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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3506

Senator KILGARIFF —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment. I refer to the decision of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to drop conservationist, Mr Harry Butler, from the ABA commercial because `he had become aligned with a sensitive public issue'. Will the precedent set by this decision be followed in all cases where prominent and well-respected Australians, with an association with government authorities or projects, dare to voice opinions which run contrary to those of the Federal Government? Is it not the case that Mr Butler was dropped from the bicentennial promotion, not because he expressed a view on Kakadu but because the view that he expressed was opposed to that of the Federal Government?

Senator RYAN —I do not have any specific information on the matter raised by Senator Kilgariff but I remind him that the Australian Bicentennial Authority is a statutory authority and makes its own decisions about employment, programs and things of that kind. While it is the case that expenditure on bicentennial programs needs ministerial approval, employment of staff is a matter left entirely to the Authority. However, I will refer the matter to the Minister and see whether he has any information.