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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 892


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(3.02) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, to the question which the Leader of the Opposition ( Senator Chaney) asked him and the question which Senator Peter Rae asked him in Question Time today relating to the Special Minister of State (Mr Young).

I will not abuse the leave which has been given me by debating at length those answers. I am sure there will be an opportunity to do so in the course of this session. However, in a part of the Senate's afternoon, which in part will be taken up by personal explanations arising out of the antics and tactics adopted in this place, I do want to say that I am very disappointed that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, should have breached what I regard as the very high standards he normally maintains in this place. Several times in the course of a 14 1/2-minute answer to a question in Question Time, which is a rather unusual length of time for even a Minister of this Government to occupy, Senator Button referred on a number of occasions to the fact that I had prefaced a question I asked him by saying that as a matter of novelty I would ask the Minister a question relating to his portfolio. He continually carried on about how that indicated that questions were not being directed in that way. The Minister would know that at the same time on the same day-this appears on the same page of Hansard-I raised a point of order with respect to the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Walsh, immediately before asking that question, on the basis that Senator Walsh was answering a question which had nothing to do with the administration of his own portfolio or indeed any portfolio responsibilities.

All I can say is that in a series of answers on the report of the Black Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Making of a Customs Declaration', the Government has so far simply refused to face up to the questions asked and to admit to the fact that the Minister has any responsibility for the administration of Customs. That is one small illustration of the fact that Senator Button is falling into the happy knack of being prepared to mislead this Senate. I will seek leave to continue my remarks later but I look forward to an opportunity of giving further consideration to the totally unsatisfactory answers which have been given to the questions which have been put to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I now seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.