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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2073

Senator CAMPBELL (3.18 p.m.) —I think it would add enormously to Mr Keating's credibility and to the new warm image that he is trying to portray on the midday shows and such—and he could neutralise the flak from this issue that has been quite properly raised by Senator Chapman in the course of exposing the double standards of Mr Keating sticking up for the working man but living an imperial lifestyle—if we found out the exact cost. I think that is available. I am informed by Senator Chapman that it is quite a few hundred dollars.

Senator Gareth Evans —What?

Senator CAMPBELL —Not only strip heaters; there were a few other incidentals. I do not care what they are. But the point I am going to make is a serious one—

Senator Gareth Evans —You would be breaking your duck if you did.

Senator CAMPBELL —Hear me out. If the taxpayer has had to meet this expense and Ruben is one of the beneficiaries of it—

Senator Chapman —The only beneficiary.

Senator CAMPBELL —I am not making that point. We have been told that Canberra is going into a cold winter. But places such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have extremely cold winters. At this time of the year the Salvation Army, the Brotherhood of St Lawrence and Father Brian in Perth all have blanket appeals. It would be a very good gesture if the Prime Minister were to donate to the blanket appeals of those groups an amount of money similar to the tax funded heating for Ruben. These groups are conducting blanket appeals to try to warm those Australians who live in poverty and do not have a roof over their heads during the cold winters. It is not only cold in Canberra but it is very cold on Perth park benches, too.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.