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Tuesday, 21 June 1994
Page: 1786


Senator CHAPMAN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts. At a time of increasing—


Senator Cook —Tell us about Richo. Slide out of that, you sleaze.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Cook! I ask you to withdraw that.


Senator CHAPMAN —Withdraw that, you—


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No, I will ask Senator Cook to withdraw, Senator Chapman. I do not need your help.


Senator Cook —Mr Deputy President, of course I withdraw the word, but I wish Senator Chapman could withdraw his questions of the last sitting week when he indulged in mud-slinging of the worst sort under parliamentary privilege.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Cook, that is a debate you might wish to take up at some other time. I have asked you to withdraw the expression, and you have.


Senator CHAPMAN —Again, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts: at a time of increasing public concern about the appropriateness of the ABC being involved in commercial ventures, why has the government appointed to the ABC board the disgraced former Premier of South Australia, Mr John Bannon—a man found by a royal commission to have had a leading role in the $3 billion loss by the State Bank and a man clearly unable to resist the temptation to encourage statutory authorities to become heavily involved in high risk, blue sky private sector activities? Furthermore, how can the ABC be seen to be politically impartial when it has foisted on it a former national president of the ALP?

  Honourable senators interjecting


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! None of this exchange is helpful to question time, to the Senate or to the standing of the Senate.


Senator McMULLAN —I am aware there has been some media speculation about pending ABC board appointments. The Minister for Communications and the Arts has advised me that he has not announced any new appointments at this stage. Honourable senators will simply have to contain their excitement about that for a little while longer.

  I can say one thing absolutely clearly: if it were true that John Bannon is to be appointed to the board, his reputation would withstand any reflection made on it by Senator Chapman. Senator Chapman has a record of throwing inaccurate, unjustified sleaze at Australians of dignity. I am sure John Bannon will handle this attempt with the dignity lacking in the way Senator Chapman treats the Senate with his continuing gutter tactics.


Senator CHAPMAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. In view of the minister's failure to answer the question and given that he says this matter is still being considered, I ask him to seriously reconsider this appointment. Also, was the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Mark Armstrong, and/or the Managing Director, Mr David Hill, consulted about this particular appointment?


Senator McMULLAN —Senator Alston and Senator Chapman have spent one whole hour in a huddle and if this is the best they can do, they need to improve.