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Tuesday, 2 June 1970

Mr HULME - 1 think it inappropriate at question time to endeavour to develop a controversy between me and the Cha rman of the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission. 1 think I should say to the House and to the public that the document which I received came to me as a result of a statutory requirement that the ABC make its estimates available' to the PostmasterGeneral and that I. as the responsible Minister, should then communicate, if necessary with the Treasurer, that Cabinet would consider the estimates as it does the estimates of every department of government, that ' it would come to a decision and that when the Budget is presented in August the estimates would bc made available to the Pari anient. Following that there is a debate on the Budget, and a debate on the estimates. I would have thought that would be the appropriate time for me to offer any comments which I desired to make about the contents of the estimates, which must be regarded as preliminary in the state in which they are sent to mc and subject to the discussion which will be held in Cabinet and their availability in a public way through the Parliament. So that is the reason why F have no intention of entering into a discussion at this point of time in regard to this controversial matter. Would the honourable gentleman just remind me of the second part of his question?

Mr Sherry - Yes. lt is related to a reflection on the integrity of the Commission's officers.

Mr HULME - I do not think there has been a reflection made by me on the integrity of officers of the ABC. There is no doubt that confidential information was leaked. I say (hat quite emphatically, and I am prepared to go further and say that this is a breach of integrity. It is a breach of the oath taken by members of the Public Service. Honourable members should remember that most officers of the ABC are permanent public servants under the Public Service Act. I have no intention - I say '.his quite deliberately - of participating in a discussion in relation to lack of integrity merely because somebody gives some information to the news media of this country.

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