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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 638


Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave—I want to add to the discussion as to why the Minister for Trade, Senator McMullan, was not present in the chamber today. It would appear that we were not given either a complete or a truthful explanation by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans). My concern follows the fact that the minister misled us earlier in the week by saying that Senator Cook was on official business when he was clearly, as we found out, attending a Rotary breakfast. Today, Senator Evans said Senator McMullan was not here because he had to attend a meeting of the Cairns Group in Uruguay and that he had to catch the aircraft today to get there on time. I understand the meeting of the Cairns Group starts in eight days time. Senator McMullan has either taken the slowest aircraft imaginable to Latin America or a slow boat via China. In any event, it is about time this government showed a little respect for the parliament and that ministers fronted up to answer questions, as is their obligation.