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Opposition cries 'author' -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition says the Federal Government must allow the public servant who
wrote a critical report on the Government's quarantine policy to appear before a Senate inquiry.

The Trade Minister, Simon Crean has defended his decision to remove the report from a parliamentary
website saying it was not approved by his office and was misguided and clumsy.

The submission from an Austrade official had criticised plans to charge companies for quarantine
inspections saying it could hurt exporters.

Mr Crean says the acting head of Austrade is willing to appear before the inquiry to correct the

But committee member, Liberal backbencher, Bill Heffernan told Samantha Hawley that there has been
a clear case of political interference.

BILL HEFFERNAN: It would be a breach of privilege of the Senate if this person who is the author of
this document that has now disappeared were to be in any way intimidated because of that document.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Well, the Minister Simon Crean says that this particular public servant from
Austrade didn't seek advice from all interested parties before putting that submission on the
website; that it was clumsy, it was misguided and it also didn't receive approval from the
Minister's office.

BILL HEFFERNAN: Well, I mean unfortunately the committee that I have been on and used to chair for
many years had no political interference. We looked at the cold hard facts in all this darkness and
whether it meant at the time criticising the government which was the government that I was part of
but we did that.

But now it appears that there has been political interference.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But the Government argues that this particular public servant has made a mistake;
that Austrade is now prepared to correct the record. To come back before the committee, correct the

Isn't it the role of the public service to put the view of the government forward - not personal
views - the view of the government?

BILL HEFFERNAN: The objective of the department is to give the government full and frank advice. If
the government is fair dinkum, they will let the author of the document that was withdrawn turn up
at the committee hearing and give an explanation.

He may well be guided by the head of the department but they should pay him the courtesy of
allowing him to speak his mind. Now if they don't then that begs the question of how fair dinkum is
this process.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: OK so if he turns up and does as the government say - correct the record ...

BILL HEFFERNAN: Well, if he turns up and gives full and frank evidence to the committee, he will
have done the right thing.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But isn't it the role of public servants to offer the government advice on the
pros and cons of particular programs; but for the government then to make the ultimate decision and
the public servants to get behind that?

BILL HEFFERNAN: That is a question, that is a question for the Government. The question for the
committee is what is the right thing to do. I mean, what is the right decision on this. How do we
protect Australia's agriculture?

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: OK, so should that submission go back on the website and go back into ...

BILL HEFFERNAN: Well, well, it would have been a cleaner look if they came along and and, and, and,
and went through the submission and said well this is why we think this is right, this is why we
think this is wrong.

Instead of having some sort of pre-emptive sort of bureaucratic exercise in motherhood statements
and this is a poor look. This is a very poor look.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan speaking to Samantha Hawley in Canberra.