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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 692

Senator TROETH (3.31 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans), to a question without notice asked by Senator Troeth this day, relating to Mrs Joan Kirner.

Senator Gareth Evans indicated in his answer that the superannuation board did not accept Mrs Kirner's claim and it was thrown out, and one could therefore judge from that that she was not a suitable subject for compensation. I wonder if Senator Evans realised what he said.

  Mrs Kirner is the ex-premier of Victoria and is apparently a figure of very good standing with the Victorian electorate, regardless of the electoral prospects of her party. She must have seriously misrepresented her health claims. The sum of $360,000 would indicate massive health problems. Mrs Kirner mentioned her problems in an interview in the Sunday Age of 24 April last in which she said she suffered from tendonitis and migraine. I am sure that we all sympathise with Mrs Kirner on her health problems, but it is a pity that in all her public utterances on her retirement we did not hear more about this.

  The reasons that Mrs Kirner advanced publicly for her departure and her retirement were: firstly, generational change; secondly, more things to life than parliamentary politics; and thirdly, retirement so that new blood could be injected. At the ALP conference on 26 March last she said, `I am doing it because I now believe there are women to come behind me'—a rather ironic comment in view of the subsequent pre-selection of a male for her seat of Williamstown.

  Today, in his reply Senator Evans indicated that, as Mrs Kirner's claim had been rejected by the superannuation fund, perhaps the ex-premier's health problems had not been sufficient to warrant such a massive payout. Mr Deputy President, no wonder the Australian community has such a low opinion of politicians when we have such a glaring example of an attempt to extract money from a state superannuation fund by an ex-premier.

  This must have been undertaken with the same sense of financial unreality that enabled Mrs Kirner to chalk up $32 billion worth of state debt and let state finances get so out of control that the government was borrowing money just to pay money on past borrowings. This has been a sorry episode in a career allegedly devoted to the public interest. I can only conclude from Senator Evans's remarks that Mrs Kirner grossly misrepresented her medical condition in an attempt to wring more money from the Victorian taxpayer.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.