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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1737

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I draw the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate to last night's adjournment debate in which I tabled Press releases and newspaper articles in which the Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Gilmore, Mr John Wright, invited voters to telephone him for political purposes during working hours at a Canberra telephone number, 062-752221. As this is a telephone in the Australian Taxation Office, where the Labor candidate is a tax officer, I ask the Minister whether it is Government policy to allow government offices to be used for political purposes in this way, particularly in view of the pressure put on other employees in the Tax Office to take political messages for Mr Wright during his lengthy absences from his office while engaged in political campaigning in Gilmore. I also ask the Minister whether it is customary for the Government to use its expensive taxpayer-funded media advisers to assist in media training for Labor election candidates, as indicated in the notice from Mr Ian Henderson of the Australian Labor Party national secretariat which I also tabled last night, inviting candidates to a school in Canberra on 30 May being conducted `with the assistance of media advisers to the Federal Government'. What does the Government intend to do to stop these disgraceful and totally improper practices?

The PRESIDENT —Before calling the Leader of the Government I point to the fact that that was also rather a long question. I call Senator Button.

Senator BUTTON —There were two questions. The second question in quality casts a less favourable light on what I would regard as a very serious question-the first one. Insofar as the second question is concerned, a number of so-called media experts associated with this Government might be taking part in any such seminar. I employ one, and he is employed, in a sense, as a political officer. That is very different from the first question which the honourable senator asked.

In relation to the first question, it is not Government policy to allow any such things. I will refer that matter to the Treasurer. In the light of my statement of a second ago, as far as I am concerned, it is certainly not Government policy to tolerate that.