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Thursday, 9 July 1998
Page: 5341

Senator FAULKNER —My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senators on my right will behave in a way that will let Senator Parer hear this question.

Senator FAULKNER —I refer to the minister's statement yesterday that he had made clear to his staff the need to comply with the Prime Minister's directive to not participate in the Telstra share offer within 90 days of the float. Has he therefore sought details from his media adviser about the 1,600 Telstra shares Mr Baudino sought during the public offer which were registered in Mr Baudino's own name on 25 November 1997? What possible legitimate excuse could the minister's staff member have for this flagrant and deliberate breach of the Prime Minister's directive? Or what remedial action does the minister propose to take? Does the minister propose to extend the East Court defence to his staff now: blame your wife, blame your accountant, blame someone else but never take the responsibility yourself?

The PRESIDENT —I think you just breached the standing orders, Senator.

Senator PARER (Resources and Energy) —Following the question raised by Senator Faulkner yesterday, I immediately initiated a thorough investigation into the claims made by him. Those investigations are going on.

Senator Carr —How long does it take?

Senator PARER —You want to shoot from the hip like Sid Vicious over there. Those investigations are going on, and they are thorough. As part of that investigation, contact was made with Mr Baudino's stockbroker. The advice to date does not confirm the assertion of Senator Faulkner in his virulent adjournment speech last night. I will read from the letter to Mr Baudino from his stockbroker:

Further to our telephone discussion, I confirm that you advised me of the guidelines regarding Telstra. I ensured you did not acquire shares in the float through your personal account, which I handle myself. I did not think it necessary to issue an instruction that Telstra shares were not to be acquired through the RL and OM Baudino investment account which, as you are aware, is operated on instructions from Mrs Baudino and your accountant.

The Telstra shares in question were acquired through the public issue and, accordingly, the application was lodged by Henderson Charlton Jones Telstra processing unit and not handled by an individual adviser. As you will appreciate, there were over 10,000 applications processed by Henderson Charlton Jones for the Telstra issue. The original application for Telstra was made in RL and OM Baudino investment account. To our knowledge, it has been in that name and has not been transferred at any stage.

Senator Robert Ray —It was once.

Senator PARER —No. Something went wrong.

Senator FAULKNER —That is what the minister always says. Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that the registered address of Mr Baudino's shareholding is Mr Baudino's home address and not the accountant's office? Is it not the case that the Telstra shareholding statement as well as the dividend advice statement in respect of dividends paid by Telstra on 31 March this year were sent to the registered shareholders' address as contained on the Telstra shareholder register? Does the minister stand by Mr Baudino's claim that he had no knowledge of his ownership of Telstra shares?

Senator PARER (Resources and Energy) —I refer Senator Faulkner to the letter from one of the most respected stockbrokers in Queensland in response to part of that question. With regard to the other issues raised by Senator Faulkner, they will be part of the fairly thorough investigation that is going on.