Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 10 March 1977
Page: 169

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - I do wish that the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) would not use the word 'dole' in such a contemptuous way. I do not think that he really meant it in that way but its use in that manner sounds dreadful particularly to people of my generation and to the people on unemployment benefit. I only hope that when his circumstances change and he becomes involuntarily unemployed at the end of this Parliament he will be treated with proper respect. The other point I make on the question of the pension is that the Labor Government changed substantially the relationship between the amount of pension paid and average weekly earnings. They are the facts based on arithmetic.

I rise this evening mainly to respond to a question asked in the Senate yesterday by a very distinguished senator, a former President of the Senate and the present Chairman of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. From reading Hansard one might say that the question asked was innocent enough. He wanted to know about the activities of a member of the Legislative Research Service, Mr Jim Dunn. I regard it as an attempt to intimidate Mr Dunn and other officers of this Parliament in the performance of what they choose to see as their duty and in the pursuance of a greater understanding of the work they have to perform. It happens, as I understand it, that Mr Dunn used his furlough in January, and surely no one here would try to inhibit anyone in the Service using his furlough as he wishes. I understand he is currently taking more of the furlough that is due and leave of various sorts.

Mr Dunnhas served this country well, not only in his previous capacity in the area of foreign affairs or in his general duties in the Parliamentary Library but also by his public activities with respect to the situation in Timor. I believe that this Parliament is better served by officers who become public figures on public issues than by people who do not. There are some areas of parliamentary activity in respect of which one might say that a low profile is desirable, but the Legislative Research Service is a place in which we want people of competence, integrity and courage. They have to be able to tell aU of us what the facts are. That is why it was established. I remember the debate at the time in which I said that, with all due respect to younger people, I was not so keen on having bright young people straight out of universities and would be quite happy to see in the Service people with a totally different political view from my own.

I hope that this attempt to inhibit Mr Dunn and his work will cease, and that instead we will encourage officers of this Parliament who achieve some distinction in some field or who have something to offer in some field to carry on with their work. I understand that one other officer of the Parliament is prominent in the field of criminology and that there is a chance that he could become the international chairman of an organisation but perhaps there will be inhibitions placed on him which will prevent this. I hope that honourable members in the Parliament will protect officers against what I think is an attempt by this very distinguished senator to inhibit the work of Mr Jim Dunn. I am grateful for the work that he has done and I respect the integrity with which he has carried it out. I have been able to use his services since he has been with the Service. I was in Portugal at the time he was there and know that it was a sacrificial exercise on his part. For example, he had to pay his own expenses. He was supported, I think, by some organisations in respect of fares but he sacrificed his furlogh in the pursuit of a greater understanding of the work area in which he is employed. I cannot understand how in any way it is disadvantageous to this Parliament or the Legislative Research Service for a person to become more informed about a particular area in which we all have an interest.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Suggest corrections