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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2129

Senator JACK EVANS —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen the weekend news report claiming that a $1 billion contract awarded by a former Western Australian State Liberal government to a Korean group-ICC Construction-to lay gas pipelines in Western Australia was at least $32m more than it should have been by any comparison with other sections of that pipeline? As this is not the first such scandal at State government level, will the Government initiate an inquiry into secret donations to State branches of national political parties by companies which are granted government contracts to determine whether decisions made by State governments are unjustly influenced by such donations? At a time of stringent cuts to welfare, education, housing and health programs, can the Government ignore the tremendous waste of public funds at State level in Western Australia and other similar extravagances in Queensland, Victoria, the Northern Territory and, no doubt, other States under various political colours?

Senator BUTTON —No, I did not see the weekend report in the newspaper.

Senator Walsh —That is an old story.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Walsh interjects and says that it is an old story. In relation to the last part of the question, of course, it is an old story. There have been numerous attempts to have a proper investigation of the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation in Queensland, for example. Certainly, the Government would favour such an inquiry, but it is very difficult to determine what the vehicle for it would be. I do not know whether we should go raking over the coals of previous Liberal governments in Western Australia when there is so much to be done in relation to other, current governments. I will direct the question to the Prime Minister as it is asked of me in my capacity of representing the Prime Minister. I will see whether I can provide a more detailed answer.