should not have discussed the recommendations of that committee with anybody before I went to the Cabinet.

Mr Beale —Who was it?

Mr JOHN BROWN —If the honourable member asks the honourable member for McPherson for a copy of the transcript of that alleged phone conversation he might find out. The decision of the first committee was simply that the American company was far superior.

Mr White —Are you quite happy for it to be released?

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for McPherson will cease interjecting. He has already asked his question.

Mr JOHN BROWN —Madam Speaker, if he wants to get really into the cave by--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Minister will just answer the question.

Mr JOHN BROWN —This is part of the answer. If the honourable member wants to get really into the cave by tabling an alleged transcript of an alleged-illegally obtained if it was-phone conversation, that is up to him. Nothing would be below him, so I would not be surprised if he did. He has already put out Press releases saying that this transcript alleged serious ministerial impropriety. The honourable member is quite prepared to vilify me on an unverified transcript of an unspecified alleged phone conversation.

Mr Howard —Answer the question; don't bluster.

Mr JOHN BROWN —I will answer the question in my way, without any assistance from you, Mickey Mouse. If the Leader of the Opposition had half a brain he would not have the honourable member for McPherson sitting on the front bench; he would have him up the back where he belongs and he would have the honourable member for Fadden, who knows something about the subject that the honourable member for McPherson is supposed to cover, down on the front bench.

The first committee said quite clearly-seven to nothing-that the American proposal was much superior. The second committee-I do not mind revealing a little bit of this information-said that there could be no comparison of the theatrical merits of the two propositions; the only difference was the price-the $1m. But there were some people on that committee who expressed the opinion that, if the award was made to the Australian company on the strength of the disparity in price, probably the bulk of that million dollars needed to be spent propping up the Australian company to make it anywhere near the standard of the American company. That was a very serious quandary for me to ponder.

Eventually I accepted the decision of the committee, after reference to previous members of my committee-and I think they were entitled to comment. I took the recommendations to the Cabinet-it is all there in the Cabinet papers if the honourable member can wait long enough for them to be released-and I unequivocally recommended to the Cabinet that we accept the decision of the committee. If I have done anything wrong in that context, the honourable member should let me know.