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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 360

Senator CHIPP —My question to the Minister for Social Security concerns the Prime Minister's statements on the Schildberger program yesterday in which he attacked the Australian Council of Social Service and wrongly stated that the Executive Director of that organisation was asking for a salary of $45,600. As the Minister would know, this figure is incorrect. The actual amount submitted by the ACOSS Executive Director was in fact $32,600. Has the Prime Minister retracted his false claim and will he apologise to this highly respected organisation fighting for the poor families of Australia?

Senator GRIMES —I have not seen the direct report of the broadcast referred to by Senator Chipp. I am afraid that if it is as Senator Chipp said then both Senator Chipp and Mr Hawke were wrong. The original claim for an increase in salary for the Executive Director of the Australian Council of Social Service was not $45, 300 but $42,200, an increase of 31.9 per cent on his previous salary. When I pointed out to a senior member of the Australian Council of Social Service that that was a bit rich coming from an organisation which had just asked the taxpayers and the wage earners of Australia to demonstrate restraint by not receiving a tax cut and to maintain their wages within the wages accord so that money could be redistributed to the poor people in the community, that wage claim in fact was reduced, as Senator Chipp said, to $32,600. In fact, Mr Hawke made a mistake if he said $45,000-the figure in fact was $42,000. Senator Chipp made a mistake if the says that the claim originally was $32,000-it was in fact, $42,000.

Senator CHIPP —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Did the Minister personally brief Mr Hawke on these matters before he appeared on the radio program? If not, how did Mr Hawke know about it?

Senator GRIMES —I think this matter came up some time ago in considering the request for a grant-in-aid from the Australian Council of Social Service. If Mr Hawke made a mistake in saying $45,000 instead of $42,000 I am sure he will acknowledge that mistake. Certainly it was a matter for discussion at the time because of the incongruity of the statements from the Australian Council of Social Service on the one hand and their claims on the other.