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Monday, 1 December 1986
Page: 3051

Senator TOWNLEY —Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen reports that Mr Graeme Campbell, who is the Labor Federal member for Kalgoorlie, received 100,000 shares in a company in return for making representations to the Western Australian Government on behalf of that company? Is it a fact that Mr Campbell disclosed his ownership of these shares in his declaration of pecuniary interests? Does the Minister agree that, in determining whether any conflict of interest arises in this case, the fact of ownership is far less important than the circumstances under which the shares were obtained-which in this case are said to involve a gift to a member of parliament for helping a constituent? Does the Minister agree that this is yet another example of the failure of a formal declaration of pecuniary interests to disclose the facts which are relevant to an assessment of whether or not an inappropriate or improper conflict of interest has occurred? Does the Government agree that Mr Campbell should divest himself of these shares?

Senator BUTTON —I have seen some Press reports over the weekend about Mr Campbell's circumstances, which were referred to in Senator Townley's question. I congratulate Senator Townley on getting it right because after all he understands the importance of a statement of pecuniary interest. As distinct from his Leader in the Senate, he understands that it is about conflict of interest--

Senator Durack —He understands that they are no good.

Senator BUTTON —He understands better than Senator Durack ever did, in the five years he sat on that file, about the importance--

Senator Durack —On a point of order, Mr President: On Friday I had occasion to object to a statement by Senator Walsh about the matter to which Senator Button has now also alluded. Senator Walsh was obliged to withdraw. Senator Button has just repeated the same allegation, which had to be withdrawn the other day, and I think the same ruling should apply.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Leader of the Government to withdraw any imputation contained in his statement.

Senator Chaney —There will be no deals on Wednesday night or at any other time.

Senator BUTTON —Do not come in here and threaten me. You can do it outside if you want to. You are a wimp.

Opposition senators interjecting-

Senator BUTTON —What a pathetic collection!

The PRESIDENT —Order! The Chair does not need any assistance.

Senator BUTTON —He comes in here and he says--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Under standing order 418, I ask Senator Button to withdraw any imputation contained in his statement.

Senator BUTTON —Which one, Mr President?

The PRESIDENT —The one relating to Senator Durack.

Senator BUTTON —I withdraw. Insofar as the substance of Senator Townley's question is concerned, I do not know the details of that matter. As I said, I saw Press reports at the weekend. I will endeavour to find out more about that and give Senator Townley an answer in due course.

Senator TOWNLEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Could the Leader of the Government answer that part of my question where I asked whether he thought, if the facts are as I stated by way of question, that Mr Campbell should divest himself of those shares?

Senator BUTTON —I am not offering an opinion on that matter at this moment. I want to find out what the facts are. I have undertaken to do that.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I point out that up to date there have been seven questions and six supplementary questions from the Opposition. That being the case, it is pretty hard to fit in everybody who wants to ask a question.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, could I say, in response to that, that if we occasionally got answers to our questions there would be fewer supplementaries.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I am just pointing out the facts as they are.