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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2771

Senator COLEMAN —My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, relates to allegations by the Opposition spokesman on veterans' affairs, Mr Tim Fischer, in this morning's Press that Cabinet had `dumped' Senator Gietzelt in his efforts to clean up the administration of the Australian War Memorial. Will the Minister comment on that statement?

Senator GARETH EVANS —One never ceases to be amazed as to how members of the Opposition and particularly, I understand, Mr Fischer, the Opposition spokesman on veterans' affairs-not that I have taken much notice of anything he has said in the past-continue to get things muddled and wrong. Although I have not seen the detailed text of what he may or may not have had to say yesterday, I have certainly seen how it was reported in the Canberra Times this morning. I say for the record on behalf of the Government-not just on behalf of Senator Gietzelt in this respect-that any suggestion that the Government has dumped Senator Gietzelt in pursuing a course that I have just described in answer to Senator Lewis's question is totally misconceived.

It was essentially on Senator Gietzelt's initiative that advice was sought and received from an eminent QC and the Solicitor-General as to the way in which this matter might properly and appropriately be taken further given the clearly unresolved difficulties that presently exist at the War Memorial. I have described the nature of that advice to the extent I think it is appropriate to do so. The nature of the course of motion which the Government is taking has been made clear in statements that have been made over the last 24 hours. The course that has been taken is, as I have said, one that is entirely consistent with the course that Senator Gietzelt engaged in trying to untangle what was clearly becoming an increasingly unsatisfactory situation at the Memorial.