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Prime Minister impales himself on his own spear over Bicentennial



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DAVID CONNOLLY, MEMBER FOR BRADFIELD OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN ON THE BICENTENNIAL

PRIME MINISTER IMPALES HIMSELF ON HIS OWN SPEAR OVER BICENTENNIAL

The Prime Minister has conceded to gross mismanagement of the Australian Bicentennial affair by succumbing to "selective amnesia in response to Opposition pressure in the House today.

He has revealed that he is entirely responsible for the mismanagement which led to Dr Armstrong's 1 Golden Handshake1 and that he no longer has any defence for his allegations against Mr Reid.

The Prime Minister was unable to adequately explain his failure to consult his department on the termination of Dr Armstrong and the severance payment. His omission to review the settlement on the basis of the contract of appointment, led to the overpayment

of $240,000.

Nor was the Prime Minister able to support his allegations against the Chairman of the Authority, Mr Reid, whomhe dismissed on the basis that "the only motive for the composition of Dr Armstrong's settlement was tax minimisation".

The Solicitor General's Report, which the Prime Minister sought in defence of his actions in this affair, have in fact shown that the Authority dealt with the taxation element of the settlement entirely properly.

He has effectively impaled himself on his own spear in the light of his failed attempt to make a scapegoat of Mr Reid.

Had he taken appropriate steps to address mounting criticism of the Bicentennial management and programming when he first took over control of the Authority in 1984, the Prime Minister could have avoided this imbroglio which has not only damaged his own

credibility but also public confidence in the ABA.

Instead the Prime Minister has demonstrated his administrative ineptitude, deception and irresponsibility in attempting to deal with this matter in an underhand manner.

Had the Prime Minister taken the action recommended by the Opposition to make a full review of allegations against the Authority and to establish a Bipartisan Committee to monitor the ABA activity

he may well have avoided embroiling himself in a public scandal of substantial proportions from which he has emerged a greatly diminished figure.

10th October, 1985

Contact: Tracey Carpenter - 72 7087 David Connolly - 36 3165