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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 678

Senator PUPLICK —I seek to ask a question of the Minister for Finance. In his absence, I might direct it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer the Minister to the report of the joint working party between the Department of Finance and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, tabled in this place on 20 March. Did the original joint working party report include a three-page summary report agreed on by both parties? Was the summary report in large part critical of the Government for its cut-backs in the funding to CSIRO, for hampering CSIRO's vital role, for instance, drawing attention to 'insufficient funds' being provided for certain government-directed programs? Who authorised the deletion of the summary report from the document presented to the Senate, thus misleading the Senate both as to the facts and conclusions of the joint working party? Finally, will the Minister now give me leave to table the summary report to set the record straight, especially as the Minister for Finance will be able to vouch for the accuracy of these critical remarks in the document which were, in fact, agreed to by officers of the Department of Finance?

Senator BUTTON —I am familiar with the joint working party between the Department of Finance and the CSIRO. I am not familiar with the alleged summary. From what I do know of it I suspect that Senator Sibraa, having sniffed something with great perspicacity-if that is the way one sniffs-is barking up the wrong tree, but I will get the Minister for Finance to provide an answer to Senator Sibraa as soon as possible.

Honourable senators-Puplick!

Senator BUTTON —Did I call him Sibraa twice? I apologise, Senator.

Senator PUPLICK —By way of supplementary question: I sought leave from the Minister to table the summary report, the part which was deleted. I ask whether in fact I am to be given leave to table it.

The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted to table a document?

Senator BUTTON —I am quite happy for Senator Puplick to table it if he insists, but if he gives me a copy of it I will have it checked with the Minister for Finance and we can table the lot next week if we want. Would that be helpful?

Senator Puplick —I am happy with that course of action, Mr President.

Mr PRESIDENT —I take it, Senator Puplick, that you will withdraw your application for leave?

Senator Puplick —On the basis that, after Senator Button has checked it, the whole lot can be tabled next week, yes, Mr President.