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Senator John Coulter Australian Democrats Leader

NEWS R E L E A S E

* The Democrats held a phone hook-up at 2pm to discuss the following:

* The Democrats do not support Opposition calls to sack Senator Sibraa.

- After reading Senator Sibraa's letter and report to the Prime Minister (at 1pm today following a 9am phone call with Senator Sibraa) Senator Coulter said Senator Sibraa simply wrote a letter of introduction: "Its a perfectly reasonable letter and falls far short of providing a reason for dismissal."

"Senator Sibraa has not misused his office on the face of the evidence I have seen. His explanation is satisfactory. He has our support at this stage but if more evidence comes to hand we will review it," Senator Coulter said.

* The Democrats want to see Senator Richardson's report to the Prime Minister to see if it contains any reason mitigating against sacking the Minister. \ If necessary the Democrat's will force the hand of Prime Minister Keating in the Senate.

- They will move a motion on the next sitting day - May 26 - calling on the Prime Minister to sack Senator Richardson.

- If the Prime Minister fails to act within 24 hours Democrat's Leader Senator John Coulter will move a (muzzling) motion that Richardson not be heard by the Senate and that he not be allowed to bring any business before the Senate.

- Senator Coulter said it was absolutely unacceptable for Senator Richardson to have used his public standing and intervene internationally to assist a relative .

"Senator Richardson's glowing business reference for a man, whose dealings have been highly questionable, is totally unacceptable from a Minister of the Crown especially when this man was operating in international territory and could bring this nation into disrepute," Senator Coulter said.

* At this stage the Democrats do not support an early Senate recall over either the WA Inc tax access issue or the sacking of Senator Sibraa. .

- However the Democrats will be moving amendments in the next sitting period along the lines of the Fitzgerald amendment to grant the WA Inc royal commission access to tax information. Draft legislation is being prepared and will be discussed by the party room as soon as possible. .

Contact: Sen Coulter or Jenni Mack

A U S T R A L I A N

DEMOCRATS

018 630 137/6 after 8pm 07 2521518

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