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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 932

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —by leave—I understand that the majority view is that this matter should be considered by the Committee of Privileges and not debated to conclusion here, and on that basis the government will not oppose the formal motion now being put. But, on behalf of the Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Brereton, I wish to make clear for the record from the outset the points that Mr Brereton will be relying on before the privileges committee. They are as follows.

  Firstly, Mr Roger Boland was never the preferred candidate of the government for appointment as vice-president, enterprise bargaining division, of the AIRC. Secondly, at no stage, either before or after Mr Boland's appearance at the Senate committee, was there any commitment given or intent to appoint Mr Boland to this position. His name was put forward by the MTIA and he was one of many candidates considered by the government.

  Thirdly, the assertion by the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) that the Minister for Industrial Relations indicated to Mr Boland that he was a `plum for the job' were words never used by the minister. Fourthly, as Mr Boland was never the preferred candidate for appointment, it is totally false for the member for Bennelong to assert that he had either been punished or dumped as alleged in the House on 3 May, and subsequently by Senator Crane.

  Fifthly, to the contrary, Mr Boland's employer, Mr Bert Evans, chief executive of the MTIA, was specifically advised that Mr Boland was considered suitable for appointment as a deputy president of the AIRC, but not as the vice-president, enterprise bargaining. Mr Evans advised that Mr Boland had rejected an earlier government offer of appointment as a deputy president and was only interested in becoming vice-president, enterprise bargaining. This consultation with Mr Evans in fact followed Mr Boland's appearance before the Senate committee. Mr Evans was advised that Mr Boland would continue to be considered favourably as a candidate for a deputy president's position. Accordingly, it is quite false to assert that he was penalised for his comments at the Senate committee.

  Sixthly, Mr Bert Evans and Mr Roger Boland completely endorse these points that have been made on Mr Brereton's behalf. These are the points that will be made on Mr Brereton's behalf if the matter is referred to the privileges committee. I have no doubt that, as a result, the complaint will be found to have no substance.