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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3218


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(10.49) —I will deal first with Senator Martin's matters. The details as she stated them are true and accurate. To make things even worse, I think she failed to mention that one night both she and I spoke to officials of the Department of Health who were in this chamber about the answer and it was after that that I assumed she would receive the answer. I can offer no explanation as to what has happened. All I can say is that this afternoon I spoke with an officer of the Department of Health. I told him what I thought of the Department's failure to answer Senator Martin's reasonable and perfectly clear, straightforward question once the printing errors had been sorted out. The expressions that I used to that officer of the Department would not have been permitted to have been repeated in this chamber. I will ensure that officers of the Department answer the questions; if they do not I will go over and drag the answers out of them. I have no explanation for the failure to answer the question. I certainly understand and share Senator Martin's indignation about the matter.

Senator Rae has certainly shown a great interest in the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labor Party tonight. The first matter that I heard him raise was Senator Hearn's reference to Senator Harradine as being the sole parliamentary representative of the National Civic Council. I do not think that is quite accurate. I know that for many years Senator Harradine was the representative of the National Civic Council, but in recent times there has been a split in the National Civic Council. I understand that Senator Harradine has joined the breakaway group and is no longer associated with Mr Santamaria. I do not know what the difference between the new group and the old group is, apart from a dislike of Mr Santamaria, but I dare say that Senator Rae will very shortly get an answer to the matters that he raised tonight during the adjournment debate.

Mr Kelvin McCoy attacked not only Senator Rae during the last election campaign but also me and other members of the Labor Party. I well remember an advertisement that the Organisation for Tasmanian Development put out saying: ' Put Labor last'. I was the head of the Labor ticket. Senator Rae was head of the Liberal ticket. The only difference between the way the organisation treated us and the way it treated the Liberal Party was that it put out a ticket asking electors to vote Senator Walters No. 1 and left Senator Rae off the ticket because it had some obsession about Senator Rae. Mr McCoy has been attacking the Labor Party for many years and has, in fact, attacked me on several occasions. He has been very severe in the past on the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, describing him in all sorts of colourful and lurid terms. Therefore, I am as surprised as Senator Rae that Mr McCoy wants to rejoin the Labor Party. I will have something to say about that in private meetings of the Labor Party. I have no intention of discussing that in the Senate tonight.

I will refer to the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) Senator Rae's extraordinary series of accusations about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and its Board and the manner of its appointment of its new General Manager. I claim to be the only person in this Parliament who does not claim to be an economist. I certainly do not claim to be a lawyer and have no claim to be an expert on communications or the ABC. I think it is sensible that I refer that matter to Mr Duffy and get some detailed answers for Senator Rae. I wish only that Senator Rae had raised the matter before the other place got up.

I share the sentiments of Senator Rae and Senator Martin that we should thank the staff and everyone associated with this place, but rather than delay the proceedings and keep up later even more members of the staff I will leave the matter at that tonight and will see all honourable senators in August.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m., until 2 p.m. on 21 August 1984, unless previously called together in accordance with the resolution passed earlier this day.