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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2533


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(8.51) —On the matter of waste of money, for once Senator Walters has drawn attention to something that is relevant, and that is that we have protracted Senate Estimates committee hearings at which senators who genuinely want to ask questions or seek information are able to do so. Some honourable senators-such as Senator Vigor, in particular, and Senator Walters-will abuse that privilege and waste the time of a number of senior public servants and parliamentary officials, and bore everyone within sight or within hearing.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Jessop) —Senator Walsh, I do not think that is called for. You realise that in the Committee of the Whole any senator has a chance to ask questions, so I request you to be a little more polite in what you say.


Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr Temporary Chairman. Those senators then want a rerun of the proceedings in this place. I am answering Senator Lewis, by the way, who is an Opposition front bencher. We find that all the non-entities of the Opposition back bench, plus Senator Vigor, give their egomania a run when they get in here and go through the whole process again. If that is going to become a regular feature, which has increasingly been the case in recent years, we might as well dispense with the Senate Estimates committees and have the whole debate here once instead of twice. I note again for the record that the degree of seriousness with which the Opposition, let alone the Government, takes this farce can be measured by the degree to which the Opposition's front benchers contribute to it. Its front benchers mostly ignore it. Senator Lewis has been a minor exception to that and I will answer his questions in a minute.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Walsh, do you wish to answer the question?


Senator WALSH —I will give some answers. I do not know the answers to all of the questions that were asked. One of the questions that was asked is: What is the cost of advertising information this year? I am advised that the amount for advertising-I think it could be obtained from the Budget Papers by anybody who was numerate and literate enough to seek it out for himself-is $49.27m. The question of the cost of promotion is much more difficult, of course, because what is promotion? The question is so vague as to be almost meaningless. For those who really want to know what the budgeted amount for advertising is in this Budget, it is $49.27m.