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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2069

Senator PATTERSON —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Human Services and Health. Can the minister assure the Senate that officers of the Department of Human Services and Health have not been instructed to treat opposition members of parliament differently from government members of parliament when providing notification of approval of funding initiatives in their electorates?

Senator CROWLEY —I have absolutely no evidence that there is any substance to that implied claim by Senator Patterson; but I will certainly seek information from Dr Lawrence on this matter.

Senator PATTERSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Perhaps I can assist the minister by quoting from the Parliamentary Handbook for the Department of Human Services and Health, which has been written specifically to assist departmental officers in handling ministerial and other correspondence. Page 12 of the departmental parliamentary handbook dated October 1993, under the heading `Funding Minutes', which sets out instructions for the procedure departmental officers are to follow in notifying parliamentarians of funding grants, states:

Under no circumstances should advice letters to opposition MPs be prepared.

How can the minister justify this blatant and outrageously partisan approach to the announcement of grants paid for by taxpayers' funds and the further politicisation of the Public Service?

Senator CROWLEY —If there is anything further to find out from the minister, I will certainly do so for the honourable senator. I do not think there is anything I can add to what I said in the first answer.