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Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3583

Senator NEWMAN —I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister noted today's report that the Prime Minister visited Tasmania at the weekend primarily to have dinner and gamble at the Launceston Casino with Sir Peter Abeles of Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd? Has he also noted that the Leader of the Tasmanian Opposition, Mr Batt, has said that his talks with Mr Hawke were coincidental to the Hawke-Abeles dinner and blackjack session? Does the Leader agree with Mr Batt that, if the Prime Minister wanted to talk to him, `the normal course would be for me to fly to Canberra or for us to talk on the phone'? Does the Minister believe that the use of a VIP aircraft by the Prime Minister for what was primarily a private social engagement can be justified?

Senator BUTTON —The honourable senator's question qualifies her to run a gossip column in the Launceston Gazette but not to be a senator in the Australian Parliament. If she wants to put together a collection of scuttlebutt about this sort of thing, that is very good; it is a lot of fun. The honourable senator's question does not require a serious answer and I do not propose to give one.