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Tuesday, 19 November 2002
Page: 6718


Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (2:22 PM) —My question is directed to Senator Coonan, the Assistant Treasurer. In giving her prepared answer to the Senate yesterday concerning her resignation as director and the divestment of her shareholding in Endispute Pty Ltd, why did the minister fail to answer the direct question of to whom she divested her share in this private company? Can the minister now inform the Senate to whom she transferred her 50 per cent interest in Endispute Pty Ltd on 3 January 2002?


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —I thank Senator Faulkner for the question. Senator Faulkner is obviously an assiduous searcher of records, and I am sure he can search the ASIC record and find out for himself.


Senator FAULKNER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister has now had three opportunities to answer a direct question. Does the minister seriously expect the Senate to believe she is unable to answer the question of when she transferred her 50 per cent shareholding in Endispute Pty Ltd, which she told the Senate yesterday occurred on 3 January 2002? I ask her again: to whom did she divest her shareholding in Endispute Pty Ltd? Perhaps she can also assure us that her divestment of that shareholding was not in breach of the Prime Minister's code of conduct, which states unequivocally that transfer of interest to a spouse or dependent family member, a nominee or a trust is not an acceptable form of divestment. Could the minister please directly answer these questions? (Time expired)


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —I thank Senator Faulkner for the supplementary question. The answer to Senator Faulkner's question will be revealed if he wants to search the ASIC register. I have checked my obligations under the ministerial guidelines and I have checked my obligations under senators' interests. I have absolutely nothing to add. What I do have to add is that I did not even have an obligation to divest myself of an interest in a shelf company in any event. It is a private company. I did it simply because I wished to have absolutely no potential for any conflict of interest as a director or as a shareholder. I have nothing further to add.